The Happiness Connection  

Ways to avoid jumping to conclusions

Danger of snap decisions

Having been invited to a family dinner on Easter Sunday, I decided to buy tulips for a hostess gift.

My partner suggested I also buy some for our house. I chose three different colours, thinking we could give two bunches away and have the other one for ourselves.

David thought combining all three colours would be better. He created a bunch to take with us and left the rest to be arranged later.

The next day, I went for a walk while he went to visit his mom. I hadn’t given the flowers much thought, but when I got home, I noticed they’d disappeared.

I knew David wanted to give some to his mom, but surely not all of them. That didn’t seem fair. Didn’t I deserve some cheery blooms, too? In a very short time, I went from feeling happy to a state of agitation.

That may seem like a silly story, but often it’s the little things that trigger us and send us into a negative spin. Frequently that happens because our brains gather information and then jump to a conclusion that may or may not be true.

As is often the case with ours brain, that behaviour has evolutionary origins. In primitive times, taking too long to identify threats could end your life. Today that outdated programming can lead to incorrect conclusions and poor decision-making.

That is where self-awareness becomes an asset. When I noticed my negative emotions, I wondered whether they might be the result of an incorrect conclusion. That awareness is all you need to slow or stop the spin.

So, what do you do if you think you may have joined the dots incorrectly? Here are a few strategies.

• Slow down your brain to avoid making a snap decision. I took a couple of deep breaths.

• Actively look for information that disproves your initial conclusion. I looked around the house in case they’d been placed in a different room. There was no sign of them.

• Consider other possible explanations. I reminded myself that just because I couldn’t see them didn’t mean they were gone. I couldn’t think of another scenario, but I was willing to accept there might be one.

• Ask yourself whether your conclusion fits with what you know about the person or people involved in the situation. David isn’t naturally thoughtless or uncaring. I knew if he’d taken all the flowers to his mom, he must have felt she needed them more than we did.

• Keep things in perspective rather than overreacting. I reminded myself that I was getting annoyed about something that didn’t deserve that much of my focus and energy. I could always buy more if I wanted to.

These thoughts restored my balance and calm.

When David got home, he immediately brought up the subject by apologizing for forgetting our share of the tulips at his mom’s place. He’d taken all of them so she could help arrange them into two bouquets.

I was grateful for his explanation, but I’d reached a place where it didn’t matter what had happened to them. They’d provided me with an opportunity to practice a happiness skill and I was grateful for that.

Understanding that the conclusions your brain arrives at aren’t always true is an important realization when it comes to happiness. Training yourself to question conclusions before embracing them can help your life be more peaceful and your relationships less tumultuous.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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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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