There is no key to happiness. The door is always open. – Mother Teresa
Feeling stuck? Got a big thorny problem overcrowding your path? Here are 5 ways to conquer the cactus and go through the door to happiness.
Challenge your way of thinking. Often times when we are stuck, it is because of what we believe to be the truth about the problem. Is there another way to think about this problem? What you believe is based upon your set of experiences. Is there another experience to consider? Talk to a trusted advisor, or mentor, that can challenge the way you are thinking.
After my heel was broken, the recovery was long. I was not able to walk, work out on the elliptical, hike, or do any of the things I normally do. After 9 months, I’d finally had it. I went to the YMCA and met with a trainer. After meeting with me, and listening to my long list of “can’t,” he simply said, “What does your doctor allow you to do?” “I can ride a stationary bike,” I said. Aha! There was something I could do after all. “You can’t do any impact activities, but what about mat Pilates?” Aha! Two exercises I could do. This changed everything. I was no longer held hostage by “You can’t.” I was finally able to focus on what “You can.” For months, I believed I couldn’t work out. Once I challenged myself, I realized there were plenty of other ways I was able to work out. It was quite empowering! The things that I could do were no longer the same things I did before the fractured heel. By challenging my thinking I was able to finally move forward toward my goal.
Often times, when we encounter a problem, like the thorns in the cactus, we see the pain that will be caused if we get too close. In trying to avoid the pain, we become stuck.
When faced with an overwhelming problem, there is always another choice. Maybe you can’t move the cactus out of the path, but could you walk around it? Could you cover the thorny area? Could you hire an expert to move the cactus? What would it take to chop the cactus down? What would happen if you simply changed direction? What if you walked toward the cactus and discovered that the thorns didn’t touch you at all? Brainstorm what you can change.
Years ago, my team and I had a crazy quota to hit and it was the recession. It seemed like most teams and most salespeople had given up. Truly, there was no way to hit our numbers with our traditional methods. When we realized that we could not hit our numbers with traditional products, we began to look for opportunities in non-traditional products. By shifting our focus to the non-traditional products, we blew through our numbers to become the number one sales team in our organization.
One of the greatest powers we have, and one of the most often overlooked, is the power of choice. Often, we can become so worried about the problem in front of us that we forget about our power of choice. There is always a choice. Sometimes, the choice is only in our attitude. Engage your power of choice.
I am reminded of a time that the company I worked for required mandatory “diversity” training. The classes we were required to go to seemed to have little to do with productivity at work and did more to fuel division than create respect for differences. Most everyone was complaining and trying to avoid the class, but the company was insistent. After deciding that there was nothing I could do – I had to attend the class – I decided to choose my attitude about the class. Instead of looking at the class as a waste of my time, I decided to own my time. If I had to attend the class, I was going to accomplish one of three things:
1) Get something out of it;
2) Contribute something of value to it;
I embraced the diversity class. The result was greatly rewarding, as it led me down a path to a new passion, and, ultimately, a new job. Once you have brainstormed your options for change, engage your power of choice.
The people you hang out with have a major impact on your life and your happiness. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your wellbeing as a 50% increase in income. It’s like getting a raise when you add the right friends to your circle. One study found that having a friend by your side can actually make a hill appear less steep. And when going through a negative experience, having a friend decreased levels of stress hormones and found that people with a friend by their side rated their own self-worth higher. How about your friends? Are the people you hang out with helping you, or keeping you stuck? Are your friends those who will support new ways of thinking? Can they help you see new ways of thinking? Are they a whoo-hoo crowd, or a boo-hoo crowd?
You’ve challenged your thinking. You’ve considered your choices. You’ve changed what needed to be changed. You’ve enlisted your chums as cheerleaders. It’s time to take action. Taking action can be difficult. This is the step that hangs up most people. Thinking about choices, thinking about change, thinking about what you believe is just that… thinking. Thinking won’t get you through the door. You must take action. The great news is that it starts with just one step. At this time, you are smarter. You are stronger. Take the first step and charge into your happiness. Don’t worry about having all the answers, just take the step in front of you.