My husband said to me, 28 years ago, you can be right or you can be happy. I was sure he was wrong.
I’ve done a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (yes, Happy-ology), studied and worked in the coaching arena for nearly twenty years, dedicated huge portions of my reading time to what makes people happy, and I still make most of these blunders.
The way to avoid happiness, it seems, is a mindfulness minefield.
And because of this, we bring ourselves unnecessary pain, suffering and hurt. Instead of letting the stuff that doesn’t work go, we persist, and wonder why happiness seems too far away.
So, starting in 2022, we are going to get clarity on what no longer serves us, and we will embrace the journey toward being our very best selves.
January 2022 – Give Up the Need to Be Right. I see too much defensiveness. Too much “I know”. Too much “You don’t need to tell me”. And as social media pushes us more into our little narrow silos, we get more convinced that our worldview is right, and that others are just wrong.
Each moment of righteousness creates separation, division, isolation.
Proving points over someone else achieves so little. A petty piece of turf in an argument? A fleeting sense of superiority? A momentary feeling of victory?
And now what? You have scored the “point”… and you have pushed people away, not sought to understand or learn, shown you are uncomfortable with connection…
I would rather be connected. I would rather feel close to another. I would prefer to know that the other person feels seen, heard and understood. And I wonder what the world would be like if we each decided that being kind, being connected, and being understanding was more important than being right.
February 2022 – Give Up Blame
Jack Canfield shares, in The Success Principles, that taking responsibility is one of the foundation stones to a great life. Coaching, cognitive behavioural therapy, and Neuro Linguistic Programming are all built on the same foundation. Blame will move responsibility from you, but it will also move the power to do anything about the situation you are in.
Taking 100% responsibility is not always the most popular message these days. And there are situations where you are not responsible. But you will always have the power to be responsible for one thing. And that is your response to the situation.
If your response is to blame, you stay stuck. Maybe
March 2022 – Give Up Your Negative Self-Talk
I began my coaching journey in 2003 because I was going crazy with my negative, self-defeating, fear-consumed self-talk. Leaving the house provoked negative self-talk. It was so bad I could go four hours without pause on catastrophising.
It was exhausting.
I became a coach to learn how to master my mind, instead of letting it master me.
I started with catching myself in one of my negative self-talk spirals, each time I remembered, and interrupting the cascade of negativity with a paragraph I wrote myself.
This is an example of what I would read to myself, until it became second nature:
I am worth it. My mind does not always know best. I am able to accomplish this, regardless of the fear my mind is determined to cultivate. It will get easier. I must learn this to get better at it. My bravery is earned through action. I will not get braver listening to my negative self-talk. April 2022 – Give Up Your Resistance to Change
Change is inevitable. Progress is not. Things will change. Circumstances will change. The world will change. Resisting the inevitable is painful, pointless and stops you living fully present to now.
Resisting what Is means we reject reality. This means we waste time fighting for a version of reality that does not exist. Usually, the illusion we fight for is for things to stay the same.
Embrace what is. Learn from it. Grow because you lean into it, adapt to it, and find your way within it.
Your life will not be predictable. Embrace this.
May 2022 – Give Up Judgement
Stop labelling things, categorising things, categorising people and deciding about something without knowing about it. You don’t know the person, the situation, the event, or what happened unless you were there.
Stop labelling and judging. You do it to make yourself feel better about yourself. You do it to belong to a tribe that does it. You do it so you don’t have to feel your own discomfort about aspects of your life.
It does nothing to move you forward. There is no progress in judgement. Shaming something or someone sets all of us back.
June 2022 – Give Up Your Need for Control
Surrendering to what is, letting it be, accepting it… easier said than done. But worth it and considered the highest form of spiritual practice.
When we try to control what is, or someone else, or a situation, or an event, we are not surrendering to what is there. This means we are not able to access how vulnerable we feel in this moment, how exposed we may feel. We avoid dealing with our own insecurities through trying to control “out there”.
The place we need to be looking is “in here”.
The more controlling we are, the less able we are to look within to embrace what’s going on, face it, comfort ourselves, and release the insecurity.
The longer we fight for control, the less we face where the real need for control lies… within ourselves.
Let the moment be as it is. Let them be as they are. Accept it as it is, and then response accordingly.
July 2022 – Give Up Limiting Stories About Who You Are
We all have patterns of thought and behaviour that have been with us for so long we don’t think to question them.
But we need to question.
We developed automatic habits when we were young as a way to cope with the environment we were in. We take these habits into our adulthood, and they are not fit for purpose. We need to upgrade how we approach our situations, so we don’t have our five year old selves running the show.
This involves questioning the stories we tell ourselves about what is true, and what is not true. Is it really true that all men are bastards? Is it really true that being wealthy means sacrificing love? Is it really true that success goes to the lucky few? Is it really true that vulnerability is weakness?
Questioning the assumptions and stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, others and our world is healthy. Releasing limiting stories about who we are is freedom.
August 2022 – Give Up Playing Small to Accommodate Others
Being invisible, making others comfortable, people-pleasing, staying silent… all are forms of abandoning ourselves that will not give us joy, or peace, or even love.
Playing small is taught in childhood. Adults let us know that we should remain silent, be seen and not heard, fit in, don’t question, and don’t make a fuss.
As adults, none of this is still true. None of it.
Time to learn your needs and express them, tune into how you feel and trust this, state what you want, risk someone not liking you (it’s happening anyway – the people who find people-pleasing annoying, controlling and manipulative already don’t like you) and generally go figure out what you prefer in life, instead of waiting to see what everyone else, who isn’t you, thinks.
September – Give Up Trying to Meet Other People’s Expectations
This is your life. It does not belong to anyone else. You don’t owe your parents a certain life because they “did everything for you”. That is the actual job of being a parent. You were a child. You could not do anything for yourself. The manipulation in “we sacrificed everything for you” when you had absolutely no choice in the matter, nor asked for any of it is, is worth a moment of pause.
This life is yours, and belongs to no one else. Trying to meet the expectations of others is the ultimate in self-abandonment. You will never please them. You will achieve one thing they wanted for “you”, and the goal post will move to something else. No matter what you do, and no matter how much you tie yourself in knots trying to please them, you will never live up to their expectations.
Because the source of their expectations is their own insecurity. Their own fear of what their life amounts to. Their own inadequacy in the face of their own mortality.
You can’t overcome all of that for them. Only they can.
Meet your own expectations. Blow your own damn mind.
October 2022 – Give Up Those BS Excuses
Yes, achieving what you want is hard. Yes, you will fail along the way. Yes, you will be judged by the armchair critics who aren’t doing half the things you are. Yes, you will stumble, fall, feel alone, and question if it’s worth it.
If you really want that goal, know all of the above is what you are signing up for.
You will not avoid any of it.
You will not be the exception.
So having any of that as an excuse for not pursuing your goal is really saying “I want it easier than everyone else. I want the results without the hardship. I want the good stuff with none of the learning. I want the shortcut that doesn’t exist.”
Good luck with that.
Or, you can do what anyone who has pursued their goals has done. You can dump the BS excuses that mediocre people recycle every generation for a millennia, and get on with it.
November 2022 – Give Up Thinking You Have More Time
This is the time you have. Right now. What you are prepared to do today, is what you will be prepared to do tomorrow. What you are focused on today will be your focus tomorrow.
If you want a better life, more happiness, more success, then know that this moment, this moment right now, is what you have.
Embrace it. invest in it whatever it is you care about. Bring all of you to this moment. This one precious moment.
Don’t delay. Don’t tell yourself you have more time. You will fill the time with more of what you’re filling it with right now.
The time will pass.
You will arrive at December 2023.
Things will be different only if you begin. So begin it. Right now.
December 2022 – Give Up Giving Up
Yes, life is hard, not everything goes your way, there are challenges, and the goals you really care about come with the huge price tags of effort, hard work, and no guarantee of success.
Do it anyway.
You have this life.
It is not a dress rehearsal.
It will not get any easier. And you will not get more prepared for what it takes just sitting there thinking about it.