Your brain is always looking for things you can control and when it happens it feels good. When you are in charge your brain is happy. When you have to give up control… well, there’s another story.

Learning to feel happy when there’s no or limited control can be tricky and it doesn’t mean you have to give up control. It simply means that there are times when you can’t be in control and you should learn how to keep your levels of happiness even in moments like this.

To learn how to give up control you have to put yourself voluntarily in a situation where you don’t have control. But being able to choose what’s the activity over which you don’t have control has a form of control included.

Therefore, here are 4 simple ways to give up control.

1. If control means cooking with a recipe

Give up control by trying things out and see if you can get the same meal without a recipe.

It’s a great way of trying things out and see what interesting things you can cook. Don’t get too extreme with it, though. It would be weird to spend two hours in the kitchen trying to make scrambled eggs or making the food too spicy. After two hours you probably expect to eat what you’ve cooked.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who can cook great meals without recipes, then try doing it with one.

2. If control means being organized

Give up control by not making your bed, not cleaning your room or house, or by being late.

This is a bit tricky because it can turn your life upside down. Even more, if you’re involving other people in it. If you’re constantly being late (which is recommended if you truly want to give up control), soon enough people will start judging you and even criticize you.

On the other hand, if you’re not organized, then making your bed, cleaning your room, or being on time will help you give up control.

3. If control means coloring inside the lines

Give up control by coloring outside the lines. This one should take you back to memory lane and remember the times when you were in kindergarten.

Now it’s time to do exactly the opposite to what your teacher was recommending you and color outside the lines. Go nuts! Be crazy and make sure you feel proud about your mistakes.

On the other hand, if you usually can’t stay inside the lines, try at least once to have the perfect coloring experience.

4. If control means always being on time

This is related to the second idea, but it specific about time.

Give up control by getting rid of all the clocks and the watches. Even change your smartphone settings and disable time display. This is a great experiment because time is one of the few things it’s impossible to control. You can manage it, but you can’t control it.

On the other hand, if you’re not on time, then try forcing things a bit and maybe set up 5 to 10 alarms for everything you do but you know you’re going to be late.

For how long should you give up control?

According to the book ‘Habits of a Happy Brain’ by Loretta Breuning, you should do it every day, for 45 days.

“You don’t need much time or money to build a new neural pathway; you need courage and focus, because you must repeat a new behavior for forty-five days whether or not it feels good.”

If you think about it from a day-to-day perspective, 45 days seems too much. If you think about it from an annual perspective, 45 days is only 12.32% of a year.

Therefore, ask yourself this: Am I willing to invest 12.32% of this year into building a new neural pathway?

With love and optimism,
David

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