HAPPY OR UNHAPPY?

Most of us want to be happy, and yet, too many of us are consumed with our crankiness, fear, depression, feeling unloved, insecurity, being miserable, feeling inadequate, feeling betrayed, etc., essentially being wrapped up in chronic unhappiness!

In addition, I am often struck with the large population of people who are persistently stuck in unhappiness. These malcontents are often whining, bellyaching, criticizing, obsessing, bleating, condemning, catastrophizing, awfulizing, and complaining. 

I believe that people will keep choosing familiar routines like this simply because they are familiar, regardless of whether they like it or dislike it.  Some examples of this are below. 

THE RESTAURANT

You go to the same restaurant and order the same item on the menu. This routine is common and it is a great habit if you really like that restaurant and that particular item on the menu. Some of us do!

On the other hand, you may be mixed on how much you like the restaurant and/or the item on the menu. You may have impulses to try new items and a new restaurant yet this restaurant is familiar, as is the same menu choice. It is okay and it will do.  It is good enough rather than being terrific.

The above example is certainly familiar to many of us. We often prefer predictable food even if it is just okay simply because we want to avoid something unpredictable… though it might be OUTSTANDING. It sometimes seems that avoiding being MORE unhappy is MORE important than seeking out MORE happy!

MARRIAGE

Think about people you know who have been married for a long time. How many of them seem to be really happy?

Many are either unhappy or resigned (blah, beige, surrendered). Somehow they have lost their smile. You can often spot these couples at a coffee shop while having breakfast.  You can tell right away they are unhappy because they ignore one another and look miserable. They eat in silence, waiting for life to be over, all while being addicted to their phones.

It could be concluded that they behave as if they are going to same restaurant, ordering the same menu item, and are resigned to being underwhelmed with their choices and lot in life.

Many married people become resigned with the following chronic thoughts or remarks:

  • This is all I can expect anymore.
  • I have to just lump it.
  • I have long since given up trying to get his/her attention.
  • It’s cheaper to keep her.
  • I’m too old to change. He/She doesn’t care anymore.
  • I don’t care anymore.
  • Who would have me at this age?
  • It is unrealistic to want more.
  • I guess this is the best I can expect.
  • He doesn’t listen. He is wife-deaf.
  • She simply wants nothing to do with me.
  • We are roommates.

Gee, this is beginning to sound very similar to our perspective about the restaurant; avoiding being more unhappy is MORE important than seeking out MORE Happy!

If you follow these examples you will be STUCK with the insane belief that PREDICTABLE UNHAPPINESS IS PREFERABLE TO UNPREDICTABLE HAPPINESS!

If you are like most people, you will blame everyone but the person in your mirror

The restaurant — “They don’t care about customer service anymore. The food quality has deteriorated.  The coffee is cold.”

The marriage — “He doesn’t take me anywhere anymore.  She only pays attention to me when she wants to criticize me!  He/She ignores me all the time and watches TV.”

The result is that you start focusing on UNHAPPINESS, become resigned, and wallow in it.  You end up passing your life with time instead of passing your time with LIFE!

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LEARN TO SAY “NO!”

Most of us have real difficulty saying “NO.”

When we say “YES” rather than “NO” (which is often what we really want to say,) we get caught in a bind of one of the following:

  • We have enabled the other person(s) to take advantage of us.
  • We feel conflicted because they are perfectly able to do the work themselves and yet they want to be rescued… and we accommodate them.
  • They are sometimes playing “victim,” (a very popular state of mind these days) where they want to be saved, and we save them because we feel guilty.
  • We are more willing to be nice, popular, and helpful rather than encouraging the other person to solve the issue themselves.

Presently, we are noticing an enormous population in this country playing the “chronic victim” role… whining about their lives, complaining that too little has been done by others to help them, life is unfair, and continually singing the song entitled, “What have you done for me lately?”

Here are some popular examples:

  • A large group of millennials have long been told by their over-protective “helicopter” parents that they are special, wonderful, perfect, and deserve everything life can provide for them. This group of millennials have been so over-protected and enabled by their parents that:
    • Parents complain to college professors that their child’s grades need to be changed because their children deserve better.
    • Parents sit in on hiring interviews with potential employers to help their children get the job.
    • 36% of college graduate women and 43% of college graduate men are still living at home and subsidized by their parents (Pew Research).
    • 80% of baby boomer parents today are still paying for their children in some way (USA Today).
    • Parents have been caught bribing universities to gain admission for their children.
  • Your sibling wants you to keep giving him/her money.
  • Your parents continue to whine about their woes and make you feel guilty, so you rescue them with money and/or service.
  • There is a population of career homeless people who want to continue to remain that way while complaining, rather than taking responsibility for themselves and their future.
  • Your good friend continually wants help and you keep saying “yes” because you either want to avoid feeling guilty and/or experience criticism from him/her.
  • You keep over-accommodating a friend because you believe they will someday grow up and thank you for everything you have done for them.
  • Certain people in your network continually “borrow” money, never pay it back, and yet you still “loan” them money, while they keep singing the blues.

Much of the time you are asked to help someone who refuses to take responsibility for themselves.

At this point, you are often quite perplexed, and bewildered and still you believe that continually saying “YES” is a good thing. You keeping thinking:

  • My intentions are good
  • I can really help here
  • I can solve it right away
  • My advice is quite good
  • My need to be needed is being fed
  • I want to please them
  • I have to gain approval
  • I want to be popular and if they are unhappy with me, that is really bad!

Note:  To be clear, saying “YES” and helping others is often a very good thing. There are many wonderful people out there who need help and are very appreciative when you say “YES” to help them out.  Many of them want to return the favor.  You may notice that you can often tell the difference between people who show ongoing appreciation of the help you give and those who continually take advantage while manipulating you to feel bad or guilty if you say “NO.”

Further, if you think about it, you also probably know the difference between accommodating others when you are happy to do so in contrast to when you are over-accommodating in order to either gain approval, remain popular, or avoid conflict/feeling guilty.

Most of the time when you over-accommodate others you know you are doing it and you often regret how much you allowed them to take advantage of you.

So, what is going on here? What makes you so reluctant to say “NO”?  How is it that you keep enabling others to take advantage of you?

What is so awful about saying “NO”?

Here are some explanations of what might be going on in your head:

  • I want to please, gain approval, and be popular.
  • I want to avoid disapproval, disappointment, and criticism from them.
  • I want to avoid the constant concern that they will reject me because I said “NO.”
  • I believe I am only valuable to others when I help them, rescue them, and prove that I am worthy of their love, appreciation, and regard.
  • I hate conflict and disappointing others.  That reminds me of my past where I was continually criticized and mistreated, which made me feel inadequate and unworthy.  I felt manipulated all the time by people who used guilt to get me to say “YES” so I became a chronic “people pleaser.” My self-sacrifice became a habit and somehow it seemed a good thing to fall on my sword, become a martyr, and an over-accommodator.
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IT’S YOUR LIFE! IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER!

Oh my!  Do you notice what is going on around the world and especially in the United States? 

  • People are routinely being gunned down in churches, synagogues, theaters, entertainment events, schools, companies, governments, and homes.
  • Parents are attempting to bribe universities in order to gain admission for their children.
  • Highly respected manufacturers are being accused of significant crimes and misdemeanors while they betray their markets, deny everything, and attempt to defend themselves.
  • Politicians seem to be more interested in keeping their jobs, rather than actually doing their jobs.
  • Lots of people are routinely ignoring or rejecting facts about certain subjects, and instead spewing their vitriol reflecting their rabid criticisms about the same subjects.  They are unable or unwilling to create civil debates and discussions with those who hold different views.   
  • There appears to be some who think they are entitled to everything without taking responsibility for their lives.  Somehow they think, “I exist, therefore I am entitled.  What have you done for me lately?”  Gimme, gimme appears to be the chorus many are continually singing.
  • It is becoming more self-evident that many think it is preferable to become a professional victim… whining about their situation.  Blaming everyone else is now very fashionable.
  • Lying, cheating, blaming, whining, belly-aching, criticizing, condemning, and avoiding responsibility have become fashionable habits of a large population of citizens.
  • Caring, compassion, generosity of spirit, taking responsibility, and integrity all seem to continue sliding downhill and evaporating.

What has happened to our character, standards, adult behavior, self-respect, pride, and strong principles?  It’s time we rebuild, restore, strengthen, and promote our Strength of Character!

THE DETERIORATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETY STANDARDS

  • Manners. When out for dinner, it’s common to see those at the table more content being glued to their cell phone rather than enjoying the meal and talking with family or friends.
  • Anger.  More drivers are committing “Road Rage” because they think that another driver disrespected them or cut them off. 
  • Respect.  More and more, children and young adults are failing to show deference towards their elders and people in authority like teachers, police, parents, military, etc.
  • Clothing.  Many seem to think that it is acceptable to go out to an elegant restaurant wearing ripped jeans, t-shirt, and perhaps a baseball-style cap backwards rather than dressing as if it were a special occasion.  Moreover, many young men believe that the rest of us find it attractive to look at their underwear while their pants are pulled down to their thighs! 
  • Communication.  The formal written letters, thank you notes, and phone calls have gone by the wayside in favor of 280-character tweets or one word responses via text.  Rarely does anyone have a personal one-on-one conversation. 

Think about your life and how you are living it. For most of us, our lives are filled with some great ups, some painful downs, and a whole boatload of underwhelming vanilla in the middle. We frequently waste a lot of time either watching life go by or simply stalling with great intentions to get going real soon.

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RECONCILING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARENTS

LOVE WHAT YOU CAN LOVE, AND LET THE REST GO
HARVEST THE BEST, OFFLOAD THE REST

Part 1. Your new state of mind (your viewpoint).
Love What You Can Love and Let the Rest Go.

Part 2. Your new habits – (your conduct)

What is one of the most challenging dilemmas of life? It is trying to reconcile the gap between how much you love a family member and how much that same family member drives you crazy. Most of the time the targeted individuals are YOUR PARENTS; your MOTHER and/or your FATHER. Sometimes this dilemma appears to be irreconcilable!

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Pride is Very Expensive!

DOES PRIDE GET IN THE WAY OF COMMON SENSE?

Do you know someone who:

  • Holds on to a grudge for years
  • Has an inflated view of their own importance
  • Is self-righteous, sanctimonious, and “holier-than-thou”
  • Likes to win and hates to lose
  • Has to be “right”
  • Likes to argue and debate everything
  • Wants to avoid taking responsibility
  • Refuses to admit mistakes
  • Criticizes and blames everyone else
  • Believes life must be fair and equal with everyone all the time
  • Is suspicious of others and constantly defensive
  • Is easily hurt, victimized, and takes everything personally
  • Covers up hurt with anger
  • Plays victim and whines about the delicious agony of life
  • Has difficulty recovering from a failure or set-back
  • Denies their bad conduct and instead protests that they were misunderstood
  • Accuses others of the very behavior they routinely display

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Professional Victims

It appears that playing “victim” in the U.S. is getting more popular these days. I’m struck with all the whining, blaming, accusing, and bellyaching.     It seems like playing the victim is now becoming fashionable!   

Many people unconsciously play a victim role and, in so doing, they enable others to mistreat, criticize, take advantage, and be disrespectful to them. Others consciously choose to play victim so that they can continue to be irresponsible and blame others for their misfortunes.  Read more

DEALING WITH SELF-PITY IN OTHERS

How to Deal with People Feeling Sorry for Themselves

When you encounter people who are good at playing the role of professional victim, you will often notice that you routinely get seduced by them because they whine and they want an audience. When people swim around in the pity pot they often want you to feel sorry for them so they can describe the breadth of their terrible situation without any interest in solving it or doing anything about it. They simply want you to pay attention to them while they enjoy the “poor me” and describe the “delicious agony of life.” There seems to be something curiously attractive about being a victim and a martyr… apparently sacrificing yourself does get attention.  They will often say things to you like, “You couldn’t possibly understand what I have been through.”  Then you can expect them to waste your time while they describe the “poor me” in great detail and they can enjoy their victimhood and contest of who is the most oppressed person.  You will want to appear interested and likely conclude that you have enabled them to play victim while you are trying to be nice, empathetic, and appreciative of their plight.

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Breaking News!

Here is something pretty terrific! I am so tickled!

I have just been featured in the California Business Journal — front page. I encourage you to take a look at it and let me know your thoughts.

Click here: California Business Journal

Many thanks to all of you for your ongoing interest and support. It is most appreciated!

At your service,

Dr. J. Mitchell Perry