The Happiness Connection  

You are the creator

My mom and dad have an amazing neighbour who helps them with all sorts of things. Recently, he pruned the trees and bushes at the back of their house.

The result was a big pile of clippings that needed to be hauled off.

My mom told me about all the work that had been done and how much brighter it was in their house. She also expected the strata’s landscaping company to be a problem.

She anticipated there would be a fight to get them to haul the pile of branches away.

Her comments caught my attention for two reasons.

Setting an intention for what is going to happen, affects the outcome. If you assume something is going to be difficult, or result in a fight, there is a greater chance that it will.

Think about your attitude when you expect to have a problem, versus the times you think everything will happen effortlessly?

Your facial expressions are likely to be different.

Your tone invites the response you expect.

If you want life to be easier and more peaceful, consciously set an intention that everything will go smoothly, rather than with difficulty. Your brain will look for evidence to support your attitude, so choose wisely.

The other thought that came to mind revolves around attachment to outcomes. If I do this, you will react like this.

It exists on the assumption that we know what other people will do in specific situations.

This is what my mother did.

She wanted the clippings to be taken away and decided to put her mental energy into believing it had to be done by the landscape company, and it would require a fight to get them to do it.

If there is one thing I know about people, it is their unpredictability, especially if you don’t know them well.

Set your intention without deciding how everything should unfold. I’ve been working on this skill for the past year, so let me give you an example from my life.

Recently, I made a poor choice for internet security. I realized this quickly and set an intention to recoup my money. The outcome I wanted was to get a refund, but there is no guarantee that will happen.

With an attachment to the result, anything other than getting my money back would trigger negativity. Anger and frustration are both exhausting states to be in, especially for an extended period.

I can’t control what other people do, so I can’t manipulate outcomes that involve others. With a new let’s-see-what-happens approach, I chose an action and then waited to see the response before decided on my next step.

I don’t expect the best or the worst.

I hope to get at least some of my money refunded, but I recognize that might not happen. I’m letting the situation unfold, rather than thinking it’s my way or the highway and I’m trying not to dwell on it.

Does detaching from the outcome mean I want my money back any less?


Will it cause me to put less effort into my actions?


It does, however, save me from settling into a storm of negativity.

I am getting a lot of time to practise detachment. My communication with this company has been going on for almost three months without any resolution.

I’ll keep working on it, but who knows what the result will be.

In my Mom’s case, she could have saved herself a few days of worry if she had detached from believing she knew what the outcome would be.

As it turned out, they took the branches away without any problem.

I’m a fan of not crossing bridges until I need to. I’m learning to accept the possibility that there may be more than one bridge that will get me where I want to go.

You can’t prepare to cross a bridge until you know which one, you’ll be taking. It’s a little like playing chess. You can think about possible moves, but you can’t commit yourself until you see what your opponent does.

  • Set your intention
  • Accept that there is more than one way it can be achieved, or that it may not happen at all.
  • Decide on a first step and do it.
  • Wait to see what the result is before spending more mental energy on your next step.

I have found this practice challenging, but the peace it brings to my life is reward enough to make it a worthwhile struggle.

If you don’t like living in drama, releasing your attachment to specific outcomes could be just what you need to achieve more peace and ease.

As Doris Day sang:

"Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera sera."

See-saw myth shattered

When I was growing up, I knew my parents loved me. It wasn’t because they heaped praise on me.

In fact, about the most glowing comment they gave me, and my siblings was “you’re pretty good kids.”

Why? They were concerned that if they told us we were wonderful, it would swell our heads.

They weren’t alone in their concern of possibly creating arrogant children. There is a common misconception that feeling too much confidence leads to arrogance. It’s as if people see confidence as a teeter-totter.

If one side dips, you are lacking confidence.

If the other side drops, you are on the path to becoming overly confident and arrogant.

The goal is to stay balanced in the middle. That sounds exhausting.

I am here to bust this see-saw myth.

Confidence: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something, firm trust. — Oxford Dictionaries

Arrogance: proud in an unpleasant way and behaving as if you are better or more important than other people. — Cambridge English Dictionary

At first glance, it is easy to see how people believe arrogance is related to confidence. But there is a fundamental difference that means they are kissing cousins at best.

Confidence is an inside job. It is how you feel about yourself and your environment. It is your level of trust in your own abilities and the things you choose to believe in.

Arrogance is an outside job. It involves comparing yourself to other people and believing you are better and more important.

You can be arrogant with a medium amount of confidence. I suspect you can be arrogant with low confidence if you adopt the fake it ‘til you make it philosophy.

You can also be off the charts confident and extremely kind and humble.

Is it possible to believe in and trust yourself too much? I don’t think so. Confidence may enable arrogance and risky decisions, but it isn’t the cause.

It’s like a flower bed that is over-run with weeds. You made a beautiful space for your roses, that is also desirable for those unwanted plants.

But did the flowers cause the weeds to appear? Should you stop creating flower beds to prevent weeds?

With great power comes great responsibility.

At the same time as you boost your confidence, learn to embrace a growth mindset. Your journey is yours alone. You aren’t here to compete with the rest of the world.

Life is about being the best you, not being better than everyone else.

Most things have both light and shadow sides. Exposure to the sun can make you feel good, but it also causes skin cancer.

The bright side of confidence involves using your belief and trust to increase your personal success, and the success of others.

The shadow side uses that belief to compete against others and do whatever it takes to make sure you come out on top. This is typical of a fixed mindset.

If arrogance begins to creep in, the person involved has begun a competition where they get to be both competitor and judge.

Foster the confidence of yourself, your family, colleagues, and friends, but remember life is a very personal and individual journey.

Feel free to heap on praise when it is due without worrying that you may be encouraging someone to be overly confident. In my mind there is no such thing.

It isn’t confidence that causes arrogance, it is the need to be better than others. Any super-power can be used for good or for evil.

The choice is yours.

Confidence has nothing to do with pretending you are better than you are or comparing your worth to someone else’s. It is strictly an inside job.

Let August challenge you

The summer is only half over, and yet back-to-school ads are everywhere.

I’m not sure if it’s from my years as a teacher, or because I went to nine different schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 ,but I am sensitive to every mention of school during August.

Some students will be eagerly awaiting the new year. Others will be dreading it.

Usually, I advise students to do their best to ignore these advertisements, especially if they are apprehensive about the coming school year. There is no need to suffer by worrying about something that is still a month away.

But this year, I have a new suggestion to add to that advice.

Although you may not think about it very often, you are a survivor. That is your primary drive. Remind yourself how resilient you are by stepping into the unknown as many times as possible this month.

This advice is good for everyone, regardless of how you feel about September. It is easy to sink into the familiar and comfortable.

Consciously trying something new has another advantage. It gives you the perfect opportunity for self-discovery. If you want to build your confidence, the first step is to know who you are — really.

It’s easy to become the person you think your parents, partner, or society wants you to be. Is that the same person as the authentic you?

With survival and self-discovery in mind, I have challenged myself to do something every day in August that is new, or that I haven’t done in a long time.

If you read my column from July 21, you might remember that I discovered I don’t hate milk products as much as I thought I did. I have gone decades refusing lattes, only to discover how tasty they are.

One of my challenges this month is going to involve drinking milk. It doesn’t matter whether I still hate the taste of it when it is served in a tall, frosty glass. It is trying something new, or unfamiliar that is the important step.

If you or anyone in your family is feeling apprehensive about September, or you want to build your confidence, why not start your own challenge?

It doesn’t have to be something new every day. You could choose to do six things in total, or two things every week.

Create a something that will take energy, but that doesn’t overwhelm you. The secret is to find the balance between challenge and completion. Both are necessary.

The activities you choose depend on what you find challenging, or the beliefs you have about yourself.

Try foods and beverages that are new, or that you haven’t tasted in decades because you believe you don’t like them.

  • Go to a new activity such as dancing or kickboxing.
  • Change your look with a new hair style, or fashion.
  • Hang your car keys up for a few days and take the bus, your bicycle, or walk.
  • Go to dinner or a movie by yourself.

I am on day three and I have already had some self-realization. Many of the activities I am considering for this month are helping me learn about myself, but they aren’t really supporting my survival ability.

The thing that is challenging me, is the challenge itself.

Thirty-one days of finding something new or revisiting an old belief and then sharing it on social media, is a big undertaking for me. The little devil in my head has already suggested that I could change my mind and let the whole thing die.

No harm, no foul.

But that would do nothing to show me I can do anything I set my mind to. The challenge is on.

If you want to see how I am making out, like my Facebook page or go to my website to sign up for my newsletter.

Rather than spending this month, dreading next month, do something to build your self-confidence. New experiences will give you new wisdom and new confidence.

Thinking about the past

I’ve found myself being introspective this week.

  • What have been my greatest challenges?
  • What have they taught me?
  • What do I still want to accomplish?

Perhaps the timing comes from my years of teaching where September represented the new year more than January did.

The question that has captivated me the most is: what do I wish I had learned earlier in my life?

That’s a good thing for everyone to consider, and I encourage you to take a moment to come up with your own answer.

We can’t change our past, but that isn’t the point of this exercise. This question allows your brain the opportunity to dig a little deeper so your conscious thought can understand you a little bit better.

When I began this process, a few answers sprang to mind.

Instead of criticizing the way I looked, I would have loved to have developed an appreciation for my body earlier.

Perhaps understanding how resilient I was, or not believing my sole purpose was to be the person everyone else thought I should be.

As I examined each idea that bubbled up, I realized they were all leading to the same answer. I wish I had learned self-confidence a few decades earlier.

For many years, I resembled a chameleon. I morphed into a version of me that fit the environment I was in and who I was with. Many people considered me shy, but I wasn’t. When I was around those people, I had chosen to be an invisible chameleon.

I was insecure about letting people see me in case they didn’t like what they saw. Maybe this is the real definition of being shy.

I am not unique. In fact, I am a common-variety human.

I meet people every day who suffer from a lack of self-confidence. How many people do you know who don’t feel they measure up to what is expected of them?

Perhaps you are one of us, too.

The first step to increasing your confidence is to take a closer look at who you are. Not who you want to be, or who you think you should be, but dig down to find your authentic self.

No one knows you better than you know yourself, but that doesn’t carry a guarantee that the person you think you are is really you. Perhaps nobody knows the real you.

In last week’s column, I talked about the importance of revisiting things we believe about ourselves. They may no longer be true. Maybe they were never true. You may have become the person you felt you were expected to be and hidden the real you.

Exposing your authentic self can be challenging if you subconsciously believe that being perfect is the level you need to attain. You may resist seeing your warts.

An activity I remember from junior high involved us looking into a mirror so we could see the shape of our face. I decided the perfect shape was oval and because in my mind it was important to be perfect, that was what I saw.

My face is far from oval. It is round. Although I was tall and slender — this was the age of Twiggy — I associated round faces with being overweight. I couldn’t possibly have a round face. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to admit my face was round and not feel ashamed of that fact.

Self-confidence isn’t about hoping people will like your face, it is about loving what you look like, and not caring if others agree with you or not.

Owning at all the aspects of your personality, values, beliefs, physical abilities and attributes, is the first thing to work on if you want to increase your confidence in you.

Take special care to examine your guilty pleasures like the occasional pop and binge-watching Netflix.

It’s the things you are afraid to admit to that you really need to expose to yourself.

Once you can see yourself authentically, the next step is to accept those things without judgment.

I tend to only see the good things about myself. I sweep all the undesirable stuff under life’s carpet. If I don’t dwell on the negative, it will disappear. I do this so well that it is like those events never happened.

This is a useful skill in some ways but doesn’t do anything to build self-confidence. If you don’t acknowledge the tricky experiences and challenges, how do you know that you are resilient?

If you have a temper, admit that. Own it. Work to lessen its grip on your life, but don’t pretend it doesn’t exist because you want to be perfect.

Flaws and imperfections are what give things character. They make you unique.

The last step in building self-confidence is learning to love your authentic self, warts and all. I know from experience that this is the most challenging stage.

Being able to stand naked in front of a mirror, or your partner and not feel negative emotions about your extra pounds, less than ideal stomach, or other perceived imperfections, is tough.

Being with a group of your peers and voicing your opinion, even if it’s an unpopular one, takes strength.

Remember, self-confidence isn’t about wanting everyone to like you and agree with you.

It’s about liking yourself, and believing you are speaking your truth. It’s OK if other people don’t agree.

You are enough for yourself.

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.

Previous Stories