imagesMy women’s group meets tonight and we are discussing a short and eminently readable book called You Can Be Happy No Matter What:  Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective.  The author, Richard Carlson, is the fellow who brought us, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff”   I highly recommend both books.  While I don’t agree completely with all the premises in Happy, there’s much of value, and I find it all immediately applicable and transformative.  No small feat, it seems to me.

The five principles are Thought (we can manage ours); Mood (it varies from moment to moment, don’t give much credence to how things look in low moods); Separate Realities (each person’s world view seems wholly real and true to him/her, and in fact it isn’t at all!); Feelings (these are a reliable barometer for us to know if we’re heading in a good direction or off a cliff); Present Moment (it’s here and only here that genuine happiness and contentment reside).

images-1Recently I experienced a classic example of the principle of Separate Realities.  I am happy to report it contributed to happiness, not distress.  Yeah and hooray!   A (close) friend and I were heading out the door and I was scurrying to get ready (not an uncommon phenomenon!).  I asked what jacket he was going to wear as I rifled through the closet. He looked visibly annoyed.  I asked what the matter was.  Turns out that my asking brings up all kinds of negative stuff:  he’ll be held accountable if he suggests something and I’m hot or cold; he’ll get blamed, I’ll be annoyed; why don’t I take care of my own matters and not rely on him, why am I so last minute and don’t check for myself.

My perspective:  I really value how he checks the weather, is prepared, ready to go.  I trust his judgement, wouldn’t think of assuming he’d get it just right for me, just would like it as part of the input.  I appreciate not having to pay attention myself to some of the details….I’m often last minute but there you go, that’s OK…I don’t like being early.

images-2Talk about separate realities, eh?  Well, the good news is that we checked it out, put the whole interaction in the boxes labelled “Separate Realities” and “Small Stuff” and we had a good laugh 🙂

A little later we then each put out the idea that nothing the other person did ever really annoys us, and we have continued to laugh over that… largely because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Each of us has many big and littles that annoy the other.  But putting it out this way has helped us laugh instead of getting up tight about a lot of them.  It has really contributed to our happiness!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)  

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