See it small, feel it small.
Big. Small. You decide.
You’ll remember from my ‘Simple Concept 1’ blog from a couple of weeks ago that feeling happy is something that all humans are innately able to do. The reason we don’t all feel happy all of the time is that when we experience negative emotions such as worry and anxiety we lose perspective. This allows the negative stuff to effectively ‘mask’ our naturally occurring sense of wellbeing.
Here’s a really straight-forward technique that I use with my individual clients sometimes to help them get perspective back.
Generally speaking, people are good at putting things into perspective. Unless we’re too emotional, when we focus solely on the thing that’s making us emotional. It’s an evolutionary protection mechanism:
Something wants to eat us, so we feel an emotion, fear in this case, we focus completely on the thing that makes us feel the emotion (because it’s important not to get eaten).
Bingo – all perspective is gone.
So here goes. Make a list of the things that are currently making you feel stressed/anxious/irritated (current issues only, not things from your past – I‘ll talk about addressing those in a future blog).
Only list the things that are compromising your ability to experience your naturally occurring happiness right at the moment.
Then split the list into two groups, with the headings:
|Big Issues||Small Things|
Be honest. How many items genuinely deserve to be in your ‘Big Issues’ category? And I’m talking here about serious issues over which you may have little or no control: life-threatening illnesses, relationship breakdowns, large debt problems, major problems at work (not day-to-day things).
For most of us, for most of the time, there aren’t many things on the ‘Big Issues’ list.
Sometimes there are things on this list of course and no matter how we try to rationalise them they compromise our happiness. It’s not fair, or kind, but it’s life and it doesn’t always match our expectations (see my last blog).
It may mean that for the period of time that those issues remain on your list, you aren’t able to feel particularly happy. I’m sorry about that, but it’s just how it goes sometimes, and whilst we have the ability to experience profound happiness throughout our entire lives, we don’t have the right to it.
Sometimes life has other ideas.
And the ‘Small Things’ list? Well it may be long, but those things are a piece of cake. Trivial, day-to-day problems within the grand scheme of our lives often sorted easily with a bit of imagination and some clear thinking. And they don’t deserve to be worried about. You’ve got better things to do with your life (see my C.R.A.P. blog (link) for example).
They’ll also be issues that thousands of people before you will have already worked out how to resolve. Why not find out how they did it and do it too?
See it small. Feel it small.
What issues have you re-contextualised so that they had a less negative effect on you?