Wednesday, October 10, 2012
"The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who don't is literally the difference between night and day. I'm not talking about a 25 to 50 percent difference in effectiveness; I'm talking about 5000-plus percent difference, particularly if they are smart, aware, and sensitive to others."
-Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
One of my resolutions this month is to be more proactive, less reactive. This means thinking more about what I need, what I want, what I think. And work from there. Instead of primarily responding to external factors, other people's needs, other people's wants and other people's thoughts. Of course this does not mean that I want to be selfish and self-centered...
There was a little story in Covey's book about his daughter who had a birthday party, and didn't want to let the other kids at the party play with her gifts. While the author says he was quite upset about her behavior, he goes on to saying that perhaps she didn't want to share those toys because she hadn't had the opportunity to feel her ownership over them. And how can you share something that is not yours? I've thought about this story a lot, and how I think it relates to people's codependent behavior. Many people are constantly trying to be nice, trying to please others, trying to think about other people's needs and wants, but end up feeling frustrated and unappreciated. But this is the key. To have something to give, to be able to take care of others, we first need to feel the ownership, i.e. feel that we have something to give. We need to take care of ourselves, and then I believe, taking care of others comes very naturally to us. If we are proactive, we will not feel like other people are taking advantage, or that we are doing things just because we think that we should. We will make better decisions about when it is right to accommodate others and when it isn't. And being nice and helpful makes us feel happy, not powerless or depleted.
As with regards to time and schedule, it can be quite easy to fall into reactive mode, when life is busy and there are constant outside demands. Tasks that are urgent, but perhaps not very important for your values or long time goals, can take up most of your time. On the other hand, there are many things that are important to your values, goals and happiness, but are not exactly urgent, and hence sometimes time disappears without you doing a single thing that is REALLY important to you. The happiness project as a whole is to me a tool to deal with that. The resolution charts are making me accountable to myself, in doing things on daily basis that are consistent with my goals and values.
As I have focused on my thoughts, feelings and language in the last few days I have realized that whenever I am feeling frustrated, anxious, stressed, or angry, I am being reactive. I am making myself a victim to circumstances, to the environment and to other people's behavior. To give myself a little pat on the back...I've also realize that I have made an amazing progress in the last few months. While I still have some way to go, I can already see that I am going in the right direction and that I am not nearly as reactive in my thoughts and language as I was just 4 months ago!
I feel like I am taking a big step:) And in the next few weeks, I am going to substitute more of the I should, I must, I have to, I can't, by I can, I will, I prefer, I choose