We have a question in our heads, then an answer pops up, then we hold on to that answer. A lot of times for the rest of our lives.
And after we struggle so hard to make that answer happen, we find ourselves still unfulfilled.
In my walks of life, I found that the first answer that popped into our heads are usually not the right answer.
The right answer, usually are simpler, easier but at the same time more complicated and harder to do.
Let me give you some examples that I often heard.
“I’m broke. I don’t have enough money to live.”
Of course the first answer would be: I need a bigger income. But the right answer could be: A better financial skills and money habits. No matter how big your income, you can still live your life in financial fear. You need a lifestyle that is suitable for your income and some good habit (eating at home, going out less and putting some money for investments).
“I’m bored with my job.”
First answer: I need a more exciting job. Right answer: You are bored with your job maybe because you never put enough effort in it. Maybe because you see your job only as a paycheck, not a basketball court where you could practice your shots everyday and play against more exciting teams in every game. It’s amazing when you take your job seriously how boredom disappears into thin air. Like the author Ruth Burke said, “Only boring people are bored.”
“I’m sleepy at work.”
First answer: I need naps. Lotsa naps. Right answer: Proven scientifically, most of us are sleepy because of the kind and the portion of the food we take. If you have a big breakfast (lots of carbohidrates, that’s nasi uduk, bakmi ayam and bubur ayam) you’ll most definetely will be sleepy and find it hard to focus by 10 o’clock. Try a high protein and fruit breakfast, and magically you’re energized until lunch.
“I don’t have any good ideas.”
First answer: My office space is dull. It needs to be more kinda like Google Campus. Right answer: Deadline and commitment and intense focus produce more great ideas than all of your colourful bean bags and Playstation breaks combined. If you don’t have commitment and deadline and focus, you can lounge all day, walk in the park or stare at the sky and get nothing done. Sit. Do the work. Get the pencil. Click the mouse. Type the keyboard. GET IT DONE. BY TOMMORROW MORNING. 9AM.
“I don’t write good stuff.”
First (and romantic) answer: I need some wine and jazz music and a view overlooking the hills. Right answer: You need practice. Write a ton of crap so you can write one good article. The percentage will improve and that’s how you are going to write your first bestseller. And bring a writing pad everywhere you are, so when inspiration strikes, you can write it down, right then and there. That is my little secret in writing. Not the view overlooking the hills. I wrote my best articles sitting on my toilet.
“I’m tired all the time.”
First answer: I need more sleep/rest/holiday. Right answer: On the contrary, most of the time the cure for tiredness is more activity. Have you ever felt very tired after spending the whole day in bed? And feel very energetic after an intense sports activity? So when you feel tired all the time, instead of adding some sleeping time, try to do some exercises.
And about that holiday: Everyone needs holidays, but having too much holidays will ruin your life momentum (the longer you are in a holiday, the harder for you to get back on your feet again).
“I’m disappointed with my spouse.”
First answer: It is just my luck to marry a lazy husband/complaining wife. Maybe I’ll divorce the bastard. Right answer: Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror? Maybe he/she behaves that way because of your fault? Have you treated him with respect? Have you appreciated the things that she does? Have you been an inspiration to each other?
“My life is so hard. I can’t take it anymore.”
First answer: I need a new life. Right answer: Life is about the way you see things. Have you seen those more unfortunate? Have you seen a smile on your healthy child? Have you eaten a delicious lunch? Have you walked on your own two feet? Develop a habit to whisper a prayer of gratefulness and see how that will answer your question.
. . .
Hopefully I am quite accurate on these first answers predictions so you can really understand what I am talking about. The answers to your problems are not what you imagined.
You too can see a pattern here. On the first, reflex answers usually we blame other people or we shift the responsibility. The true answer is always about taking the responsibility to ourselves.
When you blame outer situations or outside people, even though it is easy, you get depressed, because you cannot do anything about it.
But when you shift the answer to yourself, even though it is hard, you get inspired, because, if you want, you can do something about it.
So I’m gonna close with this thought:
Always reject the first answer. We need a new reflex. Automatically skip it. Take the next one that makes you responsible.
Hopefully by then you get your true answer.
And you’re one step closer to happiness.
– – – *Follow the writer Edward Suhadi on his Twitter account @edwardsuhadi