I am a big fan of Dr Gordon Livinston- for those of you who don't know him or haven't heard of him he is a psychiatrist but a very straight talking insightful and funny man. I first discovered him on Life Matters on Radio National and read the book he was plugging at the time and it is one of my all time faves now... like a little reference book - for life...
Nooo- not like Dr Phil, ( I am not a fan at all- he just tells people what to do) Dr Livingston has some brilliant ideas about life and love. The book is called Too Soon Old and Too Late Smart ( he has written a couple more since then) it is a book of short essays about life and all the things he has learnt from his patients over his years as a psychiatrist ( as well as the lessons learnt personally surviving the death of two of his children) . I generally run screaming from anything even remotely like a self help book - and spend a large amount of time explaining the inappropriateness of some of the " advice" in some of the books my clients bring in to show me. But this book is something different... he writes in a way that is planting a seed and you find yourself - while reading the book regularly stopping and thinking about what he is saying... I feel as if he has been able to simply explain quite huge ideas and concepts.
My favourite idea of his : it is so simple yet so eloquent, I cannot believe no one else has ever explained this concept to me in this easy way-
happiness is not simply the absence of despair... our lives should have both meaning and pleasure. He goes onto to say that happiness is about three simple things
1. something to do,
2. something to love
3. something to look forward too...
I keep it in the back of my mind when I am working with my clients to get their lives back on track after usually a very difficult time in their lives... but he also goes onto to say in his most recent book about love and life that the three most important decisions you will ever make are:
1. what to do (as in to earn money- for most of us)
2. where you live
3. who your partner is.
Again seems so simplistic but perhaps not. If I honestly think about times in my life where I have been unhappy it has been one of those three reasons every time.
Why at almost 35 years old (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk) has this concept just been explained to me! Should we not learn this at school- in some way??? I feel at this point in my life I have made a decision I am happy about on all three of those big questions- is this what makes me happy? I think yes.
Yes, we are born with certain tendencies towards happiness for sure but ultimately we make decisions about how we react to the events on our lives- this determines our happiness...not the things that happen to us but how we react to them. I am sure you can all think of the person who always looks on the negative side... I know of someone like this who recently sold his house very quickly- rather than be happy that it all went so well his reaction is one of despair that it must have been too cheap! this negativity drives me absolutely bonkers!
So I say- stay away from people that bring you down - but most of all be happy- look at your life and change the bits you don't like. You deserve to laugh everyday.