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Acceptance: “Happy In Spite of” vs. “Happy If Only”

I recently spoke about “Building Trust: Brain Clues and Body Language” at the 2018 National Association of Senior Move Manager’s (NASMM) conference in Jacksonville, FL. My presentation covered topics that I’ve been researching since early in my career in Fortune 250 Companies. My interest started with neuro linguistic programming, then body language, and now I’m discovering more and more about neuroscience, and just how powerful the brain is.

One of my favorite go-to blogs is written by Eric Barker, who recently published his first book “Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” a Wall Street Journal bestseller. His writings are backed up by startling statistics and surprising anecdotes that help people understand what works and what doesn’t, so they can stop guessing at success, and start living the life they want.

While Mr. Barker’s blog posts are always timely and rich with “food for thought,” one of his recent posts really hit a home run with me. With all the social media rumblings and “stuff” happening in the world, the words I’m about to share are incredibly simple to say. But the impact – profound.

The words are “happy in spite of” versus “happy if only.” Let that resonate for a moment.

Which do you think is the more powerful statement?

“Happy in spite of” entails a choice to be happy; it acknowledges problems but doesn’t put them in the way of contentment. “Happy if only” pins happiness on outside circumstances: if only I had more money, less pain, a nicer spouse or house, I’d be happy as a clam…

We all have choices to make that help us control our own lives. While not everything that comes our way is to our liking, we are the best ones to make decisions on our behalf and for our well-being. But something to remember is that our response is always more powerful than our circumstance. A tiny part of our life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances, while the vast majority of our life is decided by our responses. Where we ultimately end up is heavily dependent on how we play the hand we’ve been dealt.

And yes, for many people, it’s uncomfortable to make changes to our life. But that’s part of the growth and development process. If unsure of our desired direction, think about where you want to head versus the infinite directions you do not want to go. Would you ever use a GPS to take you where you don’t want to go? No. Applying this analogy to life will help you be where you decide you want to be.

At Next Chapter Moves, we can help you deal with next steps, whether that’s downsizing or rightsizing, decluttering, organizing, aging in place, or moving. You customize where you need help, while remaining in control for what’s best for you.

Admittedly, some people are not ready to move…even on the day of the move. But we can provide you with options and comparisons to help you deal with what’s involved, how to evaluate your choices, and how long you’ll need to plan your next chapter.

Dr. Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, exemplified great human determination by not mentally giving in to Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 21, even though he was given only a few short years to live. He lived incredibly to age 76. Dr. Hawking took many risks, including at age 60, going up in a hot air balloon, and at age 65, taking part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727.

When Dr. Hawking was asked about his propensity to take risks, he replied that he “wanted to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

Dr. Hawking appeared to be “happy in spite of,” not “happy if only.”

I suspect this world would be a better place for each of us if only we could all be “happy in spite of.” And it can be. Because much of our circumstances are under our control and in our minds.

What do you want your life’s Next Chapter goals to be? At Next Chapter Moves, we’re here to help you accomplish them.

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