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The Art of Getting Life Done

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” ~ Paul McCartney

On an average day, walking through the hallways of a high school, you would see the following scene: students sitting in tidy rows, at individual desks while a teacher lectures.  Some actually taking notes, some chatting, some texting, and others sleeping.  Collaboration and cooperation are not visible- they have the potential to create chaos, dissidence, mutiny…. Having taught for 25 years , I am both a product and part of this system that promotes a culture of obedience – where good grades and right answers get gold stars, where you have to prove yourself on your own.  This system sets us up to become obedient employees in life, to look out for number one and rely on oneself to get things done.

It indoctrinates us with this model: Suck it up.  Get through it.  If you work hard, nose to the grind, you’ll experience success.  And, then….you’ll be Happy.

Time to question this.  Quite frankly “sucking it up” feels downright yucky.  In fact, it brings up my fight/flight up in a big way: What if I ask for help and I’m told “no”?   This idea of rejection feels almost insurmountable.

Yet, when push comes to shove and I need to “get things done” the last place I reach for is my peeps.  In fact, I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf in my functioning: perfectly comfortable spending inordinate amounts of time on my own without so much as a phone call for days.  Sucking it up.

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage mentions how so many of us fall prey to this functioning: how when faced with challenges and stress, we tend to go it alone.  In so doing, run out of air.

His antidote? Community:  people we can count on to help us multiply our emotional, intellectual and physical resources.  I would add to this, spiritual. When we have a social circle we go to in times of stress “we bounce back from setbacks faster, accomplish more, and feel a greater sense of purpose.” I know this to be true.  When I have been among my peeps, I leave feeling like my oxygen tank has been replenished and the work that seemed so overwhelming before gets done with a lot more vim and verve.  All it takes is allowing oneself the “seeming luxury” of taking a break and reconnecting with the flow of love one gets from our support crew.

The above model is backward, says Shawn Achor.  The road to success is actually paved by finding happiness FIRST, not the other way around.

So, should you be feeling as if you’re gasping, call your peeps.  Take a break.  Get yourself happy.  Success will follow with much greater ease.





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