My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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Under-React to a Problem.

Eggsincarton

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

I have hundreds of resolutions for my happiness project, and I love hearing other people’s ideas for resolutions — which is one reason I’m addicted to checking out the Happiness Project Toolbox. I’ve adopted several resolutions that I’ve read there, including one of my new favorites: “Choose the bigger life.”

Another great new resolution was suggested to me by a reader who’s blogging about her experience on a ship doing research in Antarctica. Their research leader urged them to “Under-react to problems.” Note that this resolution doesn’t suggest ignoring or minimizing problems – just under-reacting to them.

I had reason to think about this resolution a few nights ago. I confronted a problem, and I reacted in a big way. I wouldn’t say that I over-reacted, but I definitely reacted a lot. And even in the moment, it was clear to me that having a violent reaction wasn’t helping – me or anyone else involved.

So I took a deep breath and calmed myself. I acted the way I wanted to feel. I tried to under-react. And I felt better, and the problem suddenly seemed less onerous.

This frame of mind helps me stay calm, keep a sense of humor, and keep a sense of proportion. I associate this phlegmatic sensibility with the British, as when Winston Churchill remarked, after being asked about possible invasion: “My technical advisers were of opinion that the best method of dealing with invasion of the island of Britain was to drown as many as possible on the way over and knock the others on the head as they crawled ashore.”

I mentioned this resolution to a friend, and he said he’d just “under-reacted to a problem” himself. He’d needed a new kind of special camera for his home-office computer, and when he went to buy it, he discovered that it cost about twice as much as he’d intended to spend. He said he stood in the aisle and deliberately forced himself to stay calm, to debate whether he really needed the camera, and not to let himself get worked up with annoyance.

A big birthday. Late work reports. Mislaid homework. Stolen parking spots. Life is full of opportunities for under-reaction – or over-reaction.

Do you think it helps to under-react to a problem?

* 2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year, this month’s focus is Energy. Last week’s resolution was to Toss and organize. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Tackle a nagging task.

(I had to re-load the video, because there was a mistake in the title card — so to the 2,800 of you who saw the wrong version, it’s now fixed!)

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Need a simple and effective way to get your life under control? Try the one-minute rule.
2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

* I was thrilled to be included in Gimundo’s list of