Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sustainable Change Begins with Noticing What is Already Working

I sometimes say to people. "I am not a therapist. I do not want to be a therapist. I do not believe that people who work with me are broken." The result of working with me (one to one or in a class) is frequently that people feel better. We don't get there by focusing on what is wrong.

This can be hard for people to understand. Like me, they learned to believe that focusing on what works is okay for academics, but not good enough for the "real" world. In the "real" world, people have problems that cause them real suffering. What kind of person would ignore those problems to focus on what works? It sounds a little like a case where the rich get richer, doesn't it?

It is. The more we assume that we have the strengths, skills and resources to live satisfying lives, the more we live satisfying lives. The more we assume that we will become happy after our problems are solved, the more problems we find that need solving. Problems are like the Hydra - when you cut off one head, two more appear.

Here's the alternative: offer all of your curiosity and attention and effort to identifying all the resources you have that allow you to achieve what you need to be happier and more satisfied. Dr. Barry Duncan is the author of What's Right with You?  In this five minute interview, he explains why he believes that people have what they need to solve their problems and live their lives well.

In this video, Dan Heath explains how 'bright spots' enable us to navigate through periods of change, feeling better and doing better.


It's not easy to look at the bright spots instead of the problems. It takes a continual refocusing of our natural attention (we automatically search for disasters-in-the-making). It requires our best analytical thinking and more than a little detective work. It's not easier than wallowing in despair. It just works much better.

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