Monday, February 17, 2014

5 ways to create more good for ourselves - #1 tell the best possible story ....


Since hubs and my dinner last Christmas when I realized our entire conversation was comprised of problems, bad news and complaints - I have been determined to change the way I am framing the things that are going on and the way I am verbalizing this stuff in conversation with other people and Olive, of course, and especially in my own head.

I deleted the old Whining Wednesday link from my blog header (sniffle) and have been paying greater attention to my language.  

This has resulted in me saying a lot less - probably not a bad thing. Although no one has noticed. I haven't had anyone ask, "hey Cat, cat got your tongue?" ... yet.

I know that my words and thoughts influence my actions and outcomes, but I still find it challenging sometimes to practice what I know.

(There are quantum experiments with accuracy within 1/100 of a decimal point illustrating that there is no such thing as a detached observer. We all grew up with the scientific method where we watched and recorded, but quantum physics tells us that this isn't possible. The observer is actually a direct participant in all that is being observed and outcomes are effected and even created by the observer's expectations.)

The fact that our expectations and beliefs literally create the world around us is a huge shift in the way most of us have been taught to think the world works.

The first tool I have been using in working with my expectations is to tell the best possible story.

This doesn't mean pouring pink paint on problems and pretending they don't exist, but the truth is that while something is happening we can rarely know for certain that it even is a problem. It can be painful, yes, but we have all had events happen that we interpreted as "bad" at the time, but later, in retrospect, we can see things that were actually good about what happened, sometimes even very good and usually we can see things weren't nearly as bad as we thought they were at the time.

Telling the best possible story is easier when you remember the story of the farmer whose horse runs away (I 'm sure you've heard this one, but in case you haven't I'm going to give it a go) and his neighbors all come around and say "this is such bad luck that your horse ran away" and the farmer says "bad luck, good luck, who knows" and then his horse comes back and brings 2 other horses with her and the neighbors come back, too and this time they say "this is such good luck that your horse came back and now you have 3 horses" and the farmer, of course says "good luck, bad luck, who knows" then his son breaks his leg riding one of the horses and you know what the neighbors say next and then war breaks out and his son, the one with the broken leg, is the only young man in town to survive the war ... you get the picture with this.

It is sometimes hard to know what is good or bad while we are in the middle of something, so rather than rushing to label something as bad, rather than judging it - we find a way to tell a good story about things as much as possible. The frame we put around the things we choose to think and talk about is up to us. And the frame matters.

Science is now proving that by looking for ways to feel as good as possible about the people, places, things and circumstances in our life - we are literally creating more good for ourselves. This isn't about pushing down bad feelings, but re-languaging what is happening is very powerful stuff. I have already been seeing myself getting luckier as a result of small changes with this.

So, maybe the next time you go to lunch with someone or out for coffee - choose the direction the conversation flows deliberately - see if there is a way for you to tell the best possible story about the things you are talking about.

#2 focus on how we want to feel, not what we want to get (next post)

One thing I wanted to say about the advice I offer on this blog. I am an expert in exactly one thing - myself (and my expertise is called into question on that all the time ...). I know for certain that each of us is different and each of us is here for different things. One person really needs to step on to the stage and one person really needs to go to the back of the line and these people could be the same person at different points in her life. So, if something here doesn't resonate with you, just let it go. I think, for me, my basic human nature is not so optimistic so this is a learned thing for me; something I have to continually work at. It may be your basic nature to tell the stories with the least amount of judgement already, so just keep telling them ...

4 comments:

KJ said...

I really am a happy person. I really am blessed. That does not mean there are not issues in my life. Right now a family member is in trouble and there is nothing that I can do to help other than wait until she is ready. What I am doing now is plan for that moment.

LOL at myself- there is no doubt that I am a planner.

stregata said...

You are a wonderful storyteller, Cat. And your advice is always sound - how we integrate it into our own lives is up to us.

Catherine Ivins said...

Thank you Renate! xo

I think the way our most basic self looks at things (positive vs negative) is kind of innate - I tend to look ahead, think something will not work or see all the potential pitfalls (most or all of which will probably never happen) instead of seeing the potential wins. ... sounds like a smart move with the family member Kathy ...

DancingMooney ♥ said...

I love you Cat. xoxo