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© 2012 Kebba Buckley Button, M.S., O.M.  World Rights Reserved.

It’s popular to review the previous year, and make plans for the upcoming year, around the end of December.  People love to make New Year’s resolutions.  But why not a mid-year review right now?  How would you rate your year so far?  Image

Would you like the rest of this year to be the strongest, healthiest, most financially thriving time ever for you?  Then try a fresh view of some situations you have been viewing as “problems”.   The idea of a “problem” is usually negative.  Problems cause you stress.  Then you have to manage your stress.  But try this different approach.  Write down the top 4 problems you have at the moment.  Don’t worry—the rest of us can’t see your list.  Think about the details of these topics for 2 full minutes.  Notice how heavy you begin to feel as you think about your “problems”?  Your shoulders get tight, your long muscles may begin to hurt, and your stomach may turn into a knot.  Your body is telling you that you are uncomfortable with these topics.

Recently, I caught myself stressing about all my to-do items, thinking of the list as a problem and feeling bad about it.  The key here is that I did catch myself.  I told a friend, “my list runneth over!”  I joked about it, then got back on track and prioritized the tasks, making the most of my time.  I felt better on every level.  All those to-do items are actually opportunities.  You don’t “have” to do them—you “get” to do them. So talk about what you “get” to do, not what you’ve “got” to do.  And getting each item done feels good.  Write each item—you are writing down your to-do items, aren’t you?  Then numbering them in the best order?  Then completing them as quickly as you can?  Be sure to go back to your list and check off each item when it’s complete.  That step becomes addictive, giving yourself approval for completions.  So now you can see your overflowing list as a “happy problem”, an opportunity to accomplish and feel good.  Your body will feel lighter as you take this approach.

In a relatively new restaurant specializing in quick lunches, I asked the owner how business was.  The store was fairly full and the crowd was eagerly queuing; those who already had their lunches appeared to be munching quickly, quietly, and happily.  When I asked, the owner got a pained look on his face and said how people were just streaming in and streaming in!  He said it was like there was no end to it, and he looked miserable.  His head bent to the side and his shoulders drooped as he expressed his stress.  I said, cheerfully, “well, good!  I’m very happy for you!  Especially during this recession!”  The owner looked shocked, then switched to a smile and said, “You’re right!  It’s a good thing!”  His posture completely shifted.  He had a “happy problem”.

Recently, an Episcopal Priest, Fr. Jim Clark, was talking about something that really stressed him out.  Fr. Jim’s church is the beautiful St. Barnabas on the Desert, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The sanctuary has a circular communion rail around the altar area.  An unintended consequence of the design was that people arriving and leaving the communion circle come face-to-face with each other and must always step aside to prevent running into each other.  Ushers try to direct the chaotic flow, and many smiles are exchanged as people kindly make room for each other.  Fr. Jim mentioned his stress over communion traffic to Father William Meninger, a Catholic priest and author of books on the contemplative life.  Fr. Meninger immediately suggested that Fr. Jim think of the “traffic” as a gift.  He suggested Fr. Jim recast his view of the situation, substituting the view that this “traffic jam” is actually another opportunity for intercommunity communion, for social connection.  And guess what?  Parishioners were already taking that view.  There was no negative “problem”.  It was a “happy problem”.  Fr. Jim’s body language changed completely as he talked about recasting the “problem” as a “gift”.

Now you.  Go back to your initial list of 4 top problems.  What aspects of those situations are really opportunities for achievement, things to give thanks for, or springboards for solutions?  What can you celebrate as “happy problems”?  How can you leverage those to reach your dreams this year?  How powerful will the rest of your year be?  It’s up to you.


— Comments welcome! —

Reach the writer at Kebba@kebba.com