Remember when as kids we’d check each other’s belly buttons for innies and outies? Great for a laugh at the time, now seems a bit weird? As adults, we’re still innies and outies, but in another way. While all of us are looking for happiness, contentment, success, and no stress, some of us are looking inward and some outward. When we’re looking for our outer conditions to change before we can become happy, we’re often looking to external events and conditions, such as a better job, a more agreeable life partner, more money, less demanding kids. We tend to tell ourselves that when we get this settled, solved, or under control, then we’ll be happy. On the other hand, innies are looking inside themselves to reduce stress, get happy, or feel successful. Those who look inward are looking for the same things as those looking outward, just as at the slumber party we all looked to our belly buttons. Upon examination, we notice different things, just as we notice how differently we expect our lives to be pleasing.
When we’re looking exclusively at our outer circumstances to change in order to be happy, we tend to become anxious, angry, upset, and negative about life in general; because, frankly, things don’t always go our way and, no matter how hard we struggle, we seem to always be stuck feeling empty and alone in our unhappiness. If we’re able to practice even the smallest strategies for looking inside ourselves for happiness, however, we’ll often notice that we’ve opened the door to more than we ever could have expected. The anger and anxiety tend to calm down, we’re less grouchy, and we love our lives more.
Some may observe that the mere changing of one’s attitude isn’t enough. There are times when we need to work at changing our circumstances as well as our inner awareness. An abusive situation, symptoms of mental illess, issues of addiction or medical disorders all demand our attention for remediation. No matter how much we quiet our minds or lift our spirits, these situations and others like them still call for action on our part. Unforeseen crises occur, such as loss of a job, onset of a serious illness, or other tragedy that knocks our lives for a loop. No matter what attitude we have, we’re faced with a major crisis that demands our attention.
Shawn Achor, in his recent book, The Happiness Advantage, suggests that we can choose to be happy and positive. When we do this, we’re looking inward for barriers to contentment, noticing ways that we ourselves can practice positive thoughts and behaviors if we choose to. When we do this, Achor says, we in fact notice that we’re able to solve problems, think of new approaches, and build on successes with new energy. Though it’s not like waving a magic wand and making our problems disappear, it is like opening a door, not only to new ways of looking at things, but in fact, to creative answers to what’s troubling us. I”ve noticed this result in my clients and in myself.
I’m so sure of it, that I can safely say that in the world of happiness innies and outies, I wish more of us could be innies!
If you’d like to talk about your innie/outie dilemma in a coaching relationship–totally objective, confidential, and fun–I can give you an overview of what that would be like in a 30-minute FREE phone call! 563-382-4558; firstname.lastname@example.org.