A little while ago a good friend forwarded me an article she received by email from another friend that was intended to be helpful and encouraging, but instead made her feel miserable and overwhelmed. The title of the article was ‘15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy,’ I hate to be critical, but I had to side with my friend here… even before I opened up the article and read what was written, I had begun to form my bias based on the title. First off, the Should. I don’t like Shoulds, and I think most of us should all over ourselves far too often. The other thing I find difficult is the choice of words: ‘giving something up.’ There has been so much brain research that has gone on over the past decade showing how much better we respond to positive or empowering messages as opposed to negative and limiting messages. Especially for an article meant to be encouraging and useful I find the negative choice of words curious. Lastly, 15 things. 15 THINGS!! That’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. And often when we feel overwhelmed with information our brains turn off and ability to recall even important information goes out the window, thereby rendering the potentially helpful information relatively useless.
All that said, I think the article did have some good points, but the delivery was all off. So I’ve decided to share it with you in a way that I think might be more useful and encouraging, and will present the first 5 this week, the second 5 next week and the third 5 the week after. Thus, without further ado:
5 THINGS WE CAN CHOOSE TO DO TO INCREASE OUR HAPPINESS:
- ALLOW OTHERS TO BE RIGHT SOMETIMES (Original: Give Up Your Need to Always be Right): It always often feels good to be right but sometimes it may not be as necessary as we might think, and can even harm an important relationship if we are unwilling to be flexible, or consider their point. A good thing to remind ourselves when we feel the urge to prove how right we are is to ask ourselves: “would I rather be right, or would I rather be happy?”
- ALLOW OTHERS TO BE IN CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES (Original: Give Up Your Need For Control): Although we might believe that we know best, the truth is that we don’t always know what’s best for someone else, just as they don’t always know what’s best for us. We can offer to help, and then respect their wishes and back off if they say no.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN LIVES (Original: Give up on Blame): The only person we are responsible for is ourselves, and others themselves. Others are not responsible for us, and it is up to us to assert our own abilities to make choices, and bare the consequences of those choices if necessary.
- TREAT OURSELVES WITH KINDESS AND COMPASSION (Original: Give Up Your Self-Defeating Talk): Many of us are experts at being hurtful, cruel, and unkind to ourselves. We probably don’t need much more practice with that one. What might be more useful is to think about and try offering ourselves words of gentleness, compassion and understanding from time to time. Think about what you would say to a dear friend if they came to you while in the midst of struggle.
- OPEN OUR MINDS TO NEW POSIBILITIES (Original: Give Up Your Limiting Beliefs): It often feels like we are stuck and powerless in certain situations and circumstances in life. And it is true, sometimes we really don’t have much control over our circumstances, but we always have choices within those situations.
I think that’s good for now. If any of those seem useful to you, great – give them a try! If not, no biggie.