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Unhappiness: The Best Problem to Have

Unhappiness: The Best Problem to Have

Of all the problems that you can have in your life, unhappiness is one of the best. That might seem strange. After all, who wants to be unhappy? We’ve all been through hard times in our life, whether it’s losing a job, finding out a loved one is sick, or even something as small as your favorite TV show being canceled. Whatever your cause for being unhappy, it is an actual feeling. But what you have to realize is that your feelings are in your control.

Being happy is a choice.

When something good or bad happens to you, you choose how you react to the situation. Nothing is forcing you to respond a certain way. Your feelings and attitude are yours, not anyone else’s. You decide how to move forward and do what you can to be happy again.

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It was few years ago that I learned this lesson for myself. I was working for a company in another country. I was with good people and I loved my work. It was the type of environment where I should have been happy. I was doing good, I was making a difference and I was learning about a new culture and meeting with people I came to love and respect. All in all it was a great situation. And yet, I found myself unhappy. I felt stuck in rut. My partner was a local and there was a huge language barrier between us, not to mention the cultural differences. We struggled to get things done and it seemed that everything was repetitive. I wasn’t being challenged, I wasn’t growing.

One day I was meeting with the company president. He is an amazing man that has accomplished equally amazing things in his life. He asked me how things were going and I talked about the work and the people. Then I told him that even though things were going well, I wasn’t happy. I thought he would tell me that unhappiness is a hard problem to deal with but over time you can change. I thought he would talk to me about a process to go through or tell me that I had no right to be unhappy and that this was a unique opportunity and not many people would get to experience it.

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The answer I was expecting never came. He looked at me and said, “Congratulations, that’s the best problem to have!” Shocked, I asked why. He told me that happiness is a decision you make. He challenged me to walk out the door a happier person. To my surprise, I did. Once I made up my mind to be happy, nothing could stop me.

My happiness is my choice. I can’t control what happens around me or what people do or say, but I can control my emotions and my response to those things. I have decided that my happiness is more important to me than letting someone else take it away.

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Making that choice.

Throwing off that cloud of unhappiness starts with your thoughts, your mindset. That will change before the situation does. You have to train your thoughts to focus on the positive. This can be a challenge, but the end result is worth it.

Making the decision to be happy doesn’t mean that you ignore the reality of the situation or downplay the challenge you are going through. Life can be hard and there are some challenges that people have to face that may not seem fair or right. When we are going through the hardest times in our lives we still have to remember happiness is a choice. Whatever your lot or situation in life, you can choose to find happiness.

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There are people all over the world who are able to see past sickness, deformities, loss of family, friends or possessions and still find happiness in their lives. There have been several wildfires spreading in states across the U.S. this year. It’s amazing to hear people who have lost their homes and everything they own talk about it later. Many of them say they are just grateful they are alive. They understand that even in the most trying times, you can still find something for which you can be grateful, something that gives you joy.

Just remember that your happiness is in your control. You can make up your mind today to get rid of that unhappiness you’ve been carrying around. It’s not a burden you have to bear. Find something that gives you joy and focus on that. This your decision. Make it happen!

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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