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If you're anything like I used to be, you're really good at finding ways to improve things. And, listen, this is an amazing skill. But. Let's also talk about the beauty of focusing on what is already working first.
When I talk about noticing what is already working, people get concerned. Sometimes they get downright upset. Clients will say, what, you just want me to sit around enjoying myself?! as though that is absolutely the worst thing ever.
It's funny, because when we have goals that we want to meet, it's because of how we think we'll feel once we've met said goals. Usually, we think we'll be happier, safer, or more satisfied.
But when I suggest that there's value in seeing where we already are happy, safe, and satisfied, people start getting nervous. They're afraid I'm going to take their goals away (gasp!) or tell them not to complain about what's not working.
I"m all about goals (really - I love them) and I am not here to tell anyone not to complain.
But spending some time really noticing and enjoying what is working is an incredibly valuable activity. Here's why:
It counteracts the brain's natural negativity bias.Left to its own devices, the human brain prioritizes the negative. This has kept our species alive. But it also means that our brains keep showing us the bad news over and over again while simultaneously deprioritizing the good news. That's why we have to prioritize the good news on purpose.
It creates enjoyable feelings.Many of us think that if we stop and have fun, we won't get back on track. But the opposite is true. Noticing what is working feels good and feeling good inspires us to domoreof what's already working. It also protects us from the dreaded "what the hell" feelings that we sometimes get when all we do is notice what's not working.
It teaches us how to actually enjoy real life.This is perhaps the most essential piece. There's nothing wrong with continuous improvement, but if you're operating on the assumption that you'll be happier later when "things are better," you're wrong. Why? Because we're living the human experience, and in the human experience, there will always be things your brain thinks aren't working. But this doesn't have to be bad news. In fact, I think it's great news. Learning to enjoy real life now will help you enjoy real life later, whether you hit your goal or not.
It reveals which goals we truly care about and which ones we only want because we expect them to create our feelings for us.When you learn how to enjoy what is and you create all those positive feelings and you notice and enjoy them, you will learn something about yourself. You will learn what you actually want to do (your real goals) and what you only wanted because you thought it would "make you happy." And it's so great to figure this out ahead of time. So often, people work for years and bust their asses to get to some achievement, and when they arrive at it, they are surprised to find out that it doesn't magically fix anything. Their life is still their life, just with more money or a partner or a different body. But when we create enjoyment ahead of time, we can do our goals just because we want to, and not because we're trying to escape from a life that doesn't quite make sense to us or doesn't feel satisfying.
I am telling you. Taking even just 60 seconds once a day to notice and enjoy even one thing that's working will change your life. And listen, I do not mean telling yourself to be more grateful. None of that. Just ask yourself, whatisworking? WhatdoI like about this day, this job, this body, this house?
Please note that noticing and enjoying what is working is not at all the same as using "pleasure" to numb out or avoid your feelings. Noticing and enjoying is wayyy different from numbing out, and quite frankly, it's harder for most of us, because most of us don't have much practice at noticing and enjoying.
Let's look at some examples.
Eating one dark chocolate peanut butter cup (my favorite!) and really delighting in the silky richness of it = noticing and enjoying.
Eating 12 because you had a terrible day and you're over it = numbing/avoiding.
Being mad at the weather and then reminding yourself that you love fall because it's soup season = shifting from what's not working to what is working.
Being mad at the weather and then drinking a bottle of wine while scowling at the darkness outside = numbing/avoiding
And most of all, let yourself enjoy this shift if you can. When you remember to notice and enjoy what's working, just do that. It's not necessary to scold yourself for falling back into the habit of noticing what's not working. Brains notice what's not working. It's just a thing they do. And when you notice your brain doing that, you can just say, ok, brain, but what is working?
And y'all, if you want to crush your goals and have fun doing it, I can help you with that. Schedule a consult and let's talk about it.