Lately, I have spent some time reflecting on the question “Am I happy?”
I am not the type of person to spend a lot of time contemplating questions of this nature (I find they are an antidote to being happy). Yet, I think a lot of people these days are stressed and worried. I think a lot of us are wondering about the staying power of happiness in tough times.
My answer? I have many happy moments throughout the day. Life is good – many blessings of health, great kids, meaningful work, wonderful friendships. I also have the usual stresses about whether my kids are using their manners, when I’ll find a great partner (being single at 46 brings that question to mind often) and my aging parents’ health.
However, asking this question has made me think about the difference between “world-focused happiness” and that small center somewhere near my solar plexus: My “happy spot.” No matter what’s going on to stress or confuse or worry me – in work or at home – I can go there and find peace. My day is instantly improved. Not jumping-for-joy Mexican-Riviera vacation happy. Simply happy.
There are four “core beliefs” that sit at the base of my happy spot. I learned them in NLP Practitioner training, and have spent 20 years cultivating them (in spite of the many counter-examples I can find that they are not true).
Here is what I know: These beliefs help me have better relationships. And better relationships ARE the foundation of my soul’s happiness.
Below, I talk about two of my “happy beliefs,” courtesy of NLP. (I’ll talk about the other two next week).
1) People work perfectly. No one is wrong or broken, but we may be programmed in ways that aren’t useful. We operate perfectly based on the deepest “programming” embedded in our “system.” When we re-program the system, we get different behavior.
My friend’s child was born with autism. It was very, very difficult for her to see the perfection in him. One day, an NLP coach helped her see he was like a desert rose in a rainforest. The environment called “modern life in America” that worked so well for many species, placed demands on him that made it hard for his “rose” to bloom. As a result of this conversation, she learned to create an environment in which his perfection could thrive. As long as she saw him as perfect – even though his behavior and needs could be challenging — life was much easier. When she felt sorry about his disability, or became overwhelmed with the lack of knowledge of what to do for him, life was harder. Remembering him as “perfect” was the perfect antidote to her own imperfections, every time.
So think about those annoying, negative people in your life who always see the glass as half empty. If you can see them as perfect, it transforms who they are. Literally.
2) The meaning of your communication is the response you get. If you don’t like the response, change your communication. This can be frustrating. We inherently believe we are communicating more clearly and concisely than we usually are. We also carry our own preferences about how we want to be communicated to, which are often different from someone else’s.
John Kotter is a famous Harvard University professor who studied what makes organizations friendly toward change, versus unable to adapt in competitive environments. His research found that HOW people communicated during change was key. Leaders who chose to spend time talking about the environment of continuous change, had organizations that were more nimble and flexible, versus their competitors who had become brittle and rigid.
He found that a common pattern in leaders was to under-communicate by a factor of 100 times! This is true in almost every context in which people are in relationship — that our idea of “enough” and “right timing”, versus the other person’s are not matched up.
Consistent communication that focuses on someone else’s needs, builds trust. When people are buried in information-overload, they need to hear a message several times and ways before it “sticks.” The typical employee at work is interrupted every 11 minutes. Most people work on a task about 3 minutes before they shift focus.
The hallmark of a great communicator? The ability to link people’s constant shifting attention to a meaningful and consistent “purpose” that is about them. If high performing, high-trust interactions are not the “response” you are getting in your interactions, maybe it is a good time to look at your own communication … and change it.
Whether you are leading a team, managing a toddler, or navigating a marriage, the ability to stay steady when people around you are coming apart is the greatest gift you can offer.
Try inserting these beliefs into your own “happy spot,” and watch the world around you change. And get happy!
This week’s blog draws from the NLP Presuppositions, which can be found in pages 4-5 of the Living Encyclopedia, found at shop.nlpco.com
For really impactful experience of the power of your beliefs on your happiness and self image, check out “ReCreating Yourself” by Steve Andreas. You’ll discover how your beliefs or generalizations about others or their surroundings are powerful enablers – or disablers – of you behaviors and accomplishments, and how the beliefs you hold about yourself shape (for good or ill) you life. Find our more – click here.