Better Mind

4 Steps to achieve wellness and break a cycle of unhappiness

4 Steps to achieve wellness and break a cycle of unhappiness

Finding happiness isn’t a simple task, but it’s not impossible either with the right approach.

According to Floyd “Ski” Chilton, director of the Center for Precision Nutrition and Wellness at the University of Arizona, and author of “There is Another Way to Happiness: The Four Step CAST Process that Will Transform Your Life,” the belief that happiness comes naturally is a misconception. Our unconscious minds, shaped by evolution for survival, often default to fear and anxiety.

To counteract these instincts, Chilton suggests conscious efforts to rewire your brain. Here are four steps to break the cycle of unhappiness.

Employ these four steps to disrupt the cycle of unhappiness.

Chilton developed a framework called CAST, comprising four steps, to help individuals transition from unhappiness to a mindset grounded in positivity.

The four steps are: Consciousness – Awareness – Surrender – Trust.

01. Awaken to consciousness

In essence, becoming conscious means recognizing the presence of both your conscious and unconscious minds, explains Chilton.

Your unconscious mind prompts immediate reactions to situations, such as feelings of sadness or loneliness, whereas your conscious mind operates more slowly, processing incoming information and making sense of it.

Simply acknowledging the existence of these two aspects of your mind grants you the power to choose which one to heed, says Chilton.

02. Deepen awareness

Deepening awareness involves recognizing our inner struggles and fears, Chilton explains.

For example, if you find yourself consistently entertaining negative thoughts about your abilities at work, try to pinpoint the initial experience in your life that planted this belief.

Chilton shares his own experience of feeling defined by his severe dyslexia diagnosis and constantly striving to prove himself as a talented writer.

“I was successful outwardly, but inwardly, I was deeply unhappy,” he reflects. “Now, I can recognize when feelings of inadequacy arise and understand their origins. This awareness allows me to gain perspective and choose not to dwell in those negative beliefs.”

03. Surrender

When certain emotions surface, there may not be much we can do about them, according to Chilton. However, he suggests that meditation can help us become more aware of the origins of these feelings, allowing this unhappiness to pass.

Being conscious enables us to anticipate these emotions. It’s like seeing a train approaching—the unconscious train telling us “You’re not enough,” explains Chilton. We have the choice to either board that train and dwell in those feelings of unhappiness for an extended period, or to consciously decide not to engage with them.

Chilton views releasing these unconscious thoughts through mindfulness as an act of surrender. It doesn’t necessarily have to occur during meditation; quiet moments of reflection allow us to recognize and consciously choose to live in the present moment.

04. Trust in the journey out of unhappiness

The final step of removing unhappiness involves having faith that our current circumstances serve a purpose, and trusting that things will unfold as they should, says Chilton.

He advises against resisting the natural flow of events and encourages staying committed to the path.

“If you do that, then things will align beautifully for you,” asserts Chilton. “You’ll still make decisions, but things will also unfold in your favor.”

He acknowledges that this may sound more spiritual than scientific, but believes it constitutes the spiritual aspect of the CAST process.