Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) learned a lot about happiness in Eat Pray Love
Changing our lives is all the rage right now.
Looking back on history, it used to be that we couldn’t actually change much about our circumstances. Relationships were arranged for us. Socioeconomic status was predestined. We knew the cards we were dealt and we knew we had little choice but to make the best of them.
It’s easy to feel badly for those who endured such times and many of us thank goodness things have changed. But I think we underestimate the extent to which we’re just as, if not more, trapped in unhappiness nowadays as we imagine people must have been back in the old days.
Think about it: Many of us weren’t exactly taught to make the most of what we have. Unlike our ancestors, the common narrative of our culture today is that everyone has the power to create something better.
And because we’ve been trained to incessantly grasp for something better, we haven’t mastered the art of turning what we already have into gold.
Some happy people swear by mediation to improve their mood. Here’s an easy how-to. (Post continues after video.)
In other words, we aren’t alchemists. We don’t know how to take uninspiring material and transform it into something valuable and beautiful. When we spend our lives striving for more, we don’t learn the basic skill of appreciating what we have. When we live this way, happiness always lies in the future and we are always waiting for it to be delivered through external means.
But what about the happiness that’s available to us from within, right now?
I’m a coach. My job is to have conversations with people that lead to positive changes in their lives. When I tell people what I do, the majority assume this means I’m good at finding solutions to people’s problems. They think maybe I have some of the answers they’ve been looking for. They tell me what they’re up against and expect our conversation to be a strategy session of sorts.
But it’s not. About 95 per cent of what I’m actually doing in those conversations is getting my clients to look at what they can change in themselves in order to have a different experience than the one that’s making them unhappy. My aim is to have them stop arguing with things that have already happened, things outside themselves that they can’t change, and instead to identify what they actually do have the power to change (which usually starts with them). (Post continues after gallery.)