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Y'all! I was interviewed on a podcast! Click here to hear me talk about the transformative power of writing practices. You'll love it and you'll get actionable steps to get started.
Ok, now back to my question about delight. I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, you want more delight in your life. And you can have it. But first, pause right now and take a minute to think about the last time you felt truly delighted. What was happening? Where were you? What was the delight about?
Most importantly, what were you thinking?
Because that's what delight (and every other feeling) comes down to: your thoughts. This is why two people in the same situation can have such different feelings about it. Because they're thinking different thoughts (and making different meaning) out of the same circumstance.
Last week, I wrote about my internet going down, right when I really needed it.
After I sent my newsletter out, I got a call from the internet people and they were able to get my service back up much faster than they'd originally said they could. I was delighted. But I could have just as easily been annoyed that it had gone down in the first place.
Before they'd called, my brain had been busily trying to figure out how I would rearrange my work until the internet was working again. It had come up with several different ideas, rejected most of them, and settled on a few options.
But then the internet was fixed earlier than expected, and none of those ideas were needed. I was relieved. But I could have just as easily been annoyed at "wasting my time" brainstorming solutions I wouldn't need.
This is why it all comes down to thoughts.
For most of us, when a piece of technology fails or something doesn't go according to plan, we take the current circumstance and extrapolate it into an entire imaginary future where everything is terrible and nothing goes according to plan and we have to figure it all out but we also can't figure it out because every time you do, something else goes wrong.
This is catastrophizing, and it's very common. But what's also going on here is that we're resisting reality.
The reality of life is: things don't always do what we think they should do. Sometimes the internet goes down. Sometimes your bus is late. Sometimes a file you've been working on for hours doesn't save properly and your hard work vanishes into thin air.
And here's what's also true: we can and do figure it out. Again and again. In your whole life up to this point, you've figured out so, so many things, and so have I. Frankly, we're awesome at figuring things out.
But. In the moment when we first realize things aren't doing what we want them to do, we often make the situation worse than it is by insisting that it shouldn't be happening.
Y'all know I am all about the high standards. I agree that things should do what they're supposed to do. My internet should work. The bus should arrive on time. Google Drive should automatically save my work like it's supposed to. But here's what's also true: that's not always what happens.
What coaching has taught me to be able to do is to separate out my preferences (that my internet work) from my ability to accept reality (and here I do not mean condone and I also don't mean resign myself to - I mean to simply acknowledge that in the world we live in, the internet does not always work, even if it is "supposed to.")
Before coaching, I didn't understand this distinction. I thought that having high standards meant expecting the best and fighting with the world anytime it didn't deliver.
But resisting reality doesn't change reality. As I said, technology will fail sometimes. I don't have to like it. I don't have to condone it. But when I stop resisting reality, then I can use my energy to decide how I'd like to think about the situation. I can use my energy to figure out what I'd like to do, given the circumstances.
And there's an amazing side benefit to giving up the fight with reality. When I stop fighting reality, when I accept that the internet is down and it's up to me to figure it out (and that I can, in fact, figure it out), then 1. I don't need reality to change in order to be happy and go about my day and 2. when the internet gets fixed early, it feels like a gift instead of like the thing that should've been happening all along.
And that's what I want y'all to really take away from this week: when we expect things to be perfect all the time, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment. Because the world is not a perfect place.
If you expect 100% perfection, you will never be happy with anything you have or do or are. But if you accept that reality is imperfect, then you can enjoy what is working, even if other things are "going wrong."
With the help of coaching, you can even learn to enjoy what isn't working. Because how much we enjoy something is determined not by the circumstances, but by our thoughts. You might not choose to do this, but you might, and it can be fun.
Last week, after I was done being annoyed, I chose to think that the internet being down would be fun to write about (and it was). And then when things do work "the way they're supposed to" or when they surprise you by working out better than you'd anticipated, then you can really delight in them.
And that's what we want when we want things to go well or to work the way we think they should. We want to be delighted (or at the very least, we want to *not* be annoyed). But expecting life to be perfect doesn't work. Because expecting something to work all the time creates impossible standards. It also undermines our own gratitude. The more we think things should be a certain way, the less likely we are to enjoy them when they are that way. We only notice them when they don't do what we want them to do. We only feel feelings about them when we're annoyed that they're not working.
And this just sets us up to be unhappy.
It's funny, right? The more we try to make our lives the way we think they should be, the less we enjoy them. The more we focus on our high standards, the more we feel like failures. The more we want our lives to be perfect, the worse our lives seem, even when they're objectively getting better.
If you want more delight in your life, try doing things the other way. Try noticing everything that is working. Not because you should. Not because it's better. Just because it's fun. Just because that is where the delight is.
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