How to Make Happy Choices

image_thumb[5]Although everyone would like to see a piece of the future in order to give them strength in the present, the difference between people is how much energy they spend in order to be able to predict the future. Most people would like to be able to tell the future, at least a bit, but some people are tortured by the desire to control the future by analyzing the past in order to improve the prediction of the future. I call them “the fortunetellers”.

In coaching, I meet some fortunetellers. I meet amazing people who are tortured by anxiety and are very unhappy. These people struggle with their decision making and find it hard to make decisions. If the average person takes an hour to make a decision, they need 5-10 hours to make the same decision. So they are pretty much time wasters and, being very smart people, they know time is precious, but they constantly feel they do not have enough time. In worse cases, when making a decision, they repeatedly second-guess themselves with “Was this the right/best choice? What if I checked another school/product? Did I check the back label?” Or they keep searching for the product they already bought, just to make sure they have made a good choice.

In psychology, these people are called Maximizers. The other group is called Satisficers. Research on the difference between Maximizers and Satisficers started in 1957, so it is not new science at all. A new research done in Florida in 2011 discovered that Maximizers tend to second-guess their choices and that leads to unhappiness. So if you are a Maximizer, or what I call a “fortuneteller”, you have the formula for being unhappy. If happiness is a choice, as I believe, this insight into the decision making mechanism may very well help you make happy choices.

Read more about how to make up your mind quickly


Powerful Suggestions

Woman under hypnosisIf you have ever seen a hypnosis show, you already know how this works, but if you have not, this should be very interesting for you. Either way, after watching a hypnosis performance recently, I think there are important lessons we can all learn from it.

On Ronit’s birthday, we went to a local comedy club. There is nothing happier than laughter and good comedy can really brighten up a birthday night, so there we were. The first act was a very good, but normal, stand up routine. We ate, we laughed and we had a good time.

The second act was called a “Comedy Hypnosis Show”. It started during the break with a multimedia presentation showing swinging watches, spinning spirals and other “street” symbols of hypnosis, along with boasting words about the performer himself and his abilities to deal with the subconscious mind.

“This is going to be cheesy”, I thought, “Maybe the hypnosis is just a gimmick”.

But I was partly wrong. It was only cheesy. The hypnosis was real. And impressive. And quite educational, actually.

Read more about taking control of your life

The Hunger Games

Frightened kids in The Hunger GamesThis week, Ronit and I watched The Hunger Games. We knew the general plot when we entered the cinema, but we came out feeling sick, not only because the film was excessively violent, not only because those who were violent in it were teenage children, but mostly because it was such a strong portrayal of modern life.

Both Ronit and I slept very badly that night and had very scary dreams.

In the movie, there are 12 districts full of poor workers who can barely get enough food to eat. Their life is mud (literally), they are dressed in light-blue working uniforms and live in fear. These districts are ruled by “the capitol”, a magnificent and decadent city, where people spend their time dressing to impress and trying to find things to entertain themselves. There is police/army force, dressed in white, which swiftly handles any disruptions.

But the main instrument of power is TV and there is one particular show in TV everyone must watch to remember their place in this futuristic society – The Hunger Games.

There were many similarities between The Hunger Games and our life, which I wanted to share with you. This will be depressing, so after that, I will also share with you how you, me and other parents can make reality different, for us and for our kids.

Read more about how to free yourself and your kids

Family Policy

Amazed little girlLast Sunday, Ronit ran a parenting workshop and I came in the afternoon to help her pack. When I arrived, she was still talking to the parents about rules and boundaries and mentioned the way she used “family rules” to avoid conflicts with the kids.

That reminded me of the time when I wanted to register for a software engineering course at the local university. The course I wanted was popular and all the places were taken, so I rang during my lunch break to ask to be put on the waiting list.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but you’ll have to come in person and fill out the waiting list form”, the administrator told me.

“Can you please just take my details and put me on the list?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s university policy”, she said.

Boy, was I pissed off at this. I was spewing for weeks afterwards. It may have even contributed to my later stomach ulcer. Or not.

Over the years that followed, more and more companies structured their operations in such a way that clients could not get their way. Not easily, anyway. When I rang Customer Service, I would bump into First Line staff who were basically trained parrots. The term “company policy” rang in my ears more and more often. It was infuriating.

But at some point, Ronit and I learned how to use the same trick to our advantage as parents. Oh, sweet revenge!

Read more about how to stop fighting with your kids

Success is Showing Up

Alarm clockI am a very busy person. I plan every day ahead. I know exactly how long it takes me to get from one place to another and I know how much time I am going to spend in any one place – at work, at university, at home, with friends, at dinner and on the bus. It is not because I need to feel a sense of control (maybe just a tiny bit), but in order for me to be able to squeeze in all of the things I want to achieve in a day, I need to be well organized.

I love being with friends and can accommodate almost any arrangement given enough time. I am always happy to rearrange my schedule to meet friends and spend some quality time. I also live at home with my parents and it is only fair that I share my plans with them so they can plan accordingly.

My timetable is pretty full almost four weeks in advance, so in order for me to make plans with friends, I need to know when and where we are meeting at least a few days beforehand. It helps me with my own sense of organization and allows me to be able to plan my time.

In the last couple of years, I have added more things to my schedule and my need for concrete plans seems to have become greater. A few of my friends have even commented on it, saying I needed to “live a little” or “be in the moment” or plain “don’t be so needy” when I have insisted on a definite time.

This got me thinking that maybe I was taking my time management a little bit too far. Maybe I need to be a little less uptight. Not everyone is as busy as I am and not everyone needs to be as organized as me, so I decided to cut everyone some slack.

Read more about the value of good time management

"Yes" parenting

Angry little girlParenting can be really challenging at times. Any parent will tell you that sometimes the challenge is so big they feel out of control – not control over your kids, but control over your reactions to what your kids do or do not do. After all, you are the “captain” and it is your job to run the “ship”.

The discussion about discipline covers many topics – the rights of the parents, the strictness of the discipline, the collaboration between parents (or lack thereof), the alignment of values between home and school (or lack thereof) – the list of philosophical discussions is very long. I have found out through my workshops that parents have only that much ability to discuss the philosophical issues of parenting and most of the time, they just ask, “Ronit, what can I actually do?”

In the first years of my work with parents, I worried about that. I said to myself that without understanding the philosophy behind things, they would not be able to manage the next challenge, but I was wrong, because parents can be awesome even if they cannot explain their theories and even if they do not have a deep understanding of the human mind. Some things just make sense to them and if they try them and they work, they just continue doing them successfully.

Today, I want to talk about a parenting technique that has worked for me like magic. It has helped me a lot not to get into arguments with my kids or with the kids I have coached.

I learned this technique from my dad – not from him being a role model of it, but from him being a role model of the opposite…

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