Tag Archives: choices

Find Your Happiness Switch

Happiness in Rain

Do you feel like your happiness depends on others actions? Or you can’t be happy unless the situation changes.

We are all more dependent on our environment and relationships than we want to be. So how do we really choose happiness when we are surrounded by many reasons to be unhappy?

You find the power in your ability to choose how and what you think about. To find a way to not let irritation make you miserable. In doing so, you decide your happiness doesn’t have to be so dependent on changing others. When you find this ability inside yourself, it is empowering.

Find Your Happiness Switch

I know many of your are thinking that you can’t possibly just choose to be happy. You can – you just have to find your happiness switch.

Identify what makes you go negative. And what makes you see the positives too. Most importantly identify what helps you switch from blame to taking responsibility for your happiness.

We all have emotional and thinking parts of our brain. The emotional side is often louder than the thinking side. Your emotions show up first to the scene and try to direct you through their megaphone approach.

When you get your thinking brain to show up on the scene as well, you get to decide who you want to be in charge. This choice is not a debate where you try to persuade the emotions to quiet down. The power is in the choice to feel or act different even when your emotions are loud. The first time you flip your happiness switch you will know exactly what I am talking about.

The most common things we blame  our unhappiness on is a misbehaving child or an unloving spouse. In these situations, your emotions tell you that you can’t possibly be happy unless your child or spouse changes. But how powerful it is when you find the switch that tells you that you can be happy, even when your spouse isn’t being affectionate or your child isn’t being compliant.

Let Go of Need to Blame

If we are honest with ourselves, it is the blame that keeps us from feeling more happiness. We must be ready to let go of blame, and put our thoughts in charge of our emotions.

Another classic frustration example is choosing to be happy even if driving in traffic. I can focus on how much I have to do, and how much time I am wasting sitting in traffic. And I will get more and more tense and frustrated.

But when I realize I have a choice, I can find my switch. How do I, in that moment, not let the traffic dictate my happiness?

For me, it helps to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have. So I begin to settle into listening to good music more than grumbling about the traffic. And before I know it, I am enjoying the extra time and arrive at my destination less tense.

5 Steps to Choosing Happiness

To find your happiness switch, follow these 5 steps to choose happiness too:

1. Recognize your miserable feelings. (The easiest step to do!)

2. Identify what you are feeling dependent on. (“I can’t feel happy unless…”)

3. Decide you want to be less dependent on environment/others to make you happy.

4. Find and focus on what makes you happy in that moment (instead of dwelling on what you can’t change).

5. Reap the benefits of flipping your happiness switch on.

One of the hardest times is when a person feels helpless to change. When you feel like your happiness is dependent on others, you will feel trapped and helpless. So how do you take your happiness back?

Others can stay the same if they want, but you are going to think differently. And focus on the power of what you choose to think about.

Please share your success and struggles with using your thoughts to boost your happiness. We can learn from each other.

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Subscribe via Email, and you will receive my “Journal for Self-Discovery: 15 Questions to Increase Emotional Intimacy.” Learn how to take your happiness back without distancing emotionally.

Photo Credit: “Happiness” by Ira Gelb

4 Steps to Effectively Manage Worry and Anxiety

merry-go-round

Worry is like being on a spinning ride minus the thrill of excitement. Instead worry is  experiencing spinning thoughts filled with what-ifs. One worry leads to another worry with no clear direction of how to stop the dizzying spin.

Worry is not only spinning in circles, but it is also a narrow, negative assumption of future problems. When we worry, we assume we can’t handle something that hasn’t happened yet. Worry makes it hard to enjoy the moment or embrace the way it is.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.” ~ Glenn Turner

Are you tired of your worry stopping you in your tracks? When you believe your worry is true, you’ll react as if you or someone you care about is  threatened. Humans are the only creatures who can turn their stress response (fight or flight) on by imagining threatening situations in their mind.

4 Steps to Manage Worry & Anxiety:

It’s time to take your mind back. Step-by-step, learn how to manage your anxiety and worry by sorting out your automatic reactions to perceived threats.

Step 1. Slow Down and Reflect: Since most reactions are outside of our awareness, first slow down and reflect on how you got yourself so worked up. When you notice your heart racing, head aching, or stomach flopping, reflect on what you are anxious about. What are you interpreting as a threat to you or someone you care about? Bringing this into your awareness is the first step to accessing those calmer thoughts.

Step 2. Sort Worry from Reality: People can worry about almost anything and be convinced that their worry is true. It’s important to know the difference between your worry (anxiety = what if) and reality (fact = what is), so you can eventually choose which one you want to think and act on.

For example, your tween daughter comes home concerned about an argument she had with her friends on the playground. You worry that her friends won’t treat her well, and that your daughter can’t handle the problem without your help. The reality is friendships change and you can’t do much about what goes on during recess within your tween’s social circle.

Before you start to give your daughter advice, she tells you how she plans on handling the situation the next day. She just gave you evidence that she is prepared to handle the problem herself, and doesn’t need adults to step in. She just wants you to know what is going on, and needs a warm hug and ear to hear her out.

Step 3. Make a Choice: In this example, you have identified your worry as the following what if: unsure your tween can handle her own problems and wanting to protect her. You also identified the reality as the following what is: your tween has given evidence that she doesn’t need an adult to help her manage the social problems. You could very easily hold onto both of these ways of thinking about the problem,  and stay worried about something you can’t control.

Or you can choose which way you want to think about the problem, so you don’t have to absorb emotional responsibility for something you can’t change in the future. If you choose to only think about the reality of the situation, you will be freeing yourself from holding onto the worry. In that moment, you choose to focus on the facts of reality more than your anxiety about social threats, you set yourself free from worry.

Step 4. Confirm Actions Match Choice: This step can naturally happen once you choose to focus on reality, not worry. But other times, you will need to identify how your actions match the choice in thinking you just made.

For example, if you are choosing to focus on how you think your tween can learn to manage her own social problems, but start giving her advice. Then you just fell back into worry and unsureness. It’s easy to pick a worry back up when your actions don’t match your calm thinking. Instead, identify how your actions can match your thinking about the problem.

Most people skip steps, and try to act less worried. But it is our thoughts and choices that determine how we act and interact. It isn’t until you make a choice on how you think about the problem, that you are able to calm yourself down and liberate the worry.

Which step do you have more trouble with when you try to manage your worry?

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Marci offers face-to-face counseling services in the Kansas City, MO area and is available for coaching via Skype. If you are stuck trying to ask those calm thoughts, so you can manage your worry better, Schedule an appointment today.

Photo Credit: Merry-Go-Round by Ronald Meriales

How To Be in Relationship Without Enabling

Relationships can get dirty, especially when you take on others emotional dirt and debris. When you absorb others problems that you have no authority to change, you will get frustrated quickly.

You may feel sorry for your friend or family member, so you rescue them from having to face the natural consequences of their actions. Or maybe you try to solve their problem for them, except the problem keeps continuing.

These are all ways to describe enabling others problem behavior by trying to solve their problem or relieve their consequences. The more an enabler helps, the more irresponsible the other person may become. In this way, some helping can actually let the other person off the hook so much that it hinders their own problem solving. And I know you don’t want to be a part of the problem you are trying to solve!

If you are tired of feeling responsible for others problems and absorbing others emotional dirt, then get ready to establish some boundaries. Allow others to clean up their own emotional and behavioral messes by better defining your choices. In doing so, you value yourself as much as you value others.

What is a boundary?

Most people are very confused about setting boundaries, and they think it is a way to get others to comply with their expectations. Well this is my thought on what a boundary is and is not in relationships:

  • A boundary is NOT getting others to do what we want.
  • A boundary IS defining what we are/are not willing to do.

In this way, setting boundaries may mean you don’t do something even if the other person doesn’t do it either. Deep breath, let’s explore it further.

Boundary Making Steps That Liberate the Enabler:

If you are wanting to stay in a relationship with the person you have been enabling, then make steps towards respecting yourself as much as them.

1. Know Your Choices

You may not realize that you have a choice. How many parents want their kids to be happy, even if it costs them? Or, how many spouses will give in to make their spouse happy? If you step into others choices, you will collect some dirt. I know I have!

Your choices are questions that only you can answer. For instance, a mother pays for her adult son’s rent. She feels sorry for him, and says “he just can’t seem to manage his own money.” This mother has a choice.

2. Define Your Position

Is this mother okay with continuing to support her adult son financially? She is afraid to let her son experience consequences. Yet, she is tired of paying for two rent payments each month. She doesn’t want to let him move in with her, and she doesn’t want to keep paying his rent.

This mother sees her choices and is becoming clearer on her position. That is, what she is willing and not willing to do. Now how does she tell her son?

3. Communicate Your Boundary

Here’s where it gets hard. This mother will come face to face with her fears. Will he still talk to her? Will he argue with her? Will he still need her?

She takes a deep breath, and tells her son, “December is the last month I will pay your rent.” She makes a decision to stop avoiding this difficult topic. She is clear and direct.

This mom doesn’t try to convince him to be more responsible or give him more suggestions on managing his money. These would all communicate that he can’t possible make it without her. She is ready to let him grow up even if he stumbles.

4. Follow Through With Actions

Our actions often speak louder than our words. When you communicate your position, you will need to follow through with your actions.

Your loved one may try to avoid getting dirty, by convincing you he doesn’t know what to do with the “dirt.” He may try to pull you back into being responsible for him or his problem. Be ready to hold onto your new boundary even under pressure from others to cave.

5. Respect Other to Solve Own Problem

When you refuse to fix, rescue, or shape up your friend or family member due it out of respect for them to find their own answers. You are respecting them enough to find their own way, even if that includes experiencing some consequences along the way.

And sometimes when you don’t take responsibility for someone else’s irresponsibility, they just might surprise you by finding a way to manage the problem on their own. Even if it’s not the way you would do it, you are now carrying less of others dirt!

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