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Unhappiness: The Best Problem to Have

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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