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The Happiness Connection  

One barrel at a time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

If you’re a fan of the IIHF world junior hockey championship, you’ll understand that the above statement isn’t a reference to Christmas.

It’s the song played to announce the pending start of the amazing tournament we look forward to every December.

This year, the final was between Canada and the United States. The American took home gold.

As they got ready to take their championship team photo, a blue barrel with the Canadian team logo taped to it, was pushed onto the ice and into the shot. This simple act sparked speculation and controversy.

These barrels are used as garbage cans, so it isn’t a stretch to interpret this as an insult to the Canadian team. Without any other information, many observers jumped to this conclusion.

The Americans had an explanation that was quite different.

During the tournament, they used the barrels as a metaphor for taking the championship one game at a time.

It came from a story about crossing the Sahara. A barrel was placed at the end of each stage of the trek. Instead of seeing the enormity of 500 miles of heat and sand, they took it one barrel at a time.

This is how the coaching staff counselled the team to see the tournament. Rather than thinking about taking home gold, they should only concentrate on the next game.

Yes, I’m sure there was also some jokes about trashing the next team they faced, but that isn’t something to take offence from.

There is always more than one way to interpret anything you see or hear. You can believe someone acted with malevolence, or you can consider their motivations to be kinder.

In my experience, it’s hard to establish truth at the best of times, because there’s more than one reality, depending on who you talk to.

Ask yourself which option makes you feel a greater level of peace?

  • The Americans were being arrogant and rude.
  • The Americans were marking the philosophy they had embraced throughout the tournament.
  • I don’t care.

Release the need for there to be one right answer and for it to the one you choose to believe. Each person gets to make their own choice.

Being annoyed, angry, or hurt are all negative emotions. When you experience them, your body is experiencing the fight/flight/freeze response. You’re preparing yourself for survival.

This is useful, when a foe presents itself, but not when the enemy is imagined.

Your initial reaction to anything may be negative, but you have free will. You can stop and reassess.

  • Take a breath.
  • Recognize how you’re feeling.
  • Thank your negative emotions for showing up to support you but tell them you don’t need them just now.
  • Release them.
  • Take a few more deep breaths.
  • When you feel more positive, look at the situation again.
  • Choose whatever belief makes you feel the greatest sense of peace.

Does it make you feel better to believe that someone was deliberately trying to hurt you, or that their actions were innocent although possibly misguided?

I know it may take some people time to adjust to this way of approaching life. You may be so used to your negative emotions that they feel comfy and familiar. But that doesn’t mean they are good for you.

There are times when you need to stand up and prepare for battle, but the necessity to do that presents itself less often than you might think.

You get to choose whether you want to feel positive or negative.

If your interpretation of what you see or hear gives you a sense of peace, it’s aiding your well-being. If it makes you feel agitated and annoyed, it isn’t. Stop to examine your emotions and then make a conscious choice about how you want to feel.

Were the Americans thinking about barrels and the Sahara Desert when they included the container in their team photo, or were they saying our team was trash?

I don’t know, but I’m happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.



More The Happiness Connection articles

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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



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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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