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Tell yourself the truth EVEN IF it makes you happy

In virtually any discussion on optimism and the pursuit of happiness, SOMEONE is almost guaranteed to utter some variation of the following:

“Optimism is good, but it’s also important to be honest and not delude ourselves about the real stuff that’s going on in the world.”

Usually, when these sorts of statements are made, the word “honest” means “negative” and the term “real stuff” means “bad stuff.”

I get it.

It’s a wise sentiment. It makes a great deal of sense. It needs to be said.

BUT…

Here’s something else that needs to be said if we’re going to have an honest discussion about being honest:

Lying to one’s self is STILL an unhealthy practice EVEN when those lies consists of socially acceptable rants about how powerless we all are. To deny one’s ability to influence his own state of mind is NO LESS ABSURD than to deny the fact that there are challenges in the world. 

It’s delusional to lie to yourself about feeling good when you really feel like crap.

But it’s also delusional to lie to yourself about being unable to create positive changes.

The truth is truth even when it’s not negative. The truth is truth even when it sounds cheesy. The truth is truth even when it makes you laugh. The truth is truth even when it takes your attention away from a problem.

The notion that one must either be unhappy or delusional is a false dilemma.

Lying to yourself is what happens when you deliberately misrepresent the truth.

Happiness is what happens when you tell yourself the truth in an empowering way.

Being happy does NOT require you to ignore your hardships. It simply invites you to look beyond them.

Optimism isn’t about denial. It’s about determination; the determination to decide our own internal state independently of external conditions; the determination to live even in the face of pending doom and inevitable death.

So, YES, Tell yourself the truth EVEN IF it makes you happy!

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

You can be happy even if you’re unhappy pt 3

This post is a continuation of You can be happy even if you’re unhappy pt 2. I ended with point #2 of 4. Let’s delve in at #3. Enjoy…

3) Find an empowering way to process unwanted situations by emphasizing the elements which feel best. Take action steps in that direction when you can.

I may seem like I’m contradicting myself here, but this is very different from forcing yourself to feel good about what you don’t like. Every situation is composed of wanted and unwanted elements. Feeling bad about undesirable elements doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about the desirable elements.

We often approach challenges as if it’s dishonest or naive to acknowledge and appreciate the positive aspects. Exaggerating our dramas is socially acceptable, but highlighting what we appreciate is somewhat shunned. There’s no compelling reason for that.

If you can be honest about hating your job, then you have the right to be honest about how much it helps you pay the bills. If it’s permissible to complain about how annoying your spouse can be, then it’s certainly permissible to mentally rehearse some of the ways in which they’ve influenced you for good. Taking the time to verbalize the positive aspects makes them more vivid and concrete in your thinking.

4) If you must talk about your problems, discuss them with people who won’t make things worse.

Our natural tendency is to seek for validation. A shoulder to cry on or a set of ears to vent to, can be very comforting to have when going through tough situations. But not everyone who listens to you is good for you. Some friends will tell you want they think you want to hear, but the best friends are those who tell you what you will actually benefit from hearing.

I’ve seen many people turn minor incidents into major issues simply by indiscreetly sharing their challenges with people who “help” them see how bad things “really” are.

If you just lost your job, it may not be a good idea to talk to your friend who’s bitter about being recently laid off. If you just got into an argument with your significant other, there are probably better candidates for conversation than your anti-dating friend who thinks all men/women are losers. Such people may succeed in helping you feel like you’re not so crazy after all. That’s a good thing. You need people in your life, however, who will help you get your conversation faced in the right direction.

I don’t vent or complain much in my personal life. It usually only makes me feel worse. There are times, though, where I do feel a compelling need to blow some steam or consult another perspective. During those times, I am careful to choose people who subscribe to my core philosophy of self-empowerment.I encourage you to do the same. There’s a verse in the book of Proverbs which says “he who walks among the wise, will become wise.” Max Lucado wrote “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.” Those are the kinds of friends you want. Build a network of positive-minded people who accept you just as you are, but who love you too much to leave you that way.

This is plenty of food for thought today. Let’s pick up this topic again on Tomorrow.

Stay tuned and have an amazing day,

Cheers 🙂

T.K. Coleman

If you enjoy my posts, be sure to also check out my weekly celebrity inspiration blog, Gossip Gone Good.

You can be happy even if you’re unhappy

Here’s a distinction I’ve found to be useful:

There’s a difference between being happy ABOUT something and being happy IN SPITE of something.

Being happy ABOUT something means you feel good when you focus your attention on it. It’s the way you feel about your favorite sport, your best friend, an upcoming vacation, a delicious meal, or a nice run of good luck.

Being happy IN SPITE of something means you make the choice to not allow that particular thing to ruin your day IN SPITE of the fact that you dislike it.

You don’t have to make yourself feel happy ABOUT the things you hate in order to live happily IN SPITE of the things you hate.

There will always be something to be unhappy about

No matter how much you accumulate or achieve, there will always be things going on in the world that displease you. If you win the lottery today, there will still be people somewhere who are starving to death. Does it make you happy to think ABOUT that? I doubt it! If you’re fortunate enough to work at your dream job in 5 years, there will still be people somewhere who are overworked and underpaid. Does it make you happy to think ABOUT that? I doubt it! Even if you’re in perfect health, someone somewhere is dying painfully of an incurable disease. Does it make you happy to think ABOUT that? I doubt it!

If happiness requires the elimination of that which is unwanted from our world, then our pursuit is hopeless. If any measure of happiness is attainable in this life, then we must learn how to be happy IN SPITE of the things that displease us.

I’m an unhappy optimist

For the most part, I’m happy all the time. But I’m not happy about everything. If I use common standards, then I would say there are at least a hundred things going on in my personal life right now that I have a legitimate reason to be unhappy ABOUT. Yet, I am not unhappy.

Sheer determination and will power? No!

If I possessed those traits, my abs would be in a far more advanced state.

There are a few things I’ve come to understand about being happy. In Tomorrow’s post, I’ll share some of them. It wont be an exhaustive list, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

I hope you’ll join me. In the meantime, create a great day.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

How to not be so annoyed all the time

You have the right to be annoyed at anyone or anything you want. If you exercise this right too frequently, however, you risk compromising your right to have a happy and healthy life.

Because I don’t think happiness and health are worth compromising, I’ll offer you my two cents on how to let go of the small annoyances that can deplete your energy and diminish the quality of your day.

A former employer of mine was fond of saying “we judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge other people by their actions.”

For example, when was the last time you yelled and honked the horn at yourself for cutting someone off on the highway? Probably never. The reason is because you told yourself a nice little story about how you’re usually a good driver and that you’re only doing this because the exceptional circumstances you find yourself in require it. The person you cut off doesn’t have that story in their head when they judge you. So you’re just a jerk who doesn’t know how to drive in their eyes.

When someone cuts you off, it’s not a common tendency to charitably assume that the other driver is a person just like you who may be dealing with an emergency. We’re so focused on our own agenda that we only notice that someone is in our way.

But the truth to keep in mind is that everyone, not just you and I, has a story. When someone behaves in a way that annoys you, use your imagination to consider a few reasonable possibilities for why they may be acting that way. Give them the benefit of a doubt.

For all you know, the particular individual getting under your skin could be a victim of abuse who happens to be crying out for help in an indirect or convoluted way. The skeptical mind may doubt the plausibility of such a such a hypothesis. No problem. If you enjoy being skeptical, then be skeptical in both directions. You may have no evidence that an annoying person has a legitimate back story, but do you have any evidence that they woke up this morning with the specific goal of ticking you off? If not, suspend judgement.

Take it easy. Be merciful. Treat people how you would like them to treat you.

Because it’s the right thing to do? Nope!

Because it’s good to be the bigger man? No way!

Because people will see how mature you are? Nada!

Because you only have so much energy to give and some things just aren’t worth wasting it on.

As a divine being with a divine destiny, you have a lot to accomplish. Don’t use up your mental and emotional energy on people and conditions that are best left ignored.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Don’t give pessimism a free pass

Forget about being positive for today. I’ll compromise with you.

The next time you get ready to form a pessimistic conclusion about anyone or anything, just ask yourself the following 2 questions;

1) How do I know beyond a reasonable doubt that this negative conclusion is true?

2) Am I using the same standard of scrutiny and skepticism that I would use if someone were asking me to draw a positive conclusion about this situation?

Negative until proven positive?

When someone tries to put a positive spin on a situation, we usually become very rational and demand evidence of the highest kind. But when disempowering ideas are advanced, we tend to take those thinking caps right off like a jury that’s been paid under the table. It’s as if someone tricked us into making negativity the default position.

“If you can’t prove with mountains of scientific data that there’s something positive about this situation, I get to adopt the most depressing interpretation possible without having to answer any of the same tough questions about my pessimistic view. Then, on top of that, I get to call myself a “realist” and me and my buddies can make fun of you for being really stupid and naive. Okay?”

What? How did we get there?

A negative assumption is still an assumption

A buddy of mine recently asked me “do you try to make everything positive?” I replied “Not at all! I just refuse to give negativity a free pass. There’s no need to turn a negative situation into a positive one if you don’t assume that it’s negative to begin with.”

If being positive is difficult for you, I get it. If you’re at a place in your life where you don’t know what to think or do, why force yourself to smile if it feels fake? Fortunately, you have more options than being either negative or positive. Instead of assuming that things will turn out horribly, when you really don’t know what’s going to happen for sure, you can simply choose to be open to possibility.

Instead of being negative, be neutral. If you can’t be positive, be open to possibility. You’ll be surprised by how far that takes you.

At least that’s my two cents,

T.K. Coleman

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