Happiness Is Your Problem
I have a confession. I used to be a chronic complainer.
Seriously! I used to complain about being tired, having too much on my plate, my kids, my husband, my job… and the list goes on. And the worst part: I believed complaining was actually helping my situation. I mean, at least I was focusing on my issues! The problem was, complaining didn’t give me resolution and it was bringing everyone else around me down.
I knew it was out of hand when my husband finally asked me to stop.
So I made him a promise: I was to BE happy with my life. That promise has greatly affected me personally and professionally.
Mind you, on the inside I thought things were pretty good. You just wouldn't think so by hearing me talk about it. Part of the story: I didn’t want to let anyone to know that things were going well because I didn’t want them to stop trying to please me or give me more to manage. Being unhappy and complaining about little stuff was a way to hide, control, and stay small.
I sincerely wanted to change, but I didn't know how; I had been this way for much of my adult life. Therefore, I had to take a deeper look into the things I complained about and the way I felt when I complained, and then evaluate the areas of my life where I wasn't as happy as I wanted to be. That is when I came to a huge realization: instead of expecting others to please me or playing the victim so that I could control or blame others, I had to work at pleasing myself and showing it.
Here's how I did it, and how you can do it too.
I gave up the right to be grumpy, bored, or otherwise displeased.
What would you do if you were hooked up to a special emotion-reading machine that withdrew $20 from your bank account every time you dipped below "content"? You would do whatever it took to put yourself in a happier mood! I'm not saying it's never okay to be sad, or angry, or upset, I’m simply suggesting that you can set the bar for yourself when it comes to how you want to feel on a regular basis.
Often my complaints on the status of things sounded like an update from a weather reporter: "I'm tired," or "Mondays are terrible." Once I made it a point to stop complaining, I had to come up with creative ways to fix my problems instead. What would I have to do to stop feeling so befuddled by Mondays? I decided to teach a live course every Monday at noon. That way I’d have to be at my very best early in the week. Getting my energy up and being of service to others on Mondays shifted my whole relationship to that day of the week, and myself.
There is always something you can do! It’s not about subjugating your feelings. It’s about moving from feeling to doing.
2. I figured out what I would need to do to avoid being unhappy.
Do some soul searching and ask yourself, what would make me happy? What different choices would I make? Work less on the weekends, set aside time to listen to music, or explore the outdoors? Meditate daily? Be more honest with people? Not lose my cool in tough situations?
Among the needs that I identified that would make me happy – getting seven hours of sleep a night. Not complaining about work. Spending more time with my kids, etc. So I made promises in those areas. If I kept all these promises to myself about the way I wanted to act and think and LIVE my life, I knew I would be happy – not only because they are awesome promises that would change anybody's life, but because by fulfilling them I would be living by my highest ideals.
3. I gave myself negative consequences when I became moody or displeased.
Living by your highest ideals is a nice concept – until your kid slams the door for the hundredth time and your promise about "not yelling" goes right out the window. In order to keep promises to yourself and acquire a new way of being, you have to set consequences for breaking them.
When I teach this technique at seminars and workshops, I love to give examples. Here are some promises and consequences that I designed to ward off crankiness and bad moods:
If I'm rude or snippy in an email, I have to send $5 in a handwritten note to that person.
If I'm arguing in my head with someone, I don't wait more than 24 hours to contact that person and resolve it.
If I stay cranky for more than half an hour, I have to close my computer and get into the bath by the end of the day.
The funny thing about this practice is this: keeping the promise makes me feel better, and even though the consequences are annoying, keeping them makes me feel better too.
When I succeed at being pleased, no artificial rewards were necessary. The natural outcomes are rewarding enough: better relationships, more confidence, more peace of mind, etc. Happiness is its own reward. We often stay stuck being unhappy because we don't realize that we have the power to create happiness for ourselves. It's my mission to empower people to believe that, and spreading this word makes me very happy : )
P.S. Uncover which areas of your life might need some work by taking our Current Reality Quiz today!
Learn more about the Handel Method on our podcast with Laurie Gerber “Designing Your Dream Life” available now
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Receive lifetime access to Inner.U with your subscription which includes:
12 audio coaching sessions from Lauren Zander,
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14 homework assignments, and the interactive Promise Tracker to accelerate your accountability and track your promises and consequences
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After holding several positions at Handel Group, including President of HG Life Coaching, Laurie Gerber has settled into her role as Head Coach, empowering all the life coaches to deliver excellent services. She focuses her own coaching on people who seek to change the world and especially loves helping couples. She believes that when we learn to love each other, as a verb, world peace will be possible, and works towards this mission each day.
A longtime dream was to speak, write, lead workshops and teach The Handel Method to worldwide audiences and now Laurie gets to do just that. Between podcasts, Facebook Lives, webinars for outfits like Match and JDate, live events at General Assembly, Ivy Connect, Ellevate and numerous similar organizations around the country, Laurie impacts thousands of people each month--teaching them the basic tools of dreaming, excuse busting, action planning, and telling the truth. Laurie is deeply rewarded by the feedback she gets from clients that life really does change instantly when one changes his mind. She brings her excitement and hope home to a delicious family--husband of 20 years Will Craig, an executive at Handel Group, and 3 kids, ages 16, 14 and 4.
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