I believe that the single greatest deterrent to achieving happiness is all the clutter or “noise” going on in my mind at any given instant. For example, I wasn’t even able to write that single sentence without updating my to-do list, responding to an email and, in general, thinking and re-thinking about exactly what I wanted to say. I was experiencing the exact issue that had started to derail me over the past several days and has likely been the cause of great strife in my life for as long as I can remember.
I have the bad habit of coming up with to-do lists, organizing my inbox and shuffling papers in a constant orchestra of chaos to help me avoid doing the tougher tasks in my life. Rather than address the challenges that are causing me the greatest pain, I simply move the pain around in an attempt to believe it is going to resolve itself. It is almost as if I am more comfortable with the pain that I know than the pain that I don’t know. HINT: The pain you don’t know might actually not be pain at all, it might actually be happiness.
I recently had a toothache after I had two crowns put in my mouth. I had this pain for 4 months! I don’t particularly enjoy going to the dentist and so each time I experienced the pain, which was increasing daily, I would simply accommodate the pain and irritation. I finally had enough and decided to call the dentist and make an appointment. To my surprise, he was able to see me the same day. Upon arriving in his office, he immediately took x-rays and examined my mouth to determine that nothing appears to be wrong…this was disappointing and probably the major reason I wasn’t interested in going in the first place. Then something amazing happened! My pain was validated. The dentist said he clearly believes I am having pain and recommended we remove one of the crowns as it is possible that a seal might not have affixed properly. The bad news – I had to spend the next two hours, four injections and a bit of drilling to extract the crown in what I would describe as excruciating pain and discomfort.
While there was certainly short term, acute pain – I was completely relieved that evening. The pain I had come to live with was gone.
This single example can be extended to everything I deal with on a daily basis. Are there difficult emails from clients that I am not responding to? Am I delaying the delivery of a project for fear of judgment, failure or humiliation? Am I delaying something because it isn’t “perfect”? Am I avoiding conversations with my spouse because we may argue? The “noise” I am referring to above is the little conversations with yourself preventing you from acting. The little voice that is able to rationalize and support all your decisions – both good and bad.
A Plan For Living (APFL) was designed to address these exact scenarios above and many more. As promised, APFL didn’t get rid of my toothache or any other issue in my life – it DID allow me to start to see a pattern of frustration and irritation that was starting to get out of hand. My toothache (or client email or anything else I was delaying) was impacting my personal relationships. Rather than being completely present with my wife, kids, clients, colleagues and myself – I was obsessing over how to continue to orchestrate the chaos without ever addressing any of them.
I began using the Goals section of the app to identify my most difficult or frustrating tasks and commit to them. It did not happen all at once. I started to complete them, a few a day, and in less than a week I had a completely different outlook on life. I was again living in the present moment. This new found awareness of delaying anything I didn’t want to deal with was disrupting my ability to achieve true happiness.
My simple formula proved to work again: Gratitude + Spirituality + Mindfulness = Awareness = Happiness!
What are you putting off today that can help you live by the formula described above?