There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
I have an approach to problems, which I refer to as The Coin Theory. I consider problems to be like a coin. One side of our problem is the heads side, and the other side is the tails side. The tails side is the obvious, bad part of our problem. The heads side is the positive perspective on our problem. The key to living a happy life is to acknowledge the tails side, but to focus on the heads side.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you are great at your job. You are knowledgeable about your field, and you work hard. However, your boss won’t give you a raise. She tells you that while she appreciates all that you do, she simply doesn’t have the extra money for a raise.
Under these circumstances, what are you going to focus on each day when you go to your job? Are you going to focus on the heads side of your job? Are you going to feel good about the fact that you are well-accomplished in your work? Or, are you going to focus on the tails side? Are you going to feel frustrated by the fact that your boss won’t pay you the amount of money that you would like to earn?
If you focus on the tails side, you will go to work each day in a miserable mood. You will feel unappreciated and frustrated by your job. However, your angry attitude won’t change the situation. Your boss simply isn’t going to give you a raise, even if you are doing your job beautifully.
So, you have a choice. You can go to work every day unhappy because you aren’t being compensated in the manner that you would like. Or, you can go to work with a smile on your face, knowing that you are incredibly good at what you do. You can derive confidence from being great at your job. You can focus on learning new skills at your current job which will enable you to get the next job, where you will receive the pay and recognition that you deserve. The choice is yours. Which side of the coin are you going to focus on?
This approach works for any troubling situation in our lives. Let’s say you have heart issues. On the tails side, you can focus on the fact that heart disease is very serious. It is the leading cause of death in the United States. You can feel overwhelmed and wonder if your own death is imminent.
Or, you can focus on the fact that you have a physical ailment which can be improved by making simple lifestyle changes. Changing how often you exercise and what you eat can have a huge impact on heart disease. It is far better to have an illness which can be improved through our own efforts than one which can only be treated with medications or serious surgeries.
The Coin Theory especially holds true in relationships. So often a spouse will focus on the one thing that they don’t like about their husband or wife, rather than focusing on the other million great traits that he or she holds. For instance, a wife might be frustrated by the fact that her husband lacks spontaneity. But she overlooks the fact he is very responsible, and that she never has to worry about their making ends meet, or that their bills won’t be paid on time (big things!). Or a husband may wish that his wife enjoyed the same interests that he does. But he forgets that she works hard at her job to contribute financially to the household, or that she does a great job to make sure that the kids are organized and are doing well in school (again, big things!).
I shudder to think of how many marriages end up in divorce because spouses choose to focus on what they think their spouse lacks, rather than focusing on their spouse’s wonderful attributes. The same holds true for our relationships with our children, co-workers and friends. I’m not suggesting that you turn a blind eye to the bad qualities of other people. As a matter of self-preservation, you need to be aware of where other people have failings. But relationships run more smoothly when we focus on what others do well.
The Coin Theory works for all problems in life. This week, consider using it when approaching your own problems and concerns. See how flipping your perspective from what is wrong in your life to what is so very right can make a big difference in how you experience the world.
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