This article was prompted by a recent communication with a friend, who declared that she couldn't be happy because of various things that had happened to her. I think many of us have at some point felt the same - that happiness is an end product, a result you gain when your life is perfect, when you have enough money, when you find that perfect partner. The list goes on. However, I'd like to dispute that. Happiness is a choice we make every day. And once we've achieved happiness, then often the other things follow. The key is to take charge of our emotions, rather than letting them take charge of us. Often we feel extremely justified as to how we feel. We can explain in great detail why we feel the way we do. However, does this serve us? For example, my friend had many regrets; things she wished were different about her past, but these were things which she can't change now. And yet, she held these things responsible for her unhappiness. Now, if she could make the choice to let these thing go and decide to be happy in spite of them, she would have a better quality of life. I used to react to everything negative, but nowadays I'm far more in control of how I respond. For example, last night I got a power cut. I calmly lit my candles and finished up before going to bed, hoping it would be back in the morning. It wasn't, and I also found that my shed was damaged and needed urgent repairs to make it waterproof before I headed off to work. Now, in the past, I would have stressed and ranted and felt that the world was extremely unfair to put this kind of burden on me - and just before Christmas too. And then I would probably have worried about how long the power would stay off and the impact on the food in my fridge and freezer. These unwanted thoughts would have gone round and round my head, preventing me from doing anything else useful. Today, I've just taken it in my stride. There's absolutely nothing I can practically do to fix the power. If food goes off, then it will have to be chucked out, but luckily I'm not hosting Christmas, or I'd have rung round some friends to make other arrangements. And I've decamped to work, where I have warmth, light and broadband. I'm very happy here. So generally in life, I invite you to decide which choices you really wish to make. Do you really want to respond negatively to a situation? Do you really want to respond argumentatively to someone who's pressing your buttons? Do you really want to hold on to the wrongs done to you in the past? Or would you rather choose to be happy?
I was thinking the other day about the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect. It was triggered by 2 friends who are taking on new voluntary roles. The first was apologising in advance for possibly messing up. I don't think anyone who knows him thinks he'll mess up, but that was quite a big concern of his. I then was thinking, in contrast, of another friend who reminds us that she is still learning her role and will not be perfect yet. And then she does the best that she can. I used to be a perfectionist. I hold my hands up to this. I'd be proud of the quality of my work. I'd love to hear compliments about it. However, the flip-side was that I'd take ages to get anything finished and I'd often procrastinate if I wasn't sure it would be perfect enough, so sometimes the task wouldn't get done at all. And I'd carry around this ever growing list of things to do, which put extra stress on me. Now I'm not advocating that we don't do our best, but our best will vary according to not only our ability, but also our current level of experience, how we're feeling that day, and what other pressures we have going on in our lives. There are times when perfection is relevant - if you are a surgeon or operating dangerous machinery, for example. However how I design my business cards really isn't one of them; it's more like a journey, each version can be a little bit different as I evolve my ideas and experience. It's also good to think of where we'd be if, as babies, we didn't risk failure in learning to walk and talk. How would it be if we looked at the baby next to us who was more developed in these skills and decided it wasn't worth us bothering as we couldn't do it right now. It seems a ridiculous notion, but many people do exactly this as adults. So, don't let the fear of perceived failure, put extra pressure on you, or stop you doing something. Be honest with people as to your experience and do the best you can.
So December has arrived for its annual visit and the shops are full of festive cheer. I've heard that people have started decorating their homes, although I leave mine a bit later than this, due to the fact that my Christmas tree is so large it takes up too much space for it to be there too long. Now, I love the festive season. I love the build up, the parties, the choosing presents for my loved ones, the singing of carols, and finally spending Christmas itself with my family. But I realise from talking to other people that not everyone is so lucky. So I thought I'd address this here and offer some help. Christmas is a very significant time of the year. Whether we like it or not, we're sold a fairy tale annually by the retail community. As much as we may try to ignore it, it's very difficult not to compare your experience with this. If, for whatever reason, your past Christmases weren't brilliant, you may have a sinking feeling each year. If you are now the one responsible for "getting Christmas together", you may feel a lot of pressure to make it perfect for all your guests, which can leave you tired and time-starved before it even arrives. If you are unfortunate to have had a sad occasion happen at a previous Christmas, the arrival of each year can trigger unresolved grief. If you used to have great Christmases, but your situation has now changed and you've lost these, this annual holiday can bring up unresolved feelings of regret. And finally, if you're unfortunate to have to spend Christmas with people in whose company you wouldn't normally choose to spend time, you may end up with conflict and maybe even arguments. The good news is, that in all these situations, kinesiology can help clear the stress. It gently removes the stress around the triggering events and changes the association we have linked to Christmas. It will leave you feeling happier and less burdened and more able to enjoy the festive season in your own way. So if you'd like to create the positive Christmas experience you'd really like, please do get in touch - 01635 581682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.