Have you ever wondered why other people live an easier, happier life while yours is filled with chores and drudgery?
Why does it seem like helping your kid with her homework drains the life force right out of you, while other mothers talk about how they look forward to that time with their kids?
For you, stacking the dishwasher requires the same kind of energy needed to climb a Colorado 14er; other women you know whistle while they work.
Are they simply better marketers of the good and glamorous or are they really living in an alternate universe?
In a manner of speaking, YES. They may have discovered a little secret called “a valuable reality.”
Valuable Reality = Helpful Perspective
A valuable reality, according to Shawn Achor, author of Before Happiness, is the perspective which guides our thoughts, behaviors, desires towards supporting the best versions of our selves.
The question is HOW do we generate this helpful perspective when what we see are the annoyances?
Take a recent conversation with a client who declared “Everything is a chore!”*
Narrowing it down to one aggravating chore, we began to explore the nuances of helping her daughter with her homework. “Go ahead,” I said, “List all the ways this activity is a chore.”
She gamely got started: It’s a huge time commitment; it’s a hassle, I hate the pushback when I try to help; it’s emotionally draining; it cuts into my “me” time; and the list went on. It was a robust list.
Then I asked her to list what else was TRUE about helping her child with homework. What were some of the positive aspects?
After a few moments of thought, another list began to emerge: It is great one-on-one time with my daughter; It’s our chance to be silly together; It helps my mind stay sharp; It’s a time for me to create a special bond and a good memories; and the list went on.
The more my client talked about the positive elements of homework time, her entire demeanor changed. Her tone went from exasperated to almost awestruck. “This stage is so fleeting,” my client said. “In a few years she won’t need my help like this and I will want this time back. It is a gift, actually, that my daughter wants me to help her and that I get to spend my time with her this way.”
My client had discovered her most valuable reality.
Valuable Reality = Alignment with Values
A valuable reality doesn’t negate the negatives. Helping her child with her homework will still require a significant time commitment. The child might still pushback and be resistant when my client sits down to help. Homework time may, still, on occasion, feel a bit onerous.
However, my client now has a more direct path to how she can fulfill on her deepest desire: to be a good mother. By equating homework time with precious one-on-one time, my client’s thoughts and behaviors will now guide and support her towards creating special memories and deepening the mother-daughter bond.
A valuable reality expands our perspective. When we seek positive interpretations of the events in our lives, we are able to acknowledge a bigger, happier picture.
We tend to forget, when focused solely on the negatives, that there are a whole host of positive elements which also happens to be TRUE.
Choosing a valuable reality as our expanded, generous perspective, is ultimately, a choice to align more closely with our deepest held values.
*Story used with permission.
What about you?
What activities in your life feel like one, big, exasperating chore?
Go ahead, you know you want to: list ALL the negatives, and don’t hold back.
Are you also willing to acknowledge the equally TRUE positive aspects of this “chore”?
What is the most valuable reality you can choose to now approach this “chore”?
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