The Happiness Connection  

Don't wait to be pushed

I have an irrational fear of falling. I can stand on the edge of a cliff and enjoy looking down – if I don’t think I’m going to fall.

Ask me to jump over a narrow stream and I need to summon courage. I might fall into that six-inch depth of trickling water.

I knew this fear was going to be challenged, the first time I went on a zipwire.

I climbed up the tree trunk that lead to the platform high among the branches. I allowed myself to be hooked into the equipment, and I waited for it to be my turn.

I went to the edge of the wooden floor and sat down carefully with my legs dangling over the edge.

I could have sat there looking down for hours, without a moment of nervousness. The distance to the ground didn’t bother me at all. My issue was with the split second between sitting on the platform and sliding down the wire.

That moment when my brain questioned whether I would fall to the ground when I left the safety of where I was seated. I looked down.

My heart raced while my head told me to stop being so silly.

I believe that I would eventually have worked up the courage to propel myself off the edge, but there were people waiting behind me and I could sense their impatience.

I decided to take the easy way out. I looked up at the young man who was assisting each person to take the plunge.

“I think you are going to have to push me.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, he did as I asked. I was on my way through the trees before I had time to reconsider.

It was exhilarating.

Everyone has fears. I’ve been speaking with a lot of people recently who are making major life decisions. Their fear of the unknown is palpable.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Just like my zipline experience, mustering the courage to plunge into the unknown is much more challenging than being pushed into it.

If you are laid off from your job, you have no choice but to make a change. Deciding to leave because you want to work for yourself is much more challenging.

If your spouse finds someone new, you may be pushed into divorce.

Choosing to leave because you want something more means that making the decision and taking responsibility for it, are on your shoulders.

  • What if it doesn’t work out?
  • What if I can’t support myself?
  • What if I never find someone else to love me?
  • What if my new life is worse than my current one?

The number of what if questions you can create are endless.

How do you make a big decision when you have no guarantee that it will lead you to success or happiness?

You can’t.

But you don’t want to stifle yourself by being afraid to shoot for something greater. If you don’t try, you will never know what you can achieve.

Choosing not to change is also a decision. Staying where you are now comes with no greater guarantee of success than choosing to move on.

When I find myself faced with a choice that I want to make, but I’m nervous about the unknown, I approach it from two different angles.

What’s the worst that can happen?

I don’t look at this side to catastrophize and worry. I do it for clarity.

In the case of my zipwire experience, I could plummet to the ground and be paralyzed or killed.

What’s the chance of that happening?

Very unlikely.

If the chance of something horrific happening was high, my decision to back out would be an easy one.

If I wanted to leave my job, my worst-case scenario might be not getting another position where I made as much money. Is that something I could survive?

Remember, the primary drive of all humans is to survive, so I expect the answer would be yes. You could learn to live with less.

Taking public transit or riding your bike instead of having a car might be difficult, but not impossible.

What good things might be possible?

Let your mind dream big. Spend time visualizing the wonderful future that may lie ahead. Leaving your current work could make way for your dream job, or something totally different that you’ve never considered.

Weigh up the answers to these questions. Do the possibilities outweigh potential risks?

Listen to your intuition and take time to decide.

I often find it useful to examine both sides of my choice and then put it to the back of my mind for a while. Sleeping on it is more than just an expression.

Often, when I wake up, I know what the right decision for me is. Some unknown part of my brain has worked it out for me.

Once you reach this point, try not to regret the past or worry about the future. Put your energy into making the present the best it can be.

Live in the moment, not in the space of what might have been, or what could happen.

Even if things don’t work out the way you hoped they would, there are always lessons to learn and new decisions to be made.

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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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