Cheerfulness is the very flower of health.

~ Proverb ~

Stopping Goldilocks

February 11th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 57 secs

You know what Goldilocks would have said about this bed…

In a way, we are all like Goldilocks. Restlessly searching for whatever captures our attention, we want what we haven’t got.

And, like Goldilocks, we want things to be just right. Otherwise, we’re not happy. That doesn’t seem too problematic. Except that many of us do it with virtually everything we’ve got.

Can you see how complicated life gets because of this Goldilocks phenomenon? Not content with things as they are, we keep searching for something more. In some ways, it keeps us pressing ever ahead (which is fine if you want to discover a new country, singlehandedly pull a sled across the Antarctic, or push the profits of your company up). But what happens if that same discontent kicks in at a relationship level?

This restlessness we feel which causes us much trouble apparently has its origins in our brain. Created to spot difference, we not only discern our world with it, we need novelty to survive.  So, when something moves in the corner of our eye we spot it. Like the rest of our senses, we continually draw input to check for change. Difference gets our attention.

Like Goldilocks, we roam our environment in search of things of interest. Porridge might be nice. Then again, so would jewelry, a new car, or a great night out. Whatever we train our attention to not only takes priority but also a mass of meanings attached.

For instance, noticing that your partner isn’t giving you as much attention lately, is sure to trigger a host of conclusions (and, maybe, suspicions). The fact that Goldilocks was keen on sitting on chairs, eating gruel, and hitting the hay in a bear beds revealed what was on her mind. And what you and I have on our mind also determines our priorities for difference.

Potentially this works well enough. We stick to our day job, save up, and get to do at least some of the things we prioritize. But the casualty of this kind of life is the loss of abiding happiness that comes from contentment. Like that break and enter blond, Goldilocks, we won’t feel bright until we get what we like and then, finally, everything (theoretically) will be just right.

What we need, I believe, is to add an extra lever to our thinking. One that lets us activate thankfulness even when things aren’t quite right.  Remembering what is lovely, beautiful, and uplifting redefines the landscape so that our restless press for newness doesn’t consume us. Had Goldilocks done the same, she would never have turned to a life of crime, while a small family of bears could have happily been spared a slightly embarrassing insurance claim.

Happy: Heaven Or Hassle?

Can You Fing Happiness Down The Road?

It’s Not The How Of Happiness But The Why


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