Transforming Struggle

CalmUp® photo of dead flowersHow often have you set a goal that you didn’t achieve? It could be a major desire like getting a promotion or a minor hope like clearing your inbox daily. Yet no matter how much time and effort you put in, the outcome remains the same… no promotion and an overflowing inbox.

As a psychologist for over 20 years, I’ve heard countless stories about people being unhappy with their current life situation. Many people—including those who aren’t in counseling—have at least one desire they’re struggling to attain. What’s yours? Seriously, stop a moment and think about it.

We believe that the inability to accomplish a goal is a failure. We blame ourselves, or sometimes others, for our lack of success. What if we didn’t define success by our accomplishments, such as getting into the college of your choice, being chosen for the starring role, or having the fancy car, house, etc.?

The problem is the way that we define success, not the struggle itself.
I’ve wrestled with the following three ideas:

1. The Image: Mentally picture the outcome that you desire. Now imagine letting go of that outcome as you have defined it.

It’s All Too Much

Sometimes life can feel all too much. Yet, remember the title of Hunter Hayes’ country song, I don’t want easy, I want crazy! Can life get too crazy?

CalmUp® photo of orange flowers preparing to bloomThe solution for my own life this past year became clear when I re-prioritized what I consider to be most important. Determining what to let go of or add to your life doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might imagine. You’re the only one who can ascertain what’s of value to you.

I’ve found that generating personal priorities helps to maintain a sense of clarity. Yet priorities can change. Remaining flexible to one’s convictions, while remembering what’s important to your loved ones, is necessary when you’re seeking a degree of sanity. You don’t have to accomplish everything all at once.

CalmUp® photo of orange flowers blooming

Notice I wrote a degree of sanity! Then there’s the title of the movie with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Something’s Gotta Give. So for the present time, I’m writing a quarterly instead of a monthly blog, and letting go of those Monday Morning Moments™. I’m still available for walks and talks.

What’s Your Goal?

Psychologists Heidi Grant Halvorson and colleagues found that when people create goals, there are two different classifications: (1) Be Good and (2) Get Better. I found it helpful in my own life to learn about this research, and I’d love to hear how it impacts you.

CalmUp® photo of geese heads under water

Heads Under Water

Those who fall into the Be Good classification focus on proving themselves, caring primarily about how they are perceived by others. For instance, they would go for the “A” because of their belief that getting the high grade would reflect on them as a person.

People who fall into the Get Better group focus more on improving themselves, and go for the “A” as a way to master the material. For those who fall into the Be Good category, their attention is on the outcome of the goal, whereas for those who fall into the Get Better category, their attention is on the journey itself.

CalmUp® photo of geese heads above water

Heads Above Water

The meaningful piece of this research is that people can change their pattern. For instance, whenever you find yourself attempting to Be Good, you might improve the quality of your life by shifting your intention to Getting Better. When you open to the usefulness for both goals, you’ll discover that success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

18 Ways to Move from Cynicism to Enthusiasm

CalmUp® photo of Nicky looking cynical

  1. Understand that not everyone perceives the world the way that you do and life would be boring if people all had similar thoughts.
  2. When you’re being cynical, are you also being judgmental?
  3. When you find yourself feeling cynical, make sure that you’re not admonishing yourself at the same time.
  4. When you’re feeling cynical, are you being controlling and wanting others to behave differently?
  5. Open to the humor that can often be found in a cynical statement.
  6. Cynicism isn’t about “bad,” and enthusiasm isn’t about “good.”
  7. Admit that sometimes it feels good to be cynical, almost like an ego boost, as if others are wrong, while you are right.
  8. When it comes to moving towards enthusiasm, take small steps. For example, get in touch with the good feelings with which you are already familiar, such as stepping into a warm bath.
  9. Meditate and focus on your breathing. Observe how thoughts of cynicism and enthusiasm come and go.
  10. Notice your attitude when you first open your eyes each morning. Where are you in the range from cynicism to enthusiasm? Are you able to move from ugh to ahh?

Three More Tips for Success in Taking a CalmUp® Journey

A map can appear daunting when looking at it for the first time, especially when you don’t know where you’re headed. The CalmUp® Journey is no different. At first glance, one could feel overwhelmed by the levels, columns, and sentence completions. Once you figure out where you’re headed on the CalmUp® Journey (up!), you’re on your way to a better day.

Another Tip

Following the first three tips from the June 28 blog, here are three more pointers to help you find your way:

  • Let go of the fine print. Complete the sentences with the first thing that comes to mind. Consider responding from the soul instead of the intellect. For example, don’t assume that you’re doing something wrong if you complete Level V, and the answer you wrote down has nothing to do with Society. Since we can’t divorce ourselves from our environment, your answer is just fine.
  • Break it up. You probably can’t imagine how to create a new consistent 20-30 minute time period in your day. Please don’t give up before you get started. Consider completing the CalmUp® Journey in short 3-minute segments throughout the day or week. Whether you choose to take a long expedition or a short jaunt, at least you’re going!

Three Tips for Success in Taking a CalmUp® Journey

When I take my own CalmUp® Journeys, there are several ways that I flourish and improve my rating of peace and joy.

What's This About? See Blog July 15

Here are three pointers I’d like to share with you:

  • Get off the road and go your own direction. For example, sometimes I’ll complete the majority of the left column (the first 6 levels and especially the left side of the back page) before I’m ready to dive into the right column. Other times, I may jump around and complete one level or question from one column before another.
  • Use the left column of the back page as an arena to vent to yourself instead of your loved ones or coworkers. One way that I clear my own negative energy is to expand on each dark emotion that I listed in Level II. Specifically, I’ll rewrite that emotion on the left column of the back page and then list all of the reasons I’ve been feeling that way. By the time I complete my CalmUp® Journey, my concerns have typically resolved. Otherwise, I’m prepared to communicate assertively rather than aggressively.