The Happiness Connection  

Take the 66-day challenge

Last August, I started a month of challenges.

I decided to confront some old beliefs to see if they were still true or just habits. They included thinking my face shape needed bangs, hating milk, and assuming I couldn’t have fun taking dancing lessons if I were by myself.

Well, it’s August again and strangely enough; I have another challenge idea germinating in my mind. Actually, it’s more of an experience than a challenge.

  • What if I were hyper aware of all the limitations I place on myself?
  • What if I replaced them with spacious possibility?
  • What if losing weight could be easy, and didn’t involve any limitations such as calorie counting?
  • What if I could earn large amounts of money through my writing and speaking?
  • What if I could write a No. 1 best seller?

You may be rolling your eyes and saying to yourself if that were possible, everybody would be doing it. But what if everyone could be doing it? What if we can do things totally differently than we have been?

I’ve believed for much of my life that if we knew how, humans could heal themselves. I don’t know where this idea came from, it’s just been there.

Like Henry Ford’s famous words, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

This is the type of thinking that has led me to my decision to create a 66 Days of Possibility experience.

I recognize that there will be some of you thinking I must be a total nutcase, and that’s OK. I’m curious to see what I might be able to accomplish if I embrace possibility and release limitations.

I am going to experiment with my idea and see what happens.

Can I believe things are possible when I don’t have any evidence or experience to back me up? That’s what I want to find out.

For the next 66 days, if a limitation appears, I’m going to release it and look for new possibilities.

Why 66 days? The most recent evidence-based research shows this is the average time it takes to establish a habit.

I don’t have any idea what this experience is going to be like, but I have a couple of strategies in mind to help me get started.

I’m going to ask big questions, but not look for answers.

By throwing out a question and then giving it space, I’m thinking a totally new idea might show up.

I used to be a traditional problem-solver. If a solution needed to be found, I’d work my socks off to find it. If I couldn’t find an answer, I’d turn to limitation and think there wasn’t one.

This approach seems limiting. I was relying on what I already knew and had previously experienced to locate a resolution. I’m ready for answers that are unique and unexpected.

I’m going to let go of the expectation that something should look or resolve itself in a certain way.

I’ve been working on this for awhile.

When you think you know how something is going to unfold or what the result will be, your brain gets busy looking for things that fit the picture you have in your head. That is a sure way to miss opportunities that look different than what you were expecting.

By keeping my mind open, I am allowing room for something I haven’t even imagined, to appear. I like to call this divine inspiration.

I’m going to be on the lookout for words such as I can’t, and I shouldn’t and replace them with I can, I will, and I wonder if.

I wonder what it’ll be like to consciously choose to open my mind to limitless possibilities.

If you are wondering the same thing, then watch this space, or join me on my journey. I will be adding regular updates on Facebook and Instagram, but I’ll let you know what my experience was like at the end of the 66 days.

My mantra for the next couple of months is, I don’t know, I’m open, I’m curious, and I’m OK with whatever happens.

Let this new experience begin. #66DaysOfPossibility


Going to the source

As a columnist, I regularly receive emails from readers.

  • Sometimes, they are complimentary.
  • Sometimes, the person just wants to share their own experiences.
  • Other times, the writer wants to set me straight.

I appreciate every person who takes the time to read The Happiness Connection and honour the opinion of every email I receive.

Putting my thoughts into the public realm means I may get some harsh feedback. With that in mind, you may wonder why I write this column.

Taking time to examine our values and beliefs is an important element of growth and self-development. If my words cause you to stop and think about your own point of view or encourage you to see things differently, then I have been successful.

You don’t have to agree with me. If I interrupt your habitual thoughts and beliefs long enough for you to see if you still resonate with them, then my job here is done.

That’s why I write this column.

I recently received an email. I would like to thank the writer for telling me I was wrong in such a respectful way. It is good for my thoughts to be interrupted, too.

“As for most of the articles you write (and specifically the last one), I would have to say you are wrong. We as humans should not "listen to our heart" or "follow your heart,” or “let your inner GPS guide you.” This is a big contributing factor of why the world today is so messed up.

"Following your heart is a pop culture, post modern, millennial myth and mistake that should be forgotten, no ... erased completely.

"Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never meant to be gods in whom we believe, but to believe in God and the Savior, Jesus Christ. “

This is only an excerpt, but it gives a flavour of the contents of the email I am referring to.

If you want more context and you didn’t read my column from July 19, you may want to start there.

I believe that your heart is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with source. There are many ways to define source. It might be God, another divine being, your higher self, or your moral compass.

Listening and following your heart means you are following God, Allah, your higher self, your regular self, or whatever you believe in. It doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want and say your heart told you to do it.

There are many religions and beliefs in the world. I am accepting of them all. You get to choose what you believe guides you, or not.

There isn’t one right belief and a slew of wrong ones. That’s the sort of thinking that landed the world into the state it is now.

If we want to save the Earth, we need to band together as a species and work as one. This is an approach that the millennials have got right. They are probably the most collaborative of all the generations.

The traditional approach hasn’t worked. It is time to do things differently.

Perhaps that’s why I encourage people to make conscious choices for themselves rather than just doing what they believe society, or the neighbours expect them to do.

If you follow the beliefs of anyone other than you, then are you responsible for what happens?

If you check with your inner guidance system before making an empowered choice, you can’t blame it on anyone else. You are responsible for your actions.

Listening to your heart means you are open to accepting your own inner wisdom, regardless of where you believe it comes from.

Perhaps by making choices more consciously and taking personal responsibility for the results, we can work together to fix the mess the world is in.

Interruptions are a gift

When I taught Microsoft Outlook courses, I advised my students to check their email only at specific times.

If it wasn’t one of those times, they should shut their email programs down or at least turn off the notification icons and alerts. 

This doesn’t work for some jobs such as receptionist. But if you have projects to work on or reports to write, this process will provide a major increase in your productivity.

You can lose hours of your workday if your concentration is continually being broken. 

In our world of instant gratification, clients and colleagues tend to want your attention immediately. 

If an email goes unanswered for an hour, you might find another one arriving and then another one, and another one, until they get a response or learn to be patient.

Getting back to people immediately may be great for customer service, but it does little for maximizing your efficiency.

Add to that your natural curiosity. The arrival of a message is likely to draw your mind away from whatever it was doing.

  • Who messaged me?
  • Is it important?
  • Was there an interesting social media post I should know about?

When your flow is interrupted, research shows it takes up to 30 minutes to re-focus. No wonder you can have long days at work when you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything.

Interruptions can cause chaos, especially when there are too many of them. Constantly being pulled away from the job at hand can be exhausting. 

It may feel like all interruptions should be avoided, but that isn’t the case. Interruptions can be a powerful way of shaking you out of a state of autopilot to pull you into awareness. 

Your mind loves efficiency. Why concentrate on how to drive home after work, when you can go into an autopilot state and rest your mind or think of something else. 

Once you start your journey, the rest just happens. I can think of many times when I suddenly realized I didn’t turn where I should have. 

Autopilot kicked in and I stopped being consciously aware of what I was doing. It was taking me home or to the office although I was intending to go somewhere else.

Habits are great, but they have their limitations. Not everything benefits from becoming mindless. 

Sure, it is great not to have to give your attention to brushing your teeth. You’ve done it countess times, but you don’t stop to smell the roses or enjoy life in the moment if you are on autopilot. 

This is where interruptions step into their superpower. They get your attention. Once that is achieved, that power is transferred to you. You get to choose how you want to move forward.

The pandemic is a great example of a global interruption. It shook us out of habitual living. Life as we knew it changed.

Many people I talk to enjoyed some of the resulting changes that COVID has brought. More family time and a slower pace of life are just two examples.

I see major interruptions as gifts. Like being awakened from a deep sleep, your first reaction may be fear, or annoyance, but once you take stock of the situation, you are in a place of power – if you want it. 

  • What do you want to do?
  • How do you want to move forward?
  • What type of experience do you want to have?

Interruption fosters awareness. Awareness encourages choice. Choice lets you step into your power.

It might feel like an annoyance or chaos creator, but interruption can also be a powerful gift.


Let inner GPS guide you

Limit your egg intake to two a week. Eat all the eggs you want.

Tans are healthy. Stay out of the sun.

Children are meant to be seen and not heard. Encourage your children to stand up for themselves.

You are surrounded by gurus, ground-breaking scientific discoveries, and a never-ending stream of advice.

This is one of the reasons there are fad diets, fickle child-rearing approaches, and ever-changing health recommendations.

Who should you listen to?

The simple answer is you.

You have an internal compass that will help you make good decisions — for you. Of course, you need to recognize this system exists before you can take advantage of it.

I should also mention that your GPS is specific to you. Other people have their own compass.

This magical guidance system is created from your values, beliefs, and experiences. You are guided by your integrity.

Listen to the gurus, observe the findings of the most recent scientific studies, and consider the current health fads, but only embrace what feels right for you.

Let me give you an example.

When my children were young, butter had a bad reputation. People were encouraged to substitute margarines. These were touted as having amazing health benefits.

That didn’t feel right to me. How could something that was processed be better than a natural product? I ignored the commonly accepted advice and only bought butter.

I was gratified when research discovered that margarine was high in trans fats and should be avoided. Even if that hadn’t happened, I would have carried on with my choice until it no longer felt right.

It’s easy to ignore your instincts and integrity and give more credibility to what other people say and do. It’s strange how simple it is to believe that others know you better than you do.

Listen to the scientific findings, consider what your family and friends have to say, and then stop to consult your internal compass.

State your options and see which one feels right.

  • I am going to eat butter.
  • I am going to eat margarine.

Feel free to substitute statements that are applicable to you.

Listen to your intuition. Does one feel truer, lighter, or freer for you? If so that’s the one to follow.

The process is easier if you are clear about your beliefs and values. They should be top of mind, not something that needs a long pause of consideration.

This is where personal development plays an important role. Take time to find out what you value and believe. Sometimes values change, so reevaluate annually, or when you experience a major change in your life.

If both statements feel heavy, or light that also gives you good information. Maybe you need to be creative and find a completely different solution as none of the options seem good. It could also suggest that it doesn’t matter which choice you make.

If there is any confusion or indecision, try sleeping on it. I find this an invaluable action when I am struggling with a decision.

If someone advises you to do something that doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That includes any advice I may include in my column. Just because something works for me, that doesn’t guarantee you will have the same result.

Only you truly know what serves you best.

More The Happiness Connection articles

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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