Two people walk into a bar. Both have experienced the identical negative event at work. The first guy begins to complain, crying foul against the doer of the wrong, and slams his beer. The other guy smiles at the bartender and contends freely and lightly, “It’s a beautiful day,” then savours his local craft brew. Same event, different responses, very different results. To which do you relate?
It is taught early and perpetuated as we go through life. You say something bad about me and I’m now feeling awful. It’s ruined my day and chipped away at my self-confidence. I’d be depressed too. In fact, I was.
I am responsible for my own sense of well-being, my happiness. I get to do all the things that I possibly can to make me feel good. I can up-level my mood simply by choosing better thoughts. My reaction to any stimuli, condition, event, is mine to determine. Don’t fool yourself. You too have a choice.
The happiest people on the planet are those who realize it’s up to them to feel better in any situation. These are those who fully acknowledge and take responsibility for their sense of well-being, regardless of what you or I think, or what the weather is doing. That’s self-empowerment.
These happy people are no different than you or me. They are just highly aware of their own power. They don’t make comparisons, they know who they are and they like what they like. They find joy in almost any situation and have great success in the areas they find the most enjoyable.
Sometime in 2012, Jon and I were standing in his kitchen. His kitchen had such great light in the morning. It was bright, yet softened by the clouds on that particular day. We were having one of those energizing and uplifting conversations. He talked about Jack Canfield’s book: The Success Principles, of which the philosophical pièce de résistance is this: E+R=O. Event + Reaction = Outcome. You control your reaction; which always affects the outcome. Great math! It almost knocked me over, standing there in that kitchen, the profoundness of that equation. It was brilliantly simple, yet it solved so many complicated problems; the indisputable definition of elegance. Jon gave me his copy of the book.
Jon and I rattled on about how inspiring this was and talked about other elements of The Success Principles, but I only remember E+R=O. I love how it empowers you no matter what the situation or condition. When Jon died, I used that math to get through what could have been a complete train wreck for me personally, had I allowed.
When someone gets in on your pity party, while at first it feels good to have someone come down to your emotional level, it does nothing to empower you. It holds you in a state of helplessness. This is the pity trap.
Allow me to elaborate. You’ve had an upsetting experience. You’re feeling helpless, heading towards depression.
Option 1: A person shows up and commiserates with you – becoming equally upset / offended at the egregious slight or event. He/she expresses indignation, berates the perpetrator of the grievance and sympathizes using expressions like: “Poor you.” “It’s so sad.” “That’s horrible.” “You should be so upset…” The focus is on the condition and the reaction, not you. Now you’re both feeling low.
Option 2: A person shows up, takes a look and sees you, not the pain, not the incident. They don’t engage in the negativity around the perpetrator or the event. They maintain their balance, offering encouragement which brings the focus back to you and the control that you do have – essentially reminding you that it’s not Red Deer, it’s you. If it’s you, you have hope, options, ideas, and room for improvement. And if it’s Red Deer, well, it’s just never Red Deer. Pity is a trap that disables us so don’t buy into it – whether receiving or giving.
Test this idea. Make a conscious choice to react differently to a situation that you would normally react with anything less than happiness – big or small. It could be as simple as not reacting at all, but just up-level your reaction a notch and see how the outcome changes. You see, you get to decide how much you are going to enjoy that beer.
And dear Red Deer, I will apologize to you at a later date and readers, I promise to explain.