I talked a little bit yesterday about changing your perspective, and the steps of behaviour change.
If you use those steps, you can change any behaviour. You just need to make sure you stick with it, which usually means having a really good reason to change (step 2).
For the sake of increasing your laughter, what I would like to talk about more in depth today is the first step – Identify and acknowledge the existing behaviour.
This seems fairly simple, but the reason why most people don’t change lays in this first step.
Assuming that a person knows that “something” is wrong in their lives (for our usage lets say that they have a general feeling that they aren’t happy, and they aren’t laughing as much as they used to) they may never identify any specific behaviours that are making them unhappy.
In the example I gave for myself yesterday, it was getting angry at crazy drivers. Someone else might still be getting themselves all worked up and upset over the crazy drivers out there, and when they get home they wonder why they aren’t in a great mood.
Here’s why people don’t see the behaviours that aren’t working for them: normalcy. They think it’s normal to get upset at crazy drivers, that everyone else does it, they don’t see that this is a specific changeable behaviour. They go through there lives thinking that they are doing everything like most other people and don’t even consider the possibility that all of their “normal” behaviours are making them more and more unhappy.
Usually it takes someone outside of ourselves to identify behaviours that aren’t working for us. Someone in the car that says, “wow you seem to get really upset when someone cuts you off”. Then our usual response is something like “of course I get upset, don’t you?”. And if they come back with “No, it doesn’t really bother me”, then we might start to see and realize that not everyone gets upset at bad drivers, and maybe – just perhaps – we don’t have to either.
But there is another reason why people don’t get past the first step even if they identify a behaviour that isn’t working for them (isn’t making them happy). They have to acknowledge the behaviour.
It’s one thing to identify that “yes I get angry at bad drivers”, it’s quite another to say “me getting angry at bad drivers is not working for me, it’s not making me happy”. Why is this? Dr Phil knows.
Take it away Dr. Phil: (Texan twang begins here) people do what works. No one does anything without some sort of pay off (end twang).
Getting upset at drivers, shouting at them even though they can’t hear it, giving obscene gestures or hitting the steering wheel, perhaps we like doing this. Perhaps it gives us an outlet to vent our frustrations over other things in a “safe” environment where we know no one can really hear us or see us. I don’t know what the pay-offs are for everyone, but you’ve got one.
Acknowledging what we are doing means seeing the pay-offs we get for that behaviour.
The other reason why most people don’t like acknowledging their behaviour is because it is at this stage that you finally have to take responsibility and own up to it. “Yes, this is something I do”. “Yes, this doesn’t make me happy”. When we were blissfully unaware previously, we could say that it was the world that was making us unhappy. Now we come face to face with the fact that it is and always has been US that are making us unhappy. Most people do not like to acknowledge that they are responsible for their own unhappiness.
Yet this is exactly what you have to do to start taking control of your own happiness and laughing more in your life.
OK sorry for the preachy long winded post. I shall leave you again with something light and fun.
One day while driving I was telling my wife about something that annoyed me. I can’t remember what the issue was but it must have flustered me so much that I finished up with a combination of the phrases “it drives me crazy” and “it annoys the hell out of me”. Which means I pronounced very loudly: “It drives the hell out of me!” I thought about that for a moment, then laughed for a long time, because really, something that drives the hell out of you, can’t really be all that bad.