MAY BE slightly overstated, but everybody is after the same thing:
To be able to take in experiences the way we want to take in
those experiences. If we did that, we'd feel better more often
and we would be the people we want to be.
What do I mean by "taking in"
experiences? I mean the way you interpret the experience. Your
interpretation determines your emotional reaction and your physical
reaction. For example, "When life hands you a lemon, make
lemonade." It's hokey, but how many times do you wish you
could actually do that?
How many times have you been frustrated
by something and wish you could have the perspective you have
occassionally at better moments?
Two different people experiencing the same
external, objective event will not necessarily take it in the
same way. For example, Evelyn's marraige is on the rocks, she
didn't get enough sleep, she drank too much coffee and she's
late for work. As she drives along the freeway, she accidentally
cuts someone off. He makes a rude gesture with an angry look
on his face. Evelyn gets upset by this. It bothers her for an
Shawn, on the other hand, has just recently
fallen in love. He's happier than he ever remembers being. On
his way to work, he accidently cuts someone off on the freeway
and the other driver makes a rude gesture with an angry look
on his face. Shawn appologizes as best he can through his car
window and hopes the other driver will forgive him. Ten minutes
later, he's forgotten all about it.
Shawn and Evelyn experienced the same event
but took in the event in a totally different way. Most of us,
if we had a choice, would rather respond to those kinds of events
the way Shawn did rather than the way Evelyn did, whether we
are in love or not, whether we are late for work or not, whether
we got enough sleep or not. Wouldn't you?
You would rather be what you want to be
in your better moments, right? But sometimes it doesn't seem
you have a choice in the matter. You just get upset. You don't
mean to. You don't want to. But you do.
A cognitive therapist would help you find
beliefs you have and help you see those beliefs as irrational.
For example, maybe you expect others to always treat you with
courtesy and respect and when they don't, you get upset. The
therapist might help you see that while it is nice when people
treat you well, it is somewhat silly to expect all people to
do that all the time.
A positive thinker might tell you to get
in the habit of forgiving bad behavior like the angry driver's
by explaining the driver's reaction in a different way, or making
up a story that helps you feel less upset. Maybe the driver's
daughter just died at the hands of a rapist, and the poor man
is out of his mind with grief and anger. His rude gesture is
totally forgivable in that light.
An NLP practitioner might help you discover
your see-feel circuits (seeing the gesture and the angry look
and automatically feeling upset) and give you new choices in
master might try to help you experience the precious fleetingness
of this lifetime and the miracle of being alive at all. And from
that perspective, being upset by a stranger's momentary outburst
would seem a defilement of this sacred moment. You might learn
to wish that man better days and let it go.
Nobody wants to be grumpy. Nobody
wants to snap at people. Nobody wants to be rude or hurt others'
feelings. Nobody wants to ignore others or be a lousy listener.
And yet we have all done all of these.
From the outside, it is easy to see someone
else's expressed frustration or irritation as petty or uncalled
for, or an overreaction. It is easy to see the cause of the frustration
as unimportant and unworthy of such an outburst. But when it
is you responding poorly, that perspective is sometimes
not available to you.
We want to be what we want to be. We want
to be wise and kind. We want to be calm when it is a good idea
to be calm. We want to have a bigger perspective at times. In
other words, we want to take in experiences the way we
would at our very best, and we want to do that much more often.
That's the goal. That's what we're all after.
The key factor is the way you interpret
events. How do you interpret what do you do internally
with the outward event? If you interpret events well (as
you do at your very best), your internal reaction is what you
want, and your behavior is what you want. Your interpretation
is the key.
And you don't want your better interpretation
to be forced. You don't want to make yourself,
through gritted teeth, look at this in a "positive"
way. You want to be open and relaxed and compassionate and to
genuinely see things that way.
You want to take in experiences
external events the way you would like to take it. And
you don't want to merely respond the way you'd like, but
we're looking for something deeper: To experience the
events the way you'd like.
How? How would you be able to do that?
There are hundreds of ways. Thousands. One reliable long-term
answer is daily
meditation. Another is improving your ability to connect with people. But many tools will
work for different situations. One way to go about improving
the way you take in events is to start with something you want
to be better at dealing with, and apply a method that works for
that specific situation.
But the method isn't our topic here. The
reason I brought this up is to point out that while we are after
more effective actions and feeling good more often here, we're
actually aiming at something more important. A better mood makes
you feel better, but it also makes you respond better.
It makes you more like the person you want to be.
Anyway, it's a good idea to be clear about
the real goal. A better mood is the immediate, short-term goal.
The more meaningful, long-term goal is becoming the person you
really want to be more often.