One simple experiment for a happier life

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better
— Ralph Waldo Emerson; essayist, lecturer, poet

Hello. How are you? Tell me. I'd love to know.  I'd love to know what's going on in your world. What's exciting you and what's challenging you. What are you doing to make life better?

I've just spent a long weekend at the ProBlogger Training Event and I'm buzzing with ideas and excitement. There's nothing like getting out of your usual routine, travelling and hanging out with over 700 highly positive people to renew your enthusiasm for life and all of its opportunities.

There were many, many things that I learnt while I was away, but Darren Rowse, the brain behind ProBlogger, set us a challenge that struck me as the one thing I really need to try.  He told us to go out and experiment.

Albert Einstein on insanity

I don't know about you but it has only just recently occurred to me, as a mum and domestic CEO, that I'm often doing the same things over and over again and hoping for a different outcome.

Take Exhibit 1 below. I'm a neat person and I like the things around me to be neat.  I have in the past almost broken down in tears upon entering my boys' room (and my living room, and my kitchen) to see toys strewn from end to end.  I have wailed with frustration and lamented the prospect of many future years putting toys away and convincing them to do the same. 

One day it occurred to me that putting the same toys away every single day and complaining about the same mess every single day was not going to solve the problem and improve my quality of life.  It was just making me bitter and twisted.

I decided that I had to do something different.  

I considered the following options:

  1. Buy clever toy storage so that everything had its own place and would be easier to put away (presumably still by me though)
  2. Attempt to train my two small boys to put their toys away themselves (admirable but the phrase 'pushing rocks up hill' comes to mind)
  3. Shove everything in a corner and change my mind about how important it is to me that everything be neatly put away (ie. accept that it is what it is and if no-one else cares, why do I?)

I went with option three.  I chose to think differently and feel differently.  Now everything gets shoved in one corner out of the way of bare feet but still accessible to the people who want to play.  It still freaks me out a bit and I can't help but tidy it up a little every few weeks but I'm not hanging my happiness (and sanity) on the need for a neat and tidy space. They're kids, they're little. Let it go.

One simple experiment for a happier life

Psychologists who practise Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) talk about 'should statements'. They call them 'cognitive distortions' (or ways in which our thinking can be screwy) and they point out that constantly telling ourselves that we should be doing things really isn't helpful.  

Often we use these statements to motivate ourselves; 'I should have a neat and tidy house,' 'I should get the boys to tidy up their own room' but it doesn't help. There are lots of great ways to motivate yourself.  Telling yourself that you should do something doesn't work. It just makes you feel crappy.  

Psychologists know that to feel differently you need to think differently. You need to try new and different ways of thinking about the situation to find a way that works for you; that makes you happier.

So this brings me back to the ProBlogger Event and Darren's challenge to go out and experiment.

Just as I experimented with ways to solve my toy problem, I am going to do some experimenting with my blog.  I'm going to step away from what I think I should do and try some new things. Some will work and some won't. Some you'll love (I hope) and some you might hate.  Many of my experiments you won't even notice as they'll be little tweaks and stuff that I fiddle  around with at the back end. 

What I need from you is feedback.  Let me know what works for you and what doesn't.  Tell me when you love something - or when you hate it. Your feedback will help me to experiment further, to think differently and to keep fuelling the feelings of excitement that I have about what the future holds.

So while I'm busy plotting my experiments, tell me - what little experiments are you going to try?

And it's Tuesday so it's #IBOT