Life’s not meant to be per­fect. But bet­ter? Dif­fer­ent? Why not? These ques­tions will help get you there...

Cosmopolitan (India) - - ZEST -

If you’ve of­ten felt you could be hap­pier in life, those urges will likely be stronger as we head into winter, when we’re all likely to feel a lit­tle low. But what to do? “Life is all about de­vel­op­ing, chang­ing, form­ing and re­form­ing,” says psy­chol­o­gist Emma Kenny. “Ask­ing your­self a few ques­tions can kick-start some re­veal­ing re­flec­tions.” So we cre­ated a list that could lit­er­ally change your life!

1 Do I live to work or work to live?

Work/life bal­ance is a key part of ow we achieve hap­pi­ness. “You an’t live to work in­def­i­nitely; we’re just not made to cope with that much stress,” says sy­chother­a­pist Phillip Hod­son. What’s healthy is eight hours’ work, eight hours’ rest and eight ours’ play. So once you reach a oint where you can take your oot off the throt­tle a bit, do it.”

“If we have one day of rain, we com­plain that it’s been wet for months!”

2 Would I like me?

A lit­tle self-aware­ness helps you un­der­stand other peo­ple and how they per­ceive you. “One of our ba­sic hu­man driv­ers is to con­nect with oth­ers and to want to be liked,” says life coach Claire Ko­ryezan. “Ide­ally, we want to see in our­selves what we’d like to see in other peo­ple, and the ideal is to treat oth­ers as you wish to be treated.” But how can we look at our­selves ob­jec­tively? “You need to con­sciously slow down and con­cen­trate on all the lit­tle thoughts that take you to the big one,” she says. Say you meet an ac­quain­tance and feel un­com­fort­able be­cause you’d rather leave than stay and chat, an­a­lyse each of these thoughts. Why didn’t you want to talk? Is where you’re go­ing im­por­tant? Are you happy with the way you pri­ori­tised? As each thought crossed your mind, did you be­have pos­i­tively to­wards the per­son, or might your ir­ri­ta­tion have shown? Then ask your­self if you’d like it if the ac­quain­tance went through these same thoughts. Think of other in­ter­ac­tions you’ve had—good and bad—to prac­tise. Even­tu­ally, you’ll be­come more self-aware, un­der­stand­ing your re­ac­tions and learn­ing to ad­just them so you are able to project a ver­sion of your­self that you re­ally like.


Be­ing clear about the peo­ple, be­long­ings and causes you’d stand up for shows what your val­ues are—and re­search has found that this is the key to hap­pi­ness. “The point of know­ing what you’d fight for is to fo­cus on what’s in­trin­sic to your ex­is­tence,” says Kenny. “These are the pil­lars of your life. Imagine life without cer­tain things— like a friend, their pol­i­tics, or shoes—and if you can, it’s proof you don’t need it.” It’s an im­por­tant ex­er­cise.

4 Do I tend to gen­er­alise?

If we see other peo­ple do well, it’s easy to think that per­son has it all and we have failed in some way. “But it’s rare to find peo­ple who have gen­uinely gilded lives, the same as it is to find peo­ple who faced dis­as­ter af­ter dis­as­ter,” says Hod­son. “The prob­lem is that we gen­er­alise one event—so if we have one day of rain, we com­plain that it’s been wet for months.” While most gen­er­al­i­sa­tions don’t af­fect our hap­pi­ness, it’s a habit that can com­pound low moods when some­thing doesn’t go our way. “If you feel you’re bad at your job be­cause you missed out on a pro­mo­tion, re­mind your­self that this is just a mo­ment in your life,” says Hod­son. You can stop gen­er­al­is­ing and free your mind to con­cen­trate on your next step.

5 Who is the luck­i­est per­son I know?

Life has ups and downs for us all, but we all know one per­son who finds the great house, per­fect job and Mr Right. “Hav­ing good things hap­pen is

of­ten about good plan­ning, for ex­am­ple an­tic­i­pat­ing pit­falls and avoid­ing them, but also con­sciously putting your­self in the way of op­por­tu­nity,” says self help guru Robert Kelsey, au­thor of What’s Stop­ping You? Be­ing More Con­fi­dent. “There’s a part of your brain called the ‘retic­u­lar ac­ti­vat­ing sys­tem’ that’s like an an­tenna. I used to have it con­stantly turned into how things might go wrong, un­til I de­cided to tune into pos­si­bil­i­ties and then act on them.” Kelsey ad­vo­cates us­ing episodes of bad luck as life lessons. “There’s a say­ing: ‘If you don’t like the fish you’re catch­ing, change the bait.’ Sim­i­larly, if you keep on do­ing the same thing and hav­ing bad luck—say, ev­ery man you meet is flaky—try some­thing new.”

6 Am I strong enough to ac­cept blame?

When some­thing goes wrong, our first in­stinct is of­ten to de­fend our­selves and try to de­flect blame on to some­thing—or some­one— else. It’s a habit many of us pick up in child­hood, but as adults we need to be more up­front. “By not fac­ing mis­takes, you risk un­der­min­ing your own cred­i­bil­ity with oth­ers and let­ting your­self down,” says psy­chol­o­gist Mike Gut­tridge. “Be brave. Say, ‘I did it, it was my re­spon­si­bil­ity and I was wrong,’ then ex­plain what you’ll do in fu­ture. That way, you can make clearer decisions next time.” Psy­cho­log­i­cally, you’re tak­ing back the power and show­ing you have the guts to own up. “You’re also free­ing your­self from any guilt as­so­ci­ated with know­ing that you messed up.” Ac­cept­ing your faults earns you more re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion.


“Think­ing about dif­fer­ent as­pects of your life and chal­leng­ing your­self to owe it your best ef­forts can re­ally fo­cus you on where you might want to make changes,” says life coach Pa­trick Mathieu. “Imagine you woke up and promised to give your all to ev­ery sin­gle task ahead of you— from mak­ing the best breakfast to what you do at work and how you’ll spend your free time. “Try liv­ing like that for one day and see how much bet­ter you’d feel. You’ll find new ways to get ex­cited about life.”

8 Am I hard on oth­ers?

When our stan­dards are set too high, it can make us quick to judge oth­ers—and dis­ap­pointed when their ef­forts don’t make the mark. “If you find your­self ex­pect­ing too much of peo­ple, recog­nise that of­ten oth­ers are do­ing their best and it’s just that their best isn’t our good enough,” says Kenny. “This helps us to ac­cept other peo­ple the way they are.”

9 Who do I mat­ter to?

We come into con­tact with new peo­ple all the time. But of­ten, the sheer num­ber of new re­la­tion­ships can be over­whelm­ing and we lose sight of the peo­ple who re­ally mat­ter to us. “If there are peo­ple who make you feel ‘less than’, or whose ex­pec­ta­tions lead you to feel­ing like you’re a fail­ure, then these are toxic part­ner­ships,” says Kenny. “Great re­la­tion­ships are are­nas we can en­ter and leave without a sense of guilt or re­quire­ment,” she adds.

10 Do I lis­ten?

We all like to think of our­selves as good lis­ten­ers, but we of­ten let judg­ments and as­sign­ments get in the way of our con­ver­sa­tions. “Lis­ten­ing is about keep­ing an open mind,” says Liggy Webb, au­thor of How To Be Happy. “By sus­pend­ing your own in­ter­pre­ta­tion, you’ll re­spond more ob­jec­tively.” So when you’re chat­ting, in­stead of plan­ning the next thing you’re go­ing to say even be­fore there’s a pause in the con­ver­sa­tion, wait. Fo­cus on what is be­ing said and don’t as­sume that what you say will be re­ceived the way you in­tended. Small talk is one thing, but when it comes to more se­ri­ous stuff, the right words can be hugely pow­er­ful.

t Wha “figh t

ldI wou for?”

“Can I re­ally keep blam­ing

bad luck?”

“Is it time to try some­thin

g dif­fer­ent?

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