Carol the Coach: What is Your Happiness Set Point?

Have you ever worked hard to lose weight only to find that once you achieve your goal and become more lax you are likely to gain your weight back because you did not maintain the behaviors that assisted you in being successful? You may have heard of the terminology "set point" which typically refers to a standard weight that one reverts back to if they don't continue their exercise or if they stop documenting in their food log.

Many nutritionists and exercise physiologists believe that the body has an internal mechanism that reverts back to a default weight if you don't practice due diligence and work the steps it takes "religiously" to maintain your new weight.

Well your attitude and mental outlook require the same discipline if you are going to maintain PMA (positive mental attitude.) You may remember that a recent research study done with people who professed that they were happy cited 3 factors that were prevalent in their daily thinking.

Staying in the moment, having gratitude, and reframing promoted PMA. When people followed this simple formula...they tended to be more positive, more empowered and more receptive to what life had to deal them. They were able to have a happier "set point" because their happiness was not contingent on external factors. Their set point was internally driven which allowed them to cope with life's obstacles as opportunities for growth.

Interestingly the study showed that people acquire PMA one of two ways. They are either genetically born being more positive or they are taught to be happier by family members who also practice the skills.

As you think back in your life, who empowered you to think positive? Who seemed to smile the most? Who seemed to make lemonade out of lemons and take tough life circumstances in stride? You may be thinking that you did not have such a positive role model. The good news is that you can stretch your positive muscle by practicing the art of happiness. The model is simple but requires daily practice.

First you must decrease your multi-tasking and appreciate what is directly before you. That can be tough in this technological world. Do one thing at a time and really allow yourself to experience and appreciate it...even if it is changing your child's diapers!

Secondly, you need to appreciate at least 5 things that you are grateful for per day. The research indicates that you are more successful if you write them down in a gratitude journal that is left out for all to read. Ask the kids or grandkids to help you identify what they can be grateful for and feel positive energy as they come up with their own gratitude list.

And lastly, you will increase your set point if you look at life's challenges as opportunities to gain strength and resilience. When you use reframing, you move out of the victim role and into empowerment which makes you feel more accomplished and actualized. When you realize that you always have the power to decide how something is going to affect you and what you are going to focus on, it allows you to internalize things differently which also increases the happiness factor.

So as you move into 2013, ask yourself if you can incorporate these 3 simple tasks to improve your mental health set point and watch the investment it makes in your spirit and the lives of others! You have the power to change generations to come!

Carol Juergensen Sheets LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. She does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services--contact her at www.carolthecoach.com or call her at 317 218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR’s Channel 13 Wednesdays @ 12:50PM.