January 1st, 2010
Happy New Year. Farewell to the oughts.
I hope you will pardon my re-sending a post from last year. As I was watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the 600th time this holiday season it occurred to me that sometimes it’s OK to trot out the old war horses and enjoy them again. I kind of like what I wrote last year and I reckon many of you never saw it the first time. So - with no further ado…
A Different Sort of New Year’s Resolution
How will you FEEL in 2010?
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln
In Dan Millman’s book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the character Socrates teaches Dan that a Peaceful Warrior learns to be “unreasonably happy.” That is, he masters the ability to be happy without having to have a reason for it, just because he knows how and makes the choice.
NLP provides us the same ability… but I’m jumping ahead here.
Most people go through life in exactly the opposite way. They think to themselves, “if only I had a million dollars, then I’d be happy.” Or “If only I was successful, then I’d be feel good about myself.” So they buy lottery tickets, they strive for the next, best new thing, a bigger boat, the fanciest watch, the hottest girlfriend, whatever. But a curious thing happens, when they get that thing, oft-times their happiness is fleeting. They are happy for a while, but soon return to the level of happiness that is normal for them. It is even common, in fact, for lottery winners to become less happy after the initial surge of happiness wears off than they were before winning.
Seems most people operate at a certain baseline of happiness and they tend to come back to that baseline, no matter what it may be. Some people even seem incapable of happiness, almost like they are only happy when they are unhappy.
So what I’m suggesting is that we take a tip from ol’ Abe, and make up our minds to be happy… or to be content or proud or passionate or whatever emotions you would choose. I’d like to propose that, this new year, we make a different sort of resolution, not to resolve to DO something (like finally lose that weight) but this year resolve that you’ll FEEL differently.
Remember the story of The Christmas Carol, and how Ebenezer Scrooge became such a happy and loving, generous man? Why did that happen? Because three NLP experts visited him in the middle of the night and assisted him in seeing things differently. Nothing had changed for him in his external circumstances. The ONLY thing that changed was his viewpoint. He was given the gift of appreciating what he already had.
Joni Mitchell once sang “Don’t it always seem to go, that we don’t know what we got til its gone?” We don’t have to let that happen, do we Ebenezer?
What are some of the skills NLP offers us to feel good now? I’m confident most readers of this blog are well versed in all the different means at your disposal to accomplish this, but just in case you stumbled onto this page and read this far without a full complement of NLP skills at your fingertips I’ll name a few.
Clearly, anchoring is the primary skill you’ll find useful for this purpose. If Pavlov could create a stimulus-response relationship in dogs between food and a ringing bell, we can set anchors in ourselves to feel good at the drop of a hat. And you could make it so you feel even better when you pick the hat back up again.
Ever done a firewalk with Tony Robbins? When’s the last time you made your powermove? Ever done a “Circle of Excellence?” When’s the last time you stepped into that circle?
What if you stopped to realize that you can feel like a million bucks ANYTIME at all and all you have to do is DECIDE to do it now? Would you? What stops you?
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
If you were to decide, nay to RESOLVE to feel good in 2009, what would that mean to you? Would you resolve to be happy, no matter what? How about blissful? Centered? Grateful? AND, by the way, how will you feel ABOUT how you feel? Will you be grateful that you are happy? Passionate about feeling centered? Hmmm… ever think about that?
In addition to anchoring good feelings, NLP also offers the ability to reframe events and statements. It’s been said that “nothing has any meaning except for the meaning you give it.” So one person can look at a glass and say “that’s half empty,” and another person says “Hey, I ordered a milkshake!”
Seriously though, we can look at things in any number of ways, can’t we? NLP refers to this as “reframing.” The quickest way I’ve found to do this is to ask a better question. As an example - if something happens that’s less than desirable, you could ask “What’s good about this?” Or “what could be good about this?” Or “what’s another way of looking at this?” Or “how could this benefit me in the future? Or “what is here to learn?
Questions determine what we focus on, so if you ask a better question you’ll get a better answer.
Simple stuff? You knew this already? Excellent. Resolve to actually do it more often this year. Resolve to be happy. Resolve to be resolved. Resolve to be resolved about being happy. Richard Bandler has asked, “How much pleasure can you stand?” I wonder.
Ironically, shifting the New Year’s Resolution from “Doing” to “Feeling” might help us to finally accomplish those other resolutions that seem to evade us year after year after year. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”