The Happiness Connection  

Coffee-shop wisdom

I do my best writing in coffee shops. I’m not sure what makes them such fertile environments for my thoughts, but they are.

Perhaps it is because I am separated from work and domestic distractions, or maybe it’s because they are a buzz of energy.

Regardless of the reason, when it is time to create my column, I grab my laptop and walk to my neighbourhood java joint. The walk is a good opportunity to think about possible topics, so I don’t spend my writing time, thinking.

I write on the same day each week, sitting at the same table.

For scheduling reasons, I had to write on a different day than usual this week. Writing about change seemed like an applicable topic, but I had one or two other thoughts that I was also mulling over.

When I walked in the door of the coffee shop, I found someone sitting at my table.

I felt off balance and momentarily wondered if I should just turn around and go home, but after a brief look of disbelief, I heaved a sigh of resignation and chose a different table.

As I settled myself with my coffee and muffin, I realized that I had indeed found my topic for the week.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you imagined a situation that didn’t pan out the way you expected?

Some people are born with a natural affinity for change. They look forward to it with anticipation, and are masters of going with the flow. 

Others are lovers of routine, and familiarity. When change comes their way, they try to avoid having eye contact with it, in the futile hope that it will pass them by.

I have spent most of my life in the latter category. I’m not sure if I was born this way, or learned it from my parents who love the comfort that familiarity brings.

You, too, may be one of these comfort-zone groupies, but one of the few things you can count on in life, is that nothing stays the same forever, even if you want it to.

Happy people may not love change, but they are accepting of it. If you want to increase the happiness in your life, take a few minutes to examine the relationship you have with new situations and experiences.

If you can honestly say you have no negative association with them, or try in any way to avoid them, all is good.

If you resist change, it may be time for you to take steps to become more comfortable with it. With practice, you may even learn to invite it in to your life. But let’s not get carried away.

At the very least, it is important to learn to accept change rather than resist it.

You can resist all you want, but you can rarely stop it from happening. All resistance does is keep you from feelings of positive well-being.

Change is harder for people who aren’t practised at stepping out of their comfort zones, so if you want to get better at new experiences, get better at stepping into the unfamiliar. Choose to venture into the unknown.

The more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel.

I used to imagine comfort zones as islands that we took a holiday from, but always returned to when we got tired of being uncomfortable.

This picture has changed since I started to imagine life as a continuous journey, or route that we travel.

Imagine a path with ever-changing terrain. Sometimes it is sandy, then it goes steeply up hill, only to become muddy as you reach the top.

By the time you get back to sand, the sensation feels new and strange. This time, you adjust quickly to the terrain, as it is something you have experienced before.

On your journey through life, the only way you can keep the surface under your feet the same is to stand still, or march on the spot. You may not feel the discomfort of new experiences, but life is likely to become boring, and monotonous.

Some of the best things in life come as the result of being forced out of your zone of comfort. You never know what may be around that unexpected corner.

Change becomes a natural part of life as you get used to experiencing new things.

As you learn to accept change, it becomes easier to navigate. If you can survive it once, your mind will rest easy that you can survive it a second time. The first time is often the most difficult. If you wait too long between unfamiliar experiences, every time you have one, it will feel like the first time.

Start by inviting change into your life on your own terms.

  • Change up your schedule.
  • Choose to do something habitual on a different day than usual.
  • Challenge yourself to sit at a different table in the coffee shop, until you have sat at them all.

When unexpected change presents itself, rather than greeting it with a doom-and-gloom attitude, find something positive in it. Happiness is a choice, and I choose to find a positive reason for sitting at a different table.

As I look across to my usual table, I see that two men have sat at a nearby one and are having a loud conversation.

My current table is much more peaceful.

I believe the universe has my back. It is sending me opportunities to change things up, so I can learn to be more adaptable, and less attached to familiarity.

Learn to be happier in your life by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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