Feel Better By Changing Your Focus

If you want to feel better, don't concern yourself with trying to feel good directly. Do things that make you feel good. Some actions make you feel good. Some make you feel bad. To successfully change your feelings, think in terms of action. Feelings are a result. They can't be sought out directly.

Wanting to feel good produces bad feelings. What actions produce good feelings?

As I'm writing this, it is a warm summer afternoon. The sun is shining on me and I feel sleepy. I don't have anywhere to go in the next couple hours. Taking a nap is an action that would produce good feelings.

We're talking here about a very subtle difference — the difference between wanting to feel good OR focusing your attention on actions that will produce good feelings.

Feelings are an effect. It doesn't work to focus on an effect. You must focus on the cause that produces the effect, just as you wouldn't rub your arms to make them strong. If you want strong arms, putting your attention on your arms won't get you there. The place to put your attention is on the actions that will produce strong muscles. Do pushups for example. Focus on actions. Focus on the cause, not the effect.

I see people making this mistake all the time with their attitude. People want to be "positive," which is a perfectly good thing to want, but simply wanting to feel positive doesn't work at all. I tell these people to concentrate on one action that will result in feeling positive. It could be a physical action like exercising or meditating, or it could be a mental action like thinking of all the things they did today they're glad they did. But the focus is on action. That's what works.

Focus on actions that will produce good feelings.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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