Talking about happy things: A shift in conversation

Come let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things

How many times have you had a WHOLE conversation where you talked only about happy things? Not many, if you’re anything like me. BUT it’s something I’m making a concerted effort to change.

Talking about happy things doesn’t mean writing off the rants about how you feel unappreciated at work (and your friend checks their watch surreptitiously between “aww” and “uha” and “yeah, that’s totally unfair). What it does mean, is shifting our purpose from seeking validation of our feelings to dealing effectively with our issues. And this validation is normal. But that doesn’t mean it’s good (and some might argue being ‘normal’ is solid ground for being decidedly not good).

I find that sometimes I’ll complain, or rant, and all I really want is the poor-person-who-has-to-put-up-with-me’s approval. That’s not healthy. I know that. But in that moment of anger / frustration / sadness / self-righteousness (or, more likely, all of the above), all I want is validation.

Like the other day, we had a meeting, and with a group of teachers around a table, you KNOW there’s gonna be some power struggles (the teaching profession seems to attract control-freak-types, myself included).

We started talking about the different systems of education and assessment we’ve had in New Zealand over the years (NCEA, School C & Bursary, Cambridge, IB – currently NCEA). Pretty much each person had their own view of what system was ‘right’ (fair enough) and usually it was the system they went through, with a few minor changes (also the case with political voting & parenting style, but that’s a discussion for another day). I found it hard not to put my own two-cents’-worth into the babble, but did hold back somewhat. I even tried to generate discussion about what we can do from here – I mean, we’re stuck with the system we’re stuck with, and wishful thinking isn’t going to help anyone. Especially our students. Which is why we do what we do.

I KNOW I could’ve done more in that meeting, but I am a little bit proud I was able to put an ounce of positivity & proactiveness in 🙂

Anyway, my point is: how much more beneficial would that meeting have been if we had decided to talk about happy things, instead of complaining? What about how great it is that we have such a wide range of experience among us, and we can use that to balance out the limitations of NCEA? Or how fortunate we are to have free resources at our fingertips to learn, teach, and upskill? Or how exciting it is to make a difference to the students who would not realise their potential without us?

Shift your conversation: talk about happy things!

This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Hop

PicMonkey Collage 660Healthy Hop

12 thoughts on “Talking about happy things: A shift in conversation

  1. Hi Zee,
    You post inspires me–and many others, I’m sure! It’s so wonderful to read your positive spin on how to approach the challenges and situations in our lives. My motto is “Put a Smile On It.” I have found that “taking a complex situation to a happy place” can make such a difference in the outcome–as well as how you and everyone around you feels.
    Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring post on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!

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    1. Thanks, Deb! Thanks for your input – it’s great to see so many diverse ways of achieving the same thing: a better world.
      We’re all in this together, right? 🙂

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    1. Hahaha that’s on one of my ‘happy’ playlists 🙂

      Sometimes saying “It’s all attitude,” can sound airy-fairy & cheesy, but you are so right. Talk about it if you need to – but there are limits!

      Thanks for stopping by x

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  2. That is a great thing to strive for in every conversation. How do you shift the person who complains to you? Sometimes people sincerely don’t want to shift their focus away from their struggles. Maybe just provide them with the validation they need?

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        1. Right. So what I was going to say was this:

          I’ve been in that place before, lots, especially in the last couple of years. For me, the fear and negativity was like a comfort blanket – it was as if these things holding me back gave me an excuse to not reach my potential; my anxiety and depression means I’ll never be able to do x or y. This was comforting as it meant I had an excuse (weak though it may be) to not pursue my big dreams, and risk failure. It also prevented me from taking full responsibility for my own situation, because it was ‘out of my control’ (of course, this is not true, but it is how I felt). The biggest factor in changing was seeing it as habits my brain had become used to, not just ‘the way I am’.

          “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson.

          I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people, and while they gave me a certain amount of validation, they would not allow me to fester in the negativity. These are some of the things they did to help me out of that mindset:
          -Talked about their own struggles – as Ian Maclaren said, every [person] is fighting their own battle. Yours are as valid as mine are, and they may even be really similar. In that case, they’d tell me how they deal with it. One friend talked about how she gets rid of nagging worries by picturing it as a bubble, and blowing it into the sky until it was far, far away.
          -Encouraged me to see the situation from the other person’s POV (if there was another person involved).
          -Talked about their future in a positive way. Like, right after a break-up, one friend talked about his dreams and lifetime goals, saying I could contribute to that greatness, and implying that I could even achieve that kind of greatness myself. This made me realise we CAN dream big.
          -Encouraged me to see my own light. Forget the fear – what if it *did* work – how awesome would that be??
          -Told me, quite frankly, “Okay, what can you do about it?” i.e. don’t complain to me if you’re not going to try and fix it!

          The bottom line is to give them some validation, then gently prompt them to look for the solutions, and to let go of their ‘comfort blanket’. Having said that, I have known people like this (I have *been* a person like this) and it can be extremely draining. Talk with them when they need it, let them know you are there for them, but limit your interactions. It sounds airy-fairy, but I also put a circle of protection around my self (I wrote about that here: http://zeesouthcombe.com/2014/01/07/alternative-meditations/) so I don’t get emotionally drained, or fall back into that negative thinking.

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          1. Wow, thank you. You have some great friends! And, I love that quote about us being more afraid of our light than our darkness. Isn’t it strange and sad how we grip our darkness sometimes? I know people that have a hard time letting go of their past and their hurts but I have learned to be quiet rather than try to talk them out of it, which only makes things worse. I sometimes wonder if that is right, but it always leads to a better outcome. Sometimes when people divulge their pains and stressors, they are talking more to themselves than to us and if we are silent and listen while still validating their concerns, the answers present themselves. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post and conversation.xo

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            1. Yup, the bottom line is we can only change when we are ready and able, though others may see a clearer path for us.
              You sound like a caring and patient friend xx

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