Do you ever feel like certain people go through their day with a totally different mindset than you do? You might notice it while observing fellow commuters, at work with your BFF, or on a date with your digital crush. As it turns out, people’s behaviors are closely tied to their “default setting” — and whatever yours is can affect whether you consistently see the bright side or could use a little help turning lemons into lemonade (or even a slushy cocktail). Ready to make a change? Casey Von Iderstein from Karmic Wellness gave us some awesome advice.

What is a “default setting?”

Von Iderstein describes the default setting as our automatic reactions to spur-of-the-moment situations, like a person cutting in line at the grocery store. When this happens, do you automatically assume the person has no manners, or do you give the offender the benefit of the doubt? How you operate on the fly in times like these can completely shape how you experience life. According to Von Iderstein, “These reactions help us uncover the subconscious beliefs that we allow to control our reactions in the moment.” Still not sure which moments will help you pinpoint your setting? Von Iderstein says to look for these common situations:

1. How You React While Driving: “In many cases, when we enter our car, it’s like we’re stepping into a parallel universe where it’s us versus them,” Von Iderstein explains. “It’s so common to see people yelling, cutting cars off, flipping the finger, etc. — and a huge number of those interactions are purely based on uninformed assumptions about the other person.” Whoa, so true.

2. How You Deal While Waiting to Be Served at a Restaurant: “I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard customers berating restaurant staff while knowing nothing about what’s actually happening behind closed doors, or what the staff member’s day has been like so far,” Von Iderstein says. How do you handle a long wait?

3. Browsing on Social Media: “There are so many ego-fueled interactions on the internet that it’s tricky to narrow down just one example,” Von Iderstein notes. “But look in the comments section on any well-read post and you’ll definitely find a giant display of default settings — and get a sense of your own.”

Why your default setting matters so much

“I like to think of a default setting as our baseline for how we interact with the world around us,” Von Iderstein says. “At its essence, it determines our capacity for happiness on a day-to-day basis. For me, thinking about the way I react to things based on my default setting helps me keep myself in check (check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self, as they say).” She says this means taking things at face value and trying not to assume anything. “I know I’m letting my ego run the show, deplete my energy, and build imaginary walls between myself and others,” she admits.

According to a blog post written by Von Iderstein, making this adjustment can be a major game-changer when it comes to inviting more luck into your life and feeling happy on a day-to-day basis. “When I catch myself letting my ego rule, I know I need to take a step back and ground myself with mindfulness practices. If I’m reacting with compassion and curiosity, I know that I’m letting my soul run the show,” she notes. “With that, I’m building connections with others, protecting my own energy, and truly living mindfully.” She says that letting your soul guide your thoughts, beliefs, and actions is an incredibly joyful way to live.

Jumping to conclusions that leave us acting unkind is no way to live, and Von Iderstein offers another solid reminder as to why having a more positive default setting can make a difference in everything you say and do. “The fact is, no situation has ever been made worse by infusing it with kindness and compassion, but many situations have been made infinitely worse (for all parties involved) by making snap judgments,” she writes. Just think: How many opportunities have you missed out on by making an unwarranted assumption? Pausing to offer understanding and kindness in spontaneous actions can lead to better friendships, new work opportunities, and tons of other good stuff.

How to improve your default setting and be more joyful

Don’t worry if you’ve just realized that you tend to assume the worst — identifying your default is the first step toward self-improvement. And setting yourself up for a solid change doesn’t require any unrealistic commitments on your part. Von Iderstein says that it’s as simple as making the conscious decision to flip the switch on your default settings to listen to your soul instead of your ego. “Working on reprogramming your default setting is really all about finding ways to feel good in every moment, which is something we have total control over,” she says. While a shift might feel like work at first, she points to science-backed research to show that intentionally reacting with compassion can help you physically change your brain by creating more neural pathways. Ready to re-wire and become an even more joyful person? Us too!

What’s your default setting? Are you trying to improve it? Tell us all about it on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)