Happiness – Part 3

happinessThe key objective of the first blog on this topic was to define or redefine happiness from something that you pursue, to something that you eliminate – fear. For the second blog, it was to identify 3 distinctive scenarios of causes of that fear – yourself,  others and situations – or perhaps any combination of these. In this final part, let’s focus on removing fear specificallly from each of those scenarios.

A precursor to the tips is to recognize fear itself in you. It is not just the stereotypical “scream and run” behavior that we frequently associate with fear. In the workplace, it is often very subtle. From being afraid to share an idea, to accepting poor treatment, to not wanting to be there or be with certain individuals, to feeling bullied, to just accepting mediocrity, fear is masked in many ways. The worst is when you feel there is just nothing you can do to make things better for yourself or your place of work. In sports, it shows up in your monologues (individual sports) or dialogues (team sports) and not being able to do things that you know you are capable of doing. During competition, fear results in very poor decisions that in hindsight seem inexplicable to you. Physically, whether at work, sports or life, fear (high cortisol levels) leads to stress, physical ailments and physchologically impacts every dimension of your life because it is your mind and body that is in all those dimensions in life. It is not like work lives in your laptop and you can just leave it at work and go home and be happy, or vice versa. So make sure you recognize yourself in these states so you know it is time to pull the trigger on one or more of the tips below.

If the cause of the fear is yourself and your past that you are bringing to the present, here are three tips:

1. Just start to talk about it.  It being the exercises I had you do at the end of the last blog. The answer is not an answer, it is the process of finding a way to peacefully live with your past. So talk to your spouse, partner, best friend, confidant, coach, mentor, spiritual guide, support group – anyone. You cannot afford to be your own source of fear. You cannot afford to be your enemy.

2. Recognize that your happiness is the best revenge for just about everything.

3. Help someone else who has the same problem as you do.

 If the cause of the fear are others, here are three tips:

1. Remove repeat offenders from your life. If it is someone (a boss, for example) that you cannot do so, then remove yourself.

2. Recognize that anyone who intentiionally or worse, unintentionally, is harming you, is in a great deal of pain themselves. Pity them instead of giving them more power over your happiness.

3. Recognize that the real competition has always been and will always be, who lives with the least amount of fear. So pick your compeition and competitors in this spirit. You can win when you lose more often than you think.

If the cause of the fear is a situation, here are three tips:

1. Breath with slow inhales and even slower exhales. Physiologically, the goal is to access your cognitive functions which is where good decisions can be made. Slow breathing releases counter hormones to cortisol in your brain.

2. Rehearse and practice in as close to that situation often. Simulate not just the situation, but the feelings too. Cortisol releases are reduced in intensity if the situation is familiar, and increased when not familiar.

3. The 1-2 hours before the situation is more important that the situation itself. Great athletes lock themselves up before game-time and meditate themselves into visualizing exactly how they want the situation to unfold. The goal should be to put your mind in a place where it would take a herculeam amount of cortisol to throw you off your game.

Like all tips, these or any mutation of them will need to be customized to you specifically. But start with these depending on the situation and work yourself to be the master of regulating fear mostly so that you can make good decisions at the time you need to, which collectively add up to winning the only race that matters – your happiness. Talk to anyone on their death bed, and this is what they will all say they wish they had learned sooner in life.

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