Most world events and things that happen to you in your everyday life are largely out of your control. You can’t control other people’s opinions or how they will react in any given situation. You can plan ahead, do what you can, and work hard – for example, plan out your meals for a week, study for an exam, and vote in an election – but at the end of the day, your desired outcome might still not come to fruition. Maybe the store will be out of an item you need, the test will be harder than expected, or your candidate might not win the majority.
Truthfully, the only thing that is in your control always is you – your perceptions, actions, and reactions. The ability to control your own mind is something often overlooked by those in pursuit of true happiness and success.
These are seven psychological superpowers that we all possess, if only we learned how to use them.
1. Stop focusing so much on other people’s opinions.
If you walk through life constantly worrying about what other people will think about you and whether or not what you are doing will make them happy or offend them deeply, you will be a nervous wreck! While yes, you should consider other people’s feelings and place equal value on other’s lives as you do your own, the constant fear that people won’t like you, think you’re cool, or that you will humiliate yourself can be paralyzing. When you stop putting so much of your self-worth on what other people think of you, you are then free to explore your passions, be creative, and take risks. You will learn to laugh at yourself and be less concerned about failure and more concerned about the experience and what you can learn from it.
2. Focus on the process and less on the outcome.
Following along with the first superpower, this is the next step from there. Today’s society has defined success by the end goal: wealth, status, and the idea that you’ve “made it”. The reality is, once you hit a goal like that the happiness only lasts for a brief period of time, until you decide you want more. You have the choice to not define your life that way. When you focus on the process and what you learn along the way, you will take more joy in the moment you are in. Essentially, you will feel like you’ve “made it” on a daily basis. Your eyes will be more open to the wonder of the world around you and you will end up having experiences you never would have if you had remained so tunnel-visioned on the primary goal.
3. Learn tact.
Just because you know the right answer, doesn’t always mean you should say it right then and there. Intelligence is often referred to as knowing the correct answer, however social intelligence – aka tact – is knowing when to say something and when to stay silent. People don’t like being corrected all the time, especially by the same person. Instead of correcting someone, learn to guide them to the solution. This is especially important if that person is your superior. Tact will make you appear less as a know-it-all and more of a team player with great ideas.
4. Think for yourself.
Our ideas and opinions of the world are shaped by what we see, hear, and read, as well as our experiences and the things we are told from the people around us. When you are being given information, listen intently. Think inquisitively, ask questions, and do research. Consider other points of view and form your own ideas based on that. I am not talking about skepticism, but curiosity. Mass opinion doesn’t have to be your own, so before you jump on the bandwagon, take the time you need to consider how you actually feel.
5. Truly listen to people.
Most of us are not actually listening when in a conversation, we are just waiting for our turn to speak. If you slow down and actively listen, you will be amazed at what you might learn from others. Listen first – you don’t need to have a response at the ready. When you take your time to respond to what someone is actually saying and not just to give your thought or opinion, the person you are talking to will actually feel heard. This will stimulate further conversation and will help you cultivate more meaningful relationships.
6. Stop playing the blame game.
Maybe it was that person’s fault, maybe it was yours. Regardless, at the end of the day there is a problem to be solved, so what good is it to waste time fighting over who made the mistake? If more of us said “hey, it’s okay, let’s just work together to find a solution” society would be far better off. This will also help you to move on when you feel as though you’ve been wronged by someone else. Sure, it’s tempting to focus on how badly they treated you, be angry, and maybe even try to get back at them, but this is really just a waste of your mental and emotional energy. Leave that baggage we call a grudge at the door – you’re the one who will have to carry the weight of it, not the person who gave it to you.
7. Stop taking everything so seriously.
It is so easy to become bogged down by the weight of the world. We are bombarded by bad news on a daily basis. While it is important to stay up-to-date with current events, being glued to social media and the news will cause your mental health to suffer. You can’t be an activist for everything, and much of what goes on around the world is entirely out of your hands. Work hard, be open to new ideas and experiences, do your best to do what is right, and good things will come to you. Sometimes you have to be patient and go through struggles, however just like a forest has to go through fire to achieve regrowth, you too will come out of every challenge stronger. So laugh off the small things, learn what you can from every situation, and look hard to find positivity and you will have a happier life.
These seven psychological superpowers exist in all of us. The people who use them regularly are those people who seem to exude joy and find success in nearly every pursuit they take on. You, too, can have that life satisfaction if you also change your mindset. It will take practice and won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.
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