Relief or Happiness – What Do You Choose?

I work with a lot of couples where one partner takes great pride in being a problem solver.

I, too, am a big believer in solving problems. 

Yet, after all my years of working with all kinds of couples, one principle gradually emerged: fixing or solving problems does not bring happiness.

It brings relief but not happiness.

After I tell couples this, I pause and let it soak in. And then I ask them what they think of that statement.

Usually there is a pause and a kind of head nod with a hint of puzzlement on their face. 

Then they ask, “So what does bring happiness?” 

I explain that fixing/solving problems is looking backward. Couples describe a problem that happens over and again and then try to fix or solve it. If successful it usually brings relief but not happiness.

Happiness is forward looking. It is a creative and generative process. Not a problem-solving process.

The questions are different for happiness: 

  • What do we need to create that we don’t have now?
  • What skills do we need to develop or strengthen that are important going forward?
  • What attitudes do we need to develop or strengthen?
  • What habits would be good to discard and good to acquire?
  • What could inspire us to grow together?
  • What would we try if we knew we would not fail?
  • What would we try if we had bold confidence?

When you ask these kinds of questions you are moving from desperation or negotiation to inspiration.

You conspire together to generate ideas from doing things together, common goals, planning the future, serving others. Ideas that spark enthusiasm. 

Today’s blog post is an invitation to take a step towards happiness together. Individually write down your answers to the above questions. Think big. Brainstorm a bit. And then compare notes with your partner – preferably over a leisurely dinner. With absolutely no discouraging words, like “How would THAT happen?”

Happy Different Valentine’s Day

Pete Pearson

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