Is lowering our expectations the answer?

The Daily Telegraph reported a year ago* that keeping expectations low may be the key to happiness – according to researchers at University College London.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” said lead author, Dr Robb Rutledge. “We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

But the team also found that positive expectations can influence happiness before the outcome.

“If you have plans to meet a friend at your favourite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan,” said Dr Rutledge. But the team found that visiting a favourite restaurant could actually make people unhappy because their expectations are so high that it would not take much for them to be disappointed.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

They researched that! Nothing new here surely?

Are they saying you’re happier having your low expectations proven wrong or when you enjoy the anticipation of a looked-forward-to event? Surely all they ‘discovered’ is that both are true.

eeyoreThe problem with low expectations is that all sounds a bit like scarcity thinking to me. Remember Eeyore from the Winnie the Poo stories? His is not a joyful life! If your predilection is to ‘thinking the worst’ then you’re wasting valuable moments of your life sitting under a rain cloud when the odds are equally stacked that the outcome will be a good one.

In a 50-50 chance of good or bad outcome surely the enjoyment of the anticipation of something far outweighs any temporary disappointment that might occur?

AND ANYWAY…..remember Law of Attraction? What you pay attention to grows.

Think something will go wrong? It probably will!

Enjoy the anticipation of a great result? Bottom dollar you’ll get that too.

What do you choose?

 

* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11010871/Lowering-expectations-is-key-to-happiness.html

 

How to Handle Problems

Here’s a great article from my dear friend and coach Karen from Canada. She has been my coach through thick and thin for over 14 years now and I can assure she has the magic touch. I loved this article because it provides wonderful wisdom at just the right time for me. I hope it strikes a chord for you too!

How to Handle Problems

by Karen Hood-Caddy

Everyone who hires me has a problem. Sometimes that problem is big, sometimes it’s small and sometimes, it’s gnarly, or frightening.

Needless to say, over 30 years of coaching, I’ve learned a great deal about how to help people solve problems. I want to share with you some of the skills that will help you address the tough situations in your life with greater ease and efficiency.

Because if there’s one thing that differentiates happy people from unhappy people, it’s how they address the hard parts of life.

Here are the best tips I know to handle problems like a pro.

  • To be blunt, the only people that don’t have problems are dead people. So, accept your problems and trust that they beat the alternative.
  • Get bigger than your problem. People who are living a great life aren’t as affected by their problems as people who aren’t living a great life. It’s like this: If you only have one cookie and mud gets splattered on it, it’s going to feel way more significant than if you have a whole box of cookies. Most people find that the moment they begin to live juicy lives, their problems seem to diminish in size and ferocity.
  • Plan for problems.  I have found this a HUGE help in my own life. I used to live as if everything would go smoothly, now I give lots of room for snags and actually look for problematic areas in advance so I’m not so put out when they appear.
  • Trust that solving a problem will evolve you. We often have to grow or change our attitudes to deal with a problem and that’s a good thing. I had a great teacher in Switzerland say to me, “What just about breaks you, makes you.” It’s so true.
  • Ask for help.  There is always someone else who knows the answer to what’s problematic for us. Involve them. It will move you through the problem SO much faster.
  • Start by chipping away at the problem: write down 5 small baby steps you can do to start taking the problem on. (You’ll be surprised how effective this is.)
  • Know that everyone has problems, and many, many people in the world have exactly the same problem as you. This will help you feel less hard done by and less alone.
  • Containerize the problem.  Yesterday I woke up feeling a little down about an issue in my life. Then I realized that even though I don’t have this situation handled in the way I might like, I can still have a great day and still believe I’m a wonderful person.  This thought gave me an immediate feeling of lightness. Yes, I still had the problem, but it wasn’t leaking into other areas of my life.
  • Write down 5 crazy, outside the box solutions. It’s amazing how creative thinking can sometimes give us fresh ideas.
  • Journal 5 ways your ‘Best Self’ might benefit from this problem. A communication problem with a child could give you greater empathy skills, a financial issue might make you more clear on monetary goals, a health problem could make you more committed to your physical wellbeing.  Life is continually trying to evolve us. Don’t argue─grow!

I hope these suggestions were helpful. Please contact me if you’d like a complimentary idea session on how you can handle your own problems better and live YOUR BEST LIFE. Karen@personalbest.org

 

Karen Hood-Caddy

Personal Best Coaching 

karen@personalbest.org

www.personalbest.org

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Finding a new job for my brain

There’s been a  lot going on of late – workshops, webinar preparations, coaching, school initiatives, business planning – on top of the normal running of family and home. I don’t say this for sympathy – we’re all busy and I’m no different – it’s just that my response to this growth in busy-ness has been one of defensiveness. It’s as if I’ve been afraid of the expansion – afraid it will consume me. Ironically, I realise, it’s my fear that’s been getting all the air-play and taking up a large chunk of my time rather than the activities themselves.

Byron Katie asks us:

 “Who would you be without that thought?”.

So who would I be without the thought “I’m too stretched. I’m afraid I might burn out”? I’d be in-the-moment, taking one step at a time, open, lighter – in other words, I’d be free of mental clutter that’s preventing me from getting things done.

Working with this over the last couple of days I’ve realised I need a new context. It’s not enough to say that I’m happy to just roll with the punches – that’s too passive. I want to invent a new context that feels more creative and pro-active.

It reminds me of this poem by Hafiz:

Find a better job
Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.
 

So what shall my new context be? I had a good ol’ write about this this afternoon. What new intentionality can I bring to my every-day? I went around the houses a bit but finally I got it. For me, right now, it’s all about Play.

I looked at my Future Self and her way of being for clues. I came up with words like ‘light-hearted’, ‘relaxed’, ‘spacious’, ‘silly’. Recently, whenever I interact with my Future Self, she’s been having a great time taking the mickey out of me. A week ago I asked her to give me some wisdom on something I was struggling with and I watched her as she solemnly led me to a room which had a huge ancient book sitting on a high table. I waited in eager anticipation of the profound wisdom she would impart to me from these ancient teachings. Slowly she turned to a page in the middle of the book … and out shot a party balloon – farting loudly as it disappeared over her shoulder. She looked up and grinned at me. The message was clear – “lighten up, T.!”

I’m sure I’ve been down this road several times before – you’ve probably heard me tell of it more than once in this blog – but it seems I need to get this lesson in all its various and technicolour guises: Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously.

So how do I do that exactly?

  • Well, first of all I’ve put a big sign up in my bedroom: PLAY!
  • Secondly I’m going to meditate a lot more.
    • I’m finally getting the message about meditation. It’s about clearing the channel, giving myself a breather from my significance-hungry brain. I heard a great thing from Abraham Hicks this week: ‘saying you’re too busy to meditate is like saying you’re too busy to find your car keys and that you’d prefer to walk instead.’ Nice one!
  • More Artist’s Dates! (see The Artist’s Way)
  • Listen to more show tunes
  • Dance
  • Watch and learn from my children

What I really want is some kind of out-sized, plastic blow-up hammer floating over my head that activates whenever I get too naval-gazy or meaning-making. One swift thwack to the skull should be enough to wake me up and remind me of all this.

*Sigh* In the absence of said hammer it might be that I come back here a few times before I finally get close to my Future Self’s level of glorious irreverance, but hey, I suppose it would be a very good start to just let go of making that mean anything!

 

 

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

It don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing

Another song, another post! (If you want to listen while you read, here it is – sung by Rosemary Clooney):

https://rd.io/i/QUCFXzeASns

What got me thinking about this today was the realisation that things feel a lot sweeter when we’ve experienced the opposite emotion. For instance, doesn’t a windfall feel better when we’ve been short of money for a while? Isn’t a kind word or laughter all the more precious when we’ve been feeling blue?

Life would be pretty flat if we were to be on an even keel all the time. It’s through the swings that we get a sense of ourselves. Like a pendulum we get to experience our furthest reaches and explore what works for us and what doesn’t. It’s a constant state of refinement and fine-tuning. Each time we reach an extreme and feel discomfort, we learn that that is our boundary and we adjust. Coming back to centre gives relief – joy even – but it’s not long before we want to test our boundaries again. Because that is the essence of being human – expansion. All living things have the innate and automatic urge to grow. It’s not something we can fight for long. If we do fight our own growth then eventually Nature will force us to expand, even despite ourselves. For me this is what illness is – we resist and Nature says, “Right – off to bed with you until you get that something has to shift here”.

So don’t fight the ups and downs, the to-ing and fro-ing. Instead I suggest we welcome the swings and congratulate ourselves for being active in our own evolution – this delicious journey of human-being-ness.

The #1 Happiness Secret

Yesterday I woke up and gradually watched a cloud lift from above my head. It floated off into the sky leaving me feeling lighter and yes, happier.

Mind you, the cloud didn’t lift until I had given myself a good mental beating-up. How could I have forgotten this most vital of happiness attributes? How could I have forgotten my own bleedin’ advice?!

Crazy isn’t it? We can know something, but go too far down a false trail and all that knowledge just disappears. My false trail was the pursuit of ‘figuring out’ how to have my Future Self Now program reach a much wider audience. The pursuit of this in the last few weeks has led me deeper and deeper down a dark labyrinthe littered with marketing and business development frustration and of course all those expert opinions that more recently did my head in. The further I went into this tunnel, the more I lost sight of what’s really needed here:

PRESENCE

I know this and I lost it! In the Future Self Now work I talk about ‘Knowing and Flowing’ – the idea that once we know Who We Really Are, all there is to do is to get out of our own way and let what so naturally wants to come to us, come. As soon as I woke up yesterday and realised that I had simply to approach each day with an intention of being as present as possible to each moment, everything lifted. The relief.

Suddenly I could be with my children – properly, rather than seeing them as kind of to-do lists on legs. Homework? Tick. Fed and watered? Tick. Prepared for the school day? Tick. ‘Now off you go so I can get down to the weighty issues crowding my mind’. Yuck!

I know I’ve mentioned this before but there’s a wonderful mantra that I need to keep uppermost in my mind:

THERE WILL BE A BEAUTIFUL UNFOLDING HERE TODAY

It works wonders. When we sit back, (not inactive but mentally and emotionally spacious), then the Universe is just waiting to help us have our days pan out perfectly for us. This always works for me, its just, as I say, I sometimes forget! Appointments that I really need shifting, get shifted after a call from the other party asking to rebook. A need for a knotty logistical issue to get sorted becomes untangled after an unexpected offer of help, and so on.

NOW. Now. NOW. Now.NOW…….. alll there is is now. Are you experiencing your experience of the NOW or looking so far ahead you don’t see it pass you by?

Could this be the #1 Happiness ‘secret’? I think its a very strong contender. I really hope I don’t forget this again. I may well, of course but I hope I can start to develop a muscle around returning to presence more speedily each time.

Thank goodness life is not linear

I’m back! Phew – bit of a wipe-out there for a week.

The curious thing about illness, I feel, is that it seems so often to coincide with an inner need for change. I noticed when I went from life coach to public workshop leader in 2002, I got ill. When Guy left the company he’d been working for for 18 years and became independant, he fell sick. Rudolf Steiner talks of illness and fever as the means by which we can ‘melt away’ an old way of being and bring in the new.

So, on the other side of this threshold I am seeing things differently. I realise I got a bit too caught up in my work with Future Self Now to be able to see anything else. I had got it into my head, I think, that there was only one way to my goals and if I could just find out where that elusive road lay, I’d be sorted.

But of course LIFE IS NOT LINEAR. I see now that there are a thousand different ways to my Future Self and many of them may look  counter-clockwise. That’s good. The unexpected, the tangental, is what keeps me on an edge – the creativity flowing  – and not getting stuck in stale expectations

So, life will not look the same from now on. I want to be alert to creating new habits, shedding old prejudices. Hoorah, I say! I am going to dip my finger in more pies and see what comes out. The plum, (the reward), I’m certain, will be new energy, new ideas and new beginnings.

Miss Angry from Gloucestershire

Today I’ve been ‘Mrs Angry from Gloucestershire’. I’ve raised my voice to several unsuspecting, nameless support bods in several nameless locations around the globe. My iPhone is on the blink – has been for over 4 days now – with no sign of getting fixed anytime soon. I’m going potty!

Anything you want to know about SIM cards, IMEI numbers, ‘jailbreaking’, software updates and phone unlocking – I’m your woman. Doesn’t mean I have stopped going round and round in circles trying to find solutions, mind you – that would be too much to expect.

The slight tinge of bitterness you might detect in my tone is entirely down to the powerlessness one feels when a deceptively sexy, little black box gets the better of you.

But this blog is about raising my happiness from wherever I am, so there’s nothing for it right now but to get out the stress reduction kit:

That should do it.