We all experience challenges, difficulties and disappointments every single day. We say, “that’s just part of life”. And if you’re anything like me, you have probably tried really hard to make it all okay, be perfect or avoid the problem at any cost, right?
So we think an ideal day is one without worries and stress.
Is this really the way forward though? Can we go on driving ourselves and others insane trying to make it all problem-free? Is it sustainable or even realistic?!
Here is an Idea:
It is not what happens to us, it is how we respond that matters.
From not only working on this within myself, many clients have increased their happiness levels by implementing the following strategies into their daily being:
1. Get curious, avoid judgement.
Curiosity is a gift of great communication. It’s also the fastest way to avoid judgement – the biggest enemy of true connection and relationships.
By being genuinely curious about situations and people we OPEN ourselves up to new perspectives beyond what we have been taught and conditioned to see and hear.
Curiosity allows us to truly observe the reality, be present in the moment and non-judgemental, and that leads to true contentment.
Suggested activity: Have at least one conversation with a colleague or an acquaintance and get curious about them, their life and what they have been up to. Ask them questions as if you wanted to learn something new, get inspired or generate new ideas for yourself and your new life. See how they respond and how this impacts your rapport.
How to be curious?
2. Ask the right questions
We spend the majority of our waking life self-talking and asking ourselves questions about our reality. The key to happiness is to be asking the right questions. Instead of asking: “Why is this happening to me?” ask:
“What am I learning here?”
“What gift am I receiving in this situation?”
“What is positive about this situation?”
Suggested activity: Write those ‘right questions’ down and place somewhere visible. As soon as you find yourself in a challenging situation, get curious and open about the learning, which may come from it. Start with a less stressful or draining situation to practice breaking the habit of negative thinking.
3. Learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable
Sit with it. Wait it out. Accept it. Wait for the answers to come to you. Refrain from instant solutions, quick fix decisions.
Even if you don’t know what to do, know that the old, reactive way is not the way. Refrain from following old patterns. Do nothing and let the right solution come to you, in its own time. Allow for empty space to emerge. Say “no” to old habits and create space for the new to come through.
Suggested activity: Say to yourself: “This too will pass”* or a version of the statement to remind yourself that the emotion you are experiencing is only temporary. Place this statement on a Post-It note somewhere visible and repeat few times a day. Engage in pleasurable yet productive and energising activity e.g. writing in your journal, reading or walking.
* (from A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle)
4. Look for opportunities to be grateful
Sometimes it may be difficult to find gratitude, especially when we are in pain or suffering. However, according to neuroscientists, the act of searching for ways to be grateful is enough to start focusing on the positive, rather than the negative in you life.
Suggested activity: Set a specific time in your day and get in the habit of writing down at least three things you are grateful for every single day. The tougher the day, the more important it is to search for things to be grateful for.
5. Be present
Happiness increases when we stop the pattern of creating negative stories and worries in our minds.
The ability to be fully present and focused on what actually emerges in front of our eyes and ears is the most powerful way to overcome anxiety and stress caused by, not as much misfortune and challenges, but the thoughts we have about those incidents.
Mindfulness techniques offer ways of being fully present and support the development of all other ways of embracing challenges and setbacks as listed in this post.
Suggested activity: Try meditation or mindfulness practice and see how you feel afterwards. Get into the habit of observing your thoughts as they emerge. Don’t judge them, don’t get upset that you are thinking those thoughts, be grateful that you manage to notice them instead.
- For the next week, try at least one of these strategies every day and just observe what shifts and changes emerge in the process.
- You can either share your observations, learning and ‘AHA’ moments in the comments section below, and others can learn from your perspective too, or you can send me an email with your findings. I would love to hear your feedback!
- And of course, please feel free to share this post with anyone who you feel may benefit from it as well.