If I could go back in time, I’d sit myself down and say, “You have NO idea what you’re missing.” For over a decade, my husband tried convincing me to move to Maine from southern California. I had never envisioned myself living in the Pine Tree State, and couldn’t imagine what would possibly take me there for the long haul. “I’ll never move there”, I’d say to a withering look. Now that we’re here, it’s like stepping out of a lifetime of fog, and into the blinding sunshine for the first time (which is ironic considering the weather pattern of the locales is precisely the opposite of that metaphor). The following is a 4 point list of what prevented me – and what prevents others – from living our happiest life.
Fear of the unknown. I had no basis for being afraid of moving. I had done it before, after all. But I didn’t know anyone in Maine, my closest family member would be 600 miles away, and I’d be giving up a high salaried job with benefits that would make you weep. Why would I want to take such a leap of faith? The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know … and it turns out, Roosevelt was right: There isn’t anything to fear, but fear itself. What does that mean? Essentially, fear is what holds us back; it’s destructive. Fear is what prevents us from living our happiest life. It’s a mere feeling – a thought – that exists only in our own heads. If we can set aside this thought and feeling, we can allow ourselves to take that leap of faith, and discover what awaits for our lives’ adventures.
Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion that is not based on actual experience. I had plenty of preconceived ideas about what life would be like in Maine – what I feared it would be like. The basis of all prejudice circles back to fear. If we can remember that humans actually have a tendency to decide on something when there is no evidence to support the thought, we can help ourselves to avoid creating destructive prejudices in our own minds, which inevitably block us from engaging in new experiences and opportunities.
Not just for Taurus’s anymore (that’s a joke, I’m married to one), stubborn streams of thought can be detrimental to personal growth. I found myself unwilling to consider my husband’s point-of-view on moving to Maine more because I had made up my mind – my unfounded prejudicial decision – than on anything else. But who wins in that situation, and why is it important? What is the purpose of being stubborn for stubbornness’s sake? Without growth we stagnate, and when we stagnate, we can’t grow as individuals, and if we can’t grow as individuals, we CANNOT attain nor maintain happiness.
Finally, the mother of all self-destructive ways of thinking: Negativity. Negative streams of thought create a cyclical pattern of self-fulfilling prophesy. You believe something won’t work out, and so it doesn’t. Some of us are so prone to negative thinking, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. “I won’t fit in there”, I’d say with fervor to my husband. How did I know that? I didn’t. It was an unfounded, biased opinion, which turns out not to be true! I fit in quite well here in Maine, thank you very much! (Really, Maine, thank you.)
If we can spot these self-destructive ways of thinking as we’re doing them, we will be able to adjust our thought processes in the moment, and hopefully open ourselves up to the possibility of happiness and new experiences. Try taking that leap of faith. You deserve to be happy.
** You may be wondering what made me change my mind and agree to take that leap of faith on moving to Maine? Transformative thinking has a lot to do with it.