The Happiness Connection  

Have a Plan B

As I write this, I am sitting on a bench in St. James’s Park in London, enjoying one of the most intense heat waves on record in Britain.

I’m enjoying it because I am in the shade relishing the early evening breeze.

In Kelowna, 30 degree temperatures aren’t unusual or extreme, but in the U.K. it is something of a rarity. Newspaper headlines talk about heat related deaths and how to prevent them.

If I hadn’t lived here for the best part of 20 years, I might be rolling my eyes at the absurdity of it all. The opposite weather extreme is also a problem here. A skiff of snow causes the entire country to come to a skidding halt.

Britain isn’t prepared for extreme temperatures, or unusual weather conditions. Few places have air conditioning and even fewer keep snow shovels on hand.

The elderly and physically weak die every time extreme temperatures occur.

When I lived here, I bought a fan for every bedroom the first time I heard a forecast for warmer than normal temperatures. I need cool air to sleep and more importantly, I wanted my young children to sleep well.

Most parents will understand the importance of having well-rested offspring.

Not everyone adopts the same philosophy I did. Some waited until the hot weather arrived, and cooling fans were like gold dust. As soon as the crisis was over, thoughts of fans vanished from their thoughts until the next time the temperatures soared.

The British heat wave mirrors the way many people cope with unexpected situations in their lives. Some people are prepared, while others wait until the event occurs before they give it any thought.

A sudden job loss, death of a loved one, or unexpected end of a romantic relationship can leave you reeling. One day you feel happy and stable, and the next you feel battered and bruised believing you have hit rock bottom.

Is there any way to minimize or prepare yourself for an unexpected, negative event? I believe there is.

  • Don’t rely on other people to make you happy or to be your foundation. Enjoy all the people in your life, but don’t give your personal power to another person.

If you expect someone else to make you happy, you will be waving goodbye to both them and your happiness if they leave for whatever reason. Make sure you continue to have your own friends, hobbies, and goals.

  • Stay in the loop of every area of your life. Don’t leave the finances, family responsibilities, or home maintenance to your partner.

You don’t have to physically pay the bills, but know what needs to be paid and how much money is coming into your bank. Make sure you could jump in and maintain family life and schedules if you needed to. Enjoy your partner’s cooking, but make sure you know how to prepare basic meals.

  • Have a Plan B. I’m not suggesting that you put a divorce plan together when you are happily married, but consider how you would survive if you were no longer with your spouse for whatever reason.

This might involve keeping up to date with your chosen career. You may not want work to be your major focus, but working one day a week, or being on call to help at peak seasons or to cover for others, puts you in a good position to return to work if the need or desire arises.

There are people who will read this and think this attitude means you don’t believe your marriage will last, or that you aren’t a romantic. Let me assure you this is not the case.

Knowing that you are prepared and capable of carrying on if you should find yourself divorced or widowed will empower you by reducing your fear. Think of it as carrying a bottle of water with you on a walk. You’ve got it, but you don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to.

Perhaps this topic is in my mind because my father is in the hospital waiting for a serious operation. At 90, chances are good that he won’t survive it. My mother is faced with the possibility of being on her own after almost 65 years of marriage.

She will have support to help her, but it made me think about how prepared I would be if I suddenly found myself living alone. Am I ready, or will I be like Londoners in a snowstorm or heat wave?

I think it is easier for people of my generation and younger as we have worked and generally share responsibilities with our spouses.

I can remember the first meeting with my husband’s financial adviser when we got married. I wanted to know why everything was being put into my husband’s name and not mine or jointly. Contrary to his belief, I was not planning on ending the marriage. I was staying mindful of the fact that unfortunate things can happen.

Believing you will be with your partner forever does not mean you should be unprepared for disaster.

I believe the foundation to living a happy life comes with personal power knowing you can survive whatever life throws at you.

The strongest relationships are formed by those who choose to be together rather than believing they have no choice but to be together.

Are you ready for the next proverbial heat wave or snow storm in your life?

You don’t need to invest in a snow plough, but a shovel tucked into your garage might make all the difference when the unforeseen happens.

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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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