I am fascinated by happiness. I’ve worked with people for many years and I’ve lost count the number of times when people tell me that all they want is to be happy. And who wouldn’t agree with that sentiment? I know I’m certainly looking to do what makes me happy and avoid or remove the things which don’t. I’m also a generally “glass half full” type of person; there’s always negative stuff going on, and always loads more good stuff happening, and that’s what I end up focussing on.
Despite this, we all know people who seem unhappy for no apparent reason, and when something bad actually happens to them, it appears to give them something to hang their unhappiness on. And it leaves me wondering how some can be so miserable when others can be so happy.
I recently read a BBC article “Why things may not be as bad as we think”. This article suggests that we are programmed to react more to the negative than the positive, which means that bad news stories will stay with us longer than good news stories. Happiness researcher, Gretchen Rubin, points to research which suggests about 50 percent of our ability to be happy is hardwired, meaning some of us are hardwired to be more happy than others, who are hardwired to be less happy. 20 percent is a response to life events and circumstances, which means that 30 percent is within our immediate control. In the article “The Reason Some People Just Seem Happier Than Others” Rubin goes on to talk about the changes that she made to improve her overall sense of happiness. As with so many changes, she successfully improved her level of happiness by making small but concrete changes in her everyday life.
Being happy rather than sad surely has to be better. There are, though, some benefits to being down, as the article “The emotion centre is the oldest part of the human brain: why is mood so important?” points out. The article also looks at the autobiographical memory and cognitive memory, and the part that they play in mood disorders and the potential treatment options for those disorders.
What is clear is that being happy, which a great aim in itself, is a poor goal. We can have everything we want yet be anything but happy as a result of immediate events and circumstances around us. In simple terms, great goals are about doing more of the things that we like and less of the things that we don’t. Some of us may have to work a little bit harder to overcome the negative emotions and the limiting beliefs, yet it is all within our control. Even if we are being held back by any one of the many mood disorders, we can learn to be positive and, using that new-found positivity, achieve our goals. You know that it you really want it, you can achieve it, don’t you?
"If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. At least, that’s how the saying goes. And I guess that there’s nothing really wrong with trying again. There is, though, everything wrong with trying again, so let me explain.
There will be times when we do something that we’ve not done before. It may work out fine the very first time that we do it, and that’s great. If, however, we get a different result to the one we wanted, what do we do? If we try again, we may simply repeat the same erroneous steps, and end up with the same result. We may give up, consoling ourselves with the notion that “at least we tried”, and giving ourselves a false sense of achievement. We are at least better than those who did nothing, yet we are still so far from those who actually did it.
Instead, think about it another way. Decide to do it or decide not to do it. Be bold and resolute either way. If you decide to do it, commit to doing it. Leave the trying for others, and be the one that does it. If it works out, celebrate what you’ve done. You decided to do it and you did it. If you get a different outcome, don’t try again. Stop. Work out what worked and do more of that. Work out what could have been better and do it better. And then do it. And when you’ve done it, celebrate what you’ve done.
Of course, you may reach a point where you just cannot get to where you want to be. In which case, celebrate your progress. Celebrate all that you have done. Celebrate all that you have learned. Celebrate that you’ve moved forward. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Then decide what you want to do next. And do it! You can do that, can’t you?
The vast majority of us have no choice but to go to work. After all, living is not free and we all have bills to pay. If you’re fortunate enough to love the job you have, the chances are your days will mostly end on a positive note. However, whether you are in your dream job or not, the article “4 Simple Ways to End Each Workday Happy” provides four great ways to ensure that your workdays do end well.
All four suggestions are great, and the first really stood out for me. We frequently forgot to praise what went well and all too easily slip into the criticism of what didn’t go as planned, allowing this to overwhelm us. Taking a few moments to review all of our accomplishments, however small, is a real boost.
Read the article. See what works for you. Try them out for 30 days and see what a difference they make. If they make your great job even better, that’s brilliant. If you realise that despite everything you do to find the successes, it’s still not the job for you, then it’s time to make some changes. Work out what you want, set some goals and go for it. You can do that on your own or with help, can’t you?
Anxiety can range from a sense of mild apprehension to an overwhelming feeling of paralysis, stopping you from doing anything at all. It is all very well in these situations to tell yourself to keep calm and do whatever you have to do, so easily said and yet so difficult to actually implement.
Two articles, “10 Ways to Cope With Anxiety” by Robert L. Leahy, and “Surprising ways to beat anxiety and become mentally strong – according to science” by Olivia Remes, both provide some excellent ideas on how to overcome anxiety and get on with, well, just about anything and everything.
NLP provides some excellent tools to help people overcome anxiety. Time Line Therapy™ techniques work by establishing the root cause, taking positive learnings from that first experience, and then applying the learnings to all subsequent negative experiences. Anchoring can be applied in various ways, from embedding positive emotions to replacing negative, unwanted emotions with positive, forward-looking ones. And, of course, coaching can help you set the goals to take you from your current anxious state to one where you are in control and achieving your goals. You know that you can do this, don’t you?
Simone Scully, in the article “How pilots deal with stress can teach us all something about the importance of self-care” looks at the range of ways that pilots manage stress, which is critical if they are to do their jobs well. The article raises a number of useful ideas, many of which revolve around planning. And planning, it has to be said, is the key on so many occasions to achieving our goals, from managing stress to managing the changes we want to make.
Planning, though, always sounds so easy yet can at times prove to be almost impossible to work out. If you can do it for yourself, get on now and do it. If, however, you need support, think about how coaching can make the difference. You’ve everything to gain, haven’t you?
In what appears to be an increasingly busy world, finding ways to achieve a good work-life balance takes on an ever-greater importance. It also links in with a greater interest in looking after our mental well-being and the growing recognition of the damage that stress can do.
A quick Internet search reveals a real smorgasbord of tips, advice and ideas to achieve a better work-life balance. I was particularly taken with an article by Deborah Jian Lee, “6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance”. All six tips make great sense, and it was the final tip which really resonated with me. It suggests starting small, rather than attempting major changes, to build sustainable change. This is the ideal way to get to where you want to be; work out the end goal, and then establish the steps to get there.
If you get can there on your own, with the resources that you already have, then go for it. If, however, you are not sure, coaching provides real support in setting those goals and working out how to get there. You know that, don’t you?
It almost sounds crazy to suggest that if you smile and tell yourself out loud it will make the task easier. Yet it actually is the case and there is science to support it. So, take a deep breath, smile and say out loud “I’m going to read the rest of the article”.
It must work as you’re still reading! Let’s start with the smile. We know that we smile when we are happy, and we equally know how good it feels when someone smiles at us; not a fake smile, which we are extraordinarily good at spotting, but a real smile, one that lifts our spirits and brightens our day way beyond the time that the smile itself lasts. Leo Widrich, author of “The Science of Smiling: A Guide to The World’s Most Powerful Gesture”, looks at what happens to our brains when we smile (he argues that smiling provides a reward that is greater than chocolate and money) as well as what smiling does to our wellbeing, our sense of success and our levels of happiness. He also gives a three step guide to a better smile which, if we do what he says, will allow us to smile more, with greater confidence and generate better responses from those around us.
Now that we know the importance of smiling, it’s time to think about talking out loud. In the article “Is talking to yourself a sign of mental illness? An expert delivers her verdict” Paloma Mari-Beffa looks at the science behind the idea of talking out loud to achieve better results. It seems that we respond to the auditory stimulus of hearing ourselves give instructions, which is the reason for us then completing the task more effectively. As such, rather than a sign of madness, talking out loud to yourself is more sign of an evolved mind wanting to achieve more.
I was particularly struck by the common sense messages in the article "Top tips for exam preparation", with some really good ideas from looking after yourself to remembering to watch the time. For some, preparing for exams is easy and well-planned, whereas for others it seems a random chaos of notes, open books and sleepless nights. It is, perhaps, fair to say that most find out what works and it does appear that on the day most do as well as they might. And that is no consolation for those who know that they could have done better.
It would also be fair to say that few approach exams without some feeling of anxiety. It's when anxiety begins to take over that it becomes an issue. "How to overcome exam anxiety" provides some useful thoughts; a clear distinction between low and high level anxiety, and some ideas to how to reduce anxiety.
Hypnosis can also provide considerable support by guiding the unconscious mind to take a series of positive steps prior to, at the beginning of and during exams. Positive steps which may allow you to do better, achieve more and get to where you want to be. Positive steps which are the difference between getting the grades to move on to the next stage and having to revise your options.
And with so much pressure these days to do well and succeed, hypnosis is certainly worth exploring, isn't it?
And what is happiness? We know when we’ve got it and we equally know when we do not, yet it seems difficult to define. It’s also possible to be happy in one moment, and not in the next. A goal, therefore, of happiness almost seems futile. The NewStatesman published an article “The pursuit of happiness: what is happiness, and how can we make ourselves happier?”. Unsurprisingly, the article does not reveal the secrets to happiness as this would be an impossible task. It is down to each of us to work out what makes us happy, and then do it. And this is where coaching can help.
Coaching allows you to work out what is going well, what could be going better and what, quite frankly, you could completely stop doing. With some well-defined goals, precise enough to give you a sense of purpose and an even greater sense of success when you get there, yet flexible enough to allow you to adapt as your circumstances change, life can suddenly feel better. Better because you are in control, better because you are recognising what is already good, and better because you are doing something about the rest.
I've just read an article "5 Unexpected Ways to Deal When You're Overwhelmed at Work", and in many ways it makes a lot of sense. Take time to plan, take a break, talk with a colleague, and get a full night's sleep are all great suggestions. I am not so sure about working at the weekends, but I guess if on the rare occasion it gets you through the week it may be worth doing.
That said, I was left feeling that it's easy to know what to do and at times a lot harder to make it happen. How do you effectively plan when you're feeling overwhelmed by everything? What will allow you to get a good night's sleep when you can't switch off due to the amount you have going on? When can you take a break with the work piling up?
Coaching can provide some real answers when dealing with work. Techniques to help you plan more effectively, relaxation skills to let you switch off at night, and above all else a change in mind set, so that you not only feel in control but you are in control. Just imagine! An end to that overwhelming, stress-inducing pattern which causes so many sleepless nights. You know you can do it... all you need is some support to move to where you want it to be.
Do we really need to exercise? Of course we do. The evidence to support the benefits of exercise is overwhelming, and the impact of regular exercise on our physical and emotional well-being is deep and long-lasting. It does, though, always seem to raise the question of how much exercise do we need to do before there are any benefits. The answer, it would seem, is anything is better than nothing, which I guess makes sense, and the more that we can do the better.
It's all very well knowing that we need to exercise, and nothing will move us if we don't have the motivation, lack the self-belief, or simply don't know where to start. This is where NLP coaching can play a significant part and support you to take the first steps. Use coaching to set the goals, and accept the NLP techniques, including Time Line TherapyTM techniques and hypnosis, to overcome the doubts and lack of self-belief. You can know that you get there, one step at a time, to achieve.
Now you're thinking about it. Take the next step and find out how much exercise is enough by reading an article by James Brown, Lecturer in Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Aston University, which you can find here. And then take the next step...
"There are no constraints on the human mind,
no walls around the human spirit,
no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect."