Laurie Gerber, president of Handel Group Life Coaching (www.HandelGroup.com), used to be a chronic complainer. When her husband finally said, “Stop!” she made him a promise that went far beyond not complaining. Her promise, which has influenced her personally and professionally, was to be happy with her life.
“Growing up means making your happiness your problem to solve,” Gerber observes. Instead of expecting others to please her or playing the victim so that she could control or blame other people, she realized that she had to work at pleasing herself. How Gerber did it—and what anyone can do…
You are not allowed to be grumpy, bored or otherwise displeased. “It’s not about subjugating your feelings,” Gerber says. “It’s about moving from feeling to doing.” You can mutter all day about how tired you feel—or you can go for a walk, stop using the computer at night (so you’ll sleep better) or have your diet evaluated to see what may give you more energy.
Figure out what you would need to do to avoid being displeased. What different choices would you make? Socialize more on the weekend? Set aside time to listen to music or explore the outdoors? Meditate daily? Be more honest with people? What would you ask for from your spouse, children or people at work?
Among the needs that Gerber identified for herself—more eye contact from her husband… end-of-day reports from her staff… getting seven hours of sleep a night.
Important: Make clear requests rather than expecting others to figure out what you want. Don’t chicken out of politely telling people what you wish they had done differently.
Give yourself negative consequences when you become displeased. This is a classic Handel Group technique that we’ve written about before in our publications. Choose consequences that annoy you enough to push you in the right direction. If Gerber is rude to a colleague because she is in a hurry, she writes him/her a poem (an annoyance because it takes time and thought). At home, her consequence is emptying the dishwasher—something that other family members usually do because she hates it so much.
When Gerber succeeds at being pleased, no artificial rewards are necessary. The benefits from better relationships, more confidence and more peace of mind are a natural outcome and rewarding enough.