It's easy enough to be happy, peaceful and positive, right? No, I'm serious. It's easy enough to be happy, peaceful and positive - when you remember to be. But we don't always get to remember.
Take this morning. I went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. I turned on the tap and blam! I had knocked a filter jug full of water off the worktop. Right onto the floor. Oh man! Now, I knew who had left it there. I knew that it was far too near the edge of the worktop for safety, and I knew that they always do that and that it was an accident waiting to happen and that - But hang on a moment, I interrupted my usual reaction when accidents happen - finding someone to blame - did anyone actually die here? Another part of my self had jumped in.
I'd like to call it my 'sane self'. How would I feel about this tomorrow? Actually I probably wouldn't even remember the event. Maybe I'd be a little careful next time even. Maybe I could actually even learn something from this. Now I knew where the first way of dealing with it would lead.
I'd make a mental note to bring this up with my partner tonight. 'By the way, don't leave things right at the front of the worktop.' Actually that was the best I could hope for, quite possibly I'd already be irritated by something else and 'How many times have I asked you not to -' might well be the first thing my loved one heard when she came through the door. Cue another 'interesting' evening. Luckily for me I remembered to jump in. I remembered that my reaction to events causes my feelings, my relationships and my happiness.
I remembered that I make my own happiness. So I went through a quick checklist: 1 Did anyone actually die here? If not, breathe. Now. 2 Was anyone injured? If so find the best way to help.
Now. 3 Did anything get broken? If so clean it up. Decide if you need to get a new one. 4 Does anything need cleaning up? If so, clean it up. Now.
5 Anything else? If not, carry on with your day. Forget about it. Let it go. See how that checklist takes me out of the 'find someone else to blame' reaction and instantly gives me something to do, as well as helping me get a little perspective.
It seems to be the perspective that we lose when unexpected things happen. When we're in the heat of the moment quite simply, we 'get carried away'. We see red, get mad, lose control, or a hundred-and-one other ways of simply denying responsibility. So the next time that you knock the milk jug over try my 'did anyone die' checklist.
You never know, it might just work for you too. Remember to let your sane, reasoned self jump in. It might take a bit of practice, and maybe you need to make your own checklist, but I'm pretty sure it can work for you too.
And you might find that your reactions to life's events cause your own reality. And that's a very liberating thing.
Colin Bradhsaw-Jones is the author of Ask to Relax, a simple, effective and empowering technique to reduce stress, control negative emotions and create positive states of mind. The technique can be learnt simply and quickly. Anyone interested can receive a free lesson at the website: asktorelax.com