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Do more of that by Michael Neill

Posted Jul 08 2008 2:07am

Michael_neillMichael Neill ofGenius Catalystand author of 'You Can Have What You Want' and 'Feel Happy Now' had an interesting article in his newsletter this week.  I have reproduced it for you below:

"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

Marcel Proust

I was speaking with a friend yesterday who told me about a simple conversation which changed her life.

She was in the midst of complaining to one of her teachers about her life when she said "I guess what I really want is to be happy."

He smiled at her and asked, "Do you ever get a happy feeling?"

"Occasionally," she replied.

"Do more of that," he said.

Nonplussed by the simplicity of the reply, she went on to discuss her failing marriage.

"Was there a time when your marriage was happy?" her teacher asked.

"Well of course, in the beginning."

"What was different?"

She thought about it for a few moments.

"I guess when we were first together I wasn't so critical of him all the time. Nowadays I'm obsessed with every stupid thing he's ever done, and when we're together it feels like I'm just waiting to see how he'll mess things up this time.

In the early days, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great guy he was and running through all the fun times we had together in my mind. All I wanted to do was just enjoy hanging out with him."

Her teacher smiled again, said "Do more of that", and walked away.

She said that her first response to the conversation was shock and a bit of anger at her difficult, difficult problems being dismissed like that. "After all," she thought to herself, "that's the kind of simplistic advice I would expect from my grandmother!" But then something shifted.

She could see her future out in front of her like a line, and she saw how her constant obsession with her husband's faults would lead to an unpleasant separation and divorce. Then she imagined making his good qualities more important than his bad ones and simply enjoying his company and could see a long and increasingly happy life together stretching on out into the future.

When she imagined herself continuing to obsess about her unhappiness, her image of the future became cloudy and grey; as soon as she imagined herself "doing more happy feelings", it brightened up and just thinking about it made her smile.

Since I knew her to be someone who was generally very happy and whose marriage, while no doubt not perfect, seemed perfectly wonderful, I asked her how she had made the change.

"It was actually quite easy", she replied. "Once I really saw the impact of my obsessing with what's wrong and compared it to the possibility of focusing on what's right, I just naturally started to do less of what wasn't working and more of what was."

"But what about when you were caught up in a negative spin?" I asked.

"I either waited it out, knowing it was just a low mood and would pass," she said, "or sometimes, I just changed my mind."

Now it was my turn to be nonplussed.

"You just changed your mind?"

"Sure. Haven't you ever had a negative reaction to something but then, as you learned more about it, you decided that it was actually a good thing?"

"Of course. When Nina first told me she was pregnant, I thought it was a disaster and that I was going to have to give up my work and become a plumber. As soon as my son was born, I realized how gloriously wrong I had been and now having kids is one of the most wonderful things in my life."

My friend smiled at me mischievously.

"Do more of that."



Today's Experiment:

1. Think about a situation in your life you would like to change for the better.

2. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In the left hand column, jot down everything that's wrong with that situation and how you behave in relation to it.

3. Next, use the right hand column to note anything that *is* working and how you behave in relation to it when you are at your best.

4. Look at the left hand column. Imagine how this situation will wind up if you keep thinking about it and responding to it like this.

5. Now, do the same with the right hand column. What would it be like if it kept getting better and you kept responding to it in this way?

6. Whatever you discover that works in the right hand column, do more of that!

Have fun, learn heaps, and when you're convinced there's no hope, realize that it might be time to change your mind...

With love,

michael




To subscribe to Michael's newsletter or to post your thoughts on the discussion forums on his website, visit him online atGenius Catalyst.

(c) 2008 Michael Neill/All Rights Reserved

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