What’s Your Interpretation Style?
Lasts month’s blog post I shared the number one predictor of happiness…the quality of our social relationships. Positive relationships, ones that inspire, support, and challenge us to be the best version of ourselves proves to be the most significant factor that keeps us happier and yes even healthier. So what’s the second most powerful predictor of happiness… anyone care to guess? Well, research proves it’s a matter of one’s “interpretation style” (hopeful vs.hopeless). In other words, those people who experience greater happiness are those who understand that their feelings/emotions are not permanent nor pervasive rather specific to an experience and only temporary. I’ve written on this topic in some shape or form in past blog posts, emotions are not directives, they are merely just data. While feeling sad, angry, fearful, frustrated, etc is inarguably uncomfortable and unpleasant to say the least, they too are just as much apart of the human experience as joy, peace, love, pride, satisfaction, enthusiasm, etc. Happy people give themselves permission to be human and cultivate a way of life (aka an interpretation style) that helps restore wellbeing when challenged and delight in moments of happiness.
So with all that being said how does one cultivate an “interpretation style” that is more opportunistic and optimistic rather then pessimistic and disadvantageous. Truth to be told, the list is endless but for the sake of this blog post I want to highlight 3 key practices I share with clients and personally use to embrace a more straightforward approach to fostering an inspiring “interpretation style”.
How to Guide on Cultivating a Hopeful Interpretation Style:
Step 1: Practice Acceptance – Don’t fall into the trap of the Great Deception, that is, a happy life is a life devoid of unpleasant feelings. Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not an absence of problems/challenges, that just doesn’t exist for anyone. No one is excused from life’s ups and downs. First and foremost, we must give ourselves the permission to be human and avoid judging, fighting, and sugar-coating any uncomfortable emotions we may be feeling. Understand, permitting ourselves to be human is not about resignation but rather active acceptance where we can step back, sit in the discomfort of unpleasant feelings in order to educate ourselves how to best move forward in the most appropriate, proactive, and supportive way.
Step 2: Evaluate – What can be contributing to the way we are feeling? Is it something related to a physical component of our lives like lack of sleep, nutrition, exercise, a chronic or temporary health condition? Possibly relationally related, maybe you’re not feeling connected to those near and dear to you? Or are you feeling dissatisfied with your development, personally and/or professionally? What may you be magnifying, getting stuck on and not seeing the bigger picture of, or possibly misinterpreting.
Step 3: Restore Rational Thinking – Study after study has proven that our thoughts determine how we feel which then in turn impacts how we behave. Having “go to” practices and strategies to help us cope and recover in challenging times promotes an “interpretation style” that is supportive. Now, this is where it becomes highly personal but based on the insights we get from step #2 along with appropriate expression of feelings, establishing a best way to recover from challenging experiences so we can restore rational thinking will organically happen. This may include anything from getting feedback from others, reframing the situation to see it in a more positive light, mediating/journaling/exercising to help decompress and gain perspective, identifying three things in your day you are grateful for to shift mindset away from the negativity bias, embracing failure so we can get back on the horse (so to say) and realign with what we want in and for our lives, or even simply getting outside and connecting with nature can be just enough for many to boost their moods promoting a more solution based mindset.
This list can go on and on and for those of you interested in learning more about promoting a most advantageous mindset, do not hesitate to reach out! Success and happiness are not reserved for the lucky but rather to those who are committed to its process.
Wishing You Always The Best Of Success!