Your COVID-19 Story

We change our lives, for the good or not, in the direction of our self-talk, our story.

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“Change your story, change your power,” according to positive psychology author Michelle Gielan who wrote” Broadcasting Happiness.” Sort of reminds me of my most recent book, “The Link is What You Think.” We change our lives, for the good or not, in the direction of our self-talk, our story. Our families, our companies, our neighbors, all benefit, or are harmed, by the stories we tell ourselves about the circumstances of our lives. We are all story tellers, to ourselves and to each other, and with that comes a great deal of accountability and answerability. 

Want to move forward, onward, upward? Be sure the story you propagate is one of positivity. If what you are publicizing is negativity, obstacles, hurdles, the sense that nothing is going well for you, you’re surely moving in damaging direction.

Those booming with a “regardless, I’m happy” mind-incline during COVID-19, focus on times when they’re at their best, attend to their strengths, and center on the best parts of each day. The crowd that’s blossoming doesn’t ignore the grave circumstances this pandemic has brought on, aren’t pretending all is well, but instead they welcome reality while clutching to their optimistic vistas and in so doing,  boost and magnify positive progress all around them. They hold to the belief, “My happiness is up to me, so coronavirus, you’re off the hook!”

Indeed, Byron Katie, in “Loving What Is,” observed, “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When mind is perfectly clear, what is, is what we want. I realized that it’s insane to oppose it. When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100% of the time.” 

When it comes to accepting the reality of life, we’d be wise to eliminate what Katie refers to as the single theme of every story: “This shouldn’t be happening. I shouldn’t be having this experience. God is unjust. Life isn’t fair.” Inside every negative story we tell ourselves lies a magnified misperception in our contemplation of what’s going outside of ourselves. Yes, it takes self-awareness, what Daniel Goleman described in his 1997 work, “Emotional Intelligence,” “a neutral mode that maintains self-reflectiveness even amidst turbulent emotions.” But as he reminds us, “There was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one.”

Here are some steps to help challenge the story you’ve created that’s leading you astray emotionally, from living that “regardless happier” goal. Sonia Lyubormirsky in “The How of Happiness” guides us:

1. Write down your “barrier thoughts” the story that’s in your way that you are believing, and consider ways to reinterpret the situation

2. Ask yourself, “What else could this experience mean?”
3. Wonder if anything good can come from it

4. Explore in your mind whether the situation, COVID-19 for example, presents any opportunities for you

5. Answer this question: “What lessons can I learn and apply to the future?”

6. Review how you are dealing with the situation and see if you’ve developed any strengths as a result.

We all need a strategy to “change your story to change your power.” Perhaps the founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, had the best strategy. He said, “Yes, we have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things.’” 

Here’s something to do, from Martin E.P. Seligman’s famous work, “Flourish.” Every night for a week, spend ten minutes or so thinking about three things that went well that day, and why it went well. That’s it. Nothing earth shattering, nothing of major importance. What went well, and next to it, why it went well. After a week, Seligman tells us, you’ll feel less depressed, happier, and your story will change. That’s the key to flourishing, to disturbing yourself less, and to living happier. Changing your story. Now, just do it.

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