• James McNeil

Triggers don't have to be negative. Here's how you can make triggers work FOR you.

Triggers: The word brings about images of someone reacting negatively to something. Everyone has triggers that bring out a fight or flight response. But today instead of exploring those triggers, I’d like to discuss another kind of trigger.

If you’ve ever experienced a rush of happiness after hearing your favorite song, eating your favorite meal, or anything similar, you are familiar with this kind of trigger. My friend Gayle Nicholson recently shared this concept with me (and others), and it immediately resonated with me. For so long, we’ve associated the concept of the trigger with a negative connotation, but they don’t have to be negative.

What triggers you for happiness?

I can give you a short list of my happiness triggers. I love the smell of freshly laundered clothing. I enjoy hearing good a capella songs. (My favorite at this time are Home Free and VoicePlay.) I enjoy cooking and learning new recipes.

Each of these invokes a different type of positive response. Freshly laundered clothing brings a sense of comfort. Listening to Home Free and VoicePlay makes me want to sing along and try to hit the super low notes of their bass singers. Cooking brings a sense of accomplishment.

What about you? Do you know some of the things that trigger happiness for you? Take the time to write them down. Maybe you share a couple with me. Maybe your happiness triggers are unique to you. Either way, that’s perfectly okay. But once you write them down, you have one more thing to do.

Seek out ways to incorporate those into your daily life. Yes, I said incorporate them daily. These are not merely for times you feel down and need to raise your spirits. Once you have your list, start to find ways to incorporate them into your life every day. As your spirits continue to rise, you will notice one important detail about your life. While the negative triggers will still be there, and they will still affect you, their effect will not be as strong because you already have positive triggers in place.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at or check out my site for excellent t-shirt designs offered by our friends at Really? Designs. And remember to seek out positive triggers!

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