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2. Affirm Daily

People are often told to: “Be yourself.” That would be reasonable advice if your life was already perfect, but if you wish to Increase Happiness, you need to: “Improve yourself.” To do that, you need to change your Desires.

Everyone changes Desires. The Desires of a child are not the same as an adult. In fact, “growing up” is simply the process of developing more mature Desires.

Where do Desires come from? Persistent Desires are either instinctive, or habitual. When you repeat a Choice often enough, you create a habitual Desire.

For example, one of your Desires might be to look both ways before you cross a street. You weren’t born with that Desire. Where did it come from?

At some point in your life, you were probably either rewarded for looking both ways, or punished for failing to do so. That gave you an Incentive for the Choice to look both ways. After you did so often enough, repetition made it a Habit.

Habits are part of Mental Survival. To make sure you remain the same person from one day to the next, your brain first observes who you are. It constantly monitors your behavior for repetitive patterns, and when it finds a pattern, it stores that information as a Habit.

To complete the process of Mental Survival, your brain encourages you to continue your Habits. It does that by releasing neurochemicals to either punish or reward you. If you start to cross a street without looking, your brain produces a chemical to make you feel uncomfortable. Once you look, another chemical makes you feel normal.
Neurochemicals can be subtle and unnoticed, but they are powerful drugs which control your life. Your body craves the chemicals that make you feel good. You are addicted to them.

Because you are physically addicted to your current Desires, your Desires determine your Choices.

How do I change my Desires? Since past Choices produce current Desires, and current Desires produce future Choices, you need a way to break the cycle. A computer programmer would call that cycle an endless loop, and would look for a secret “back door.” Fortunately, you have one.

When your brain observes your life to look for patterns of behavior, what it really scans is mental images. Those images can be the memories of your previous Choices, or they can be mental images from your imagination. The key is that your brain can use both kinds of images.

That means not only can you develop Habits based on what you have already done, but you can also develop Habits based on what you have thought about doing. If you create repetitive mental images with your imagination, your brain will recognize a pattern and create a Habit.

How do I Affirm? The critical requirement for AFFIRMOLOGY is to form mental images. Most people benefit from REMINDERS which can include:
For example, say you wish to develop the Value of showing up for meetings on time. You might write an Affirmation like this:

"I enjoy planning my schedule so I arrive for meetings on time."

Then you need repeated exposure to the mental images associated with your Affirmation. When you see your Reminder daily, picture what it means. You might imagine setting your alarm clock early, or keeping a written calendar, or any number of ways to address your specific problem.

When you repeatedly expose yourself to these mental images, you become habituated to them, and the Habits become part of your Desires. Once that happens, in the example, you will feel better when you are punctual and worse when you are late. At that point, you are naturally inclined do what it takes to show up on time.

Some Desires may be difficult to visualize such as trying to picture yourself not doing something, for example, eating less. In that case, you might invent a behavior you can readily see. If the refrigerator is a temptation, you could picture yourself reaching for the handle, but instead of opening the refrigerator, tap the handle twice and walk away.

A complication is that your current Habits are frequently the opposite of the Habits you seek. If you picture your Affirmations in the morning and then show up late for a meeting in the afternoon, your brain will not develop the new Habit. That’s why it is important to Affirm daily, so you can suppress old bad Habits until new good Habits are established.

You also need to monitor your “inner voice.” You might picture your Affirmations in the morning, and for the rest of the day tell yourself, “That will never happen.” Those thoughts are “reverse” Affirmations which will undo your progress.

In fact, put your inner voice to work for you. When you find yourself engaged in behavior you would like to improve, ask yourself, "Is this really the person I want to be?" Then figure out the Desires you need to be the person you want.

How do I know what new Desires I need? The next step is to DEVELOP DESIRE.



You say I’m addicted to my Habits. But I do things all the time that aren’t part of any Habit. But everything you do is in response to your Desires. Say you drive a different route home one day, contrary to your usual route. Why did you do it? Maybe you value exploring, or adding a random element to your life once in a while. If that’s the case, you could say you’re in the Habit of altering your Habits.

You say my Desires determine my Choices, but I desire many things I haven’t chosen. That’s because you desire other things more. Most people have conflicting Desires. For example, you might want to be in a romantic relationship, but you are shy and don’t like to meet new people. Or maybe you want to live near the beach, but you would need to give up your current job to move. When something you want is missing in your life, try to identify the conflicting Desire. You might find you have settled for something you could live without.

Why do I need Affirmations? Can’t I use old-fashioned willpower? Willpower can work when you don’t give up too soon. Of course, willpower requires that you repeatedly focus your thoughts on a desired outcome. In that way, willpower simply taps into the power of Affirmations. A good understanding of Affirmology from IncreaseHappiness.com will expand your willpower.

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