The One Word Holding You Back From Happiness

The One Word Holding You Back From Happiness

We can change the conversation. Here’s how you can choose something else instead of a counterproductive “but” (either in your head or out loud) when faced with a win, a compliment, or a pleasant result:

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By Grace Cherian

The other month I hit a pretty big business goal and found myself joyfully walking to yoga in the late afternoon. I was humming a little, feeling light and happy and enjoying the unusually warm winter sunset. I was optimistic about life and what’s next for me.
Until… the “but” came in. Oh yes, that sneaky word that ruins all good things if we let it.

I thought to myself, Yes, I had a good month, BUT people younger than I am are still smashing me, and Yeah that was a peak launch, BUT it’ll inevitably be followed by some kind of low…, and even, BUT maybe I was lucky this time?

If there’s one word that can lead to instant misery after something positive has just happened, it’s the word “but.” However, not every good thing has to be countered by a “but,” even though our minds often wander there.

We can change the conversation. Here’s how you can choose something else instead of a counterproductive “but” (either in your head or out loud) when faced with a win, a compliment, or a pleasant result:

“Esther, you do it all – you manage a baby and a busy job in the city and still make it to girls’ night out!”
Possible response: “Yeah, but I don’t do every mother’s meeting on the planet and heck—I feel like I’m failing a bit at everything…”
Better response: “Thank you! I do like my work and love my family and my friends. Plus, I do have a lovely, trusty sitter. Lucky me!”

“Susie, your skin looks so good!”

Possible response: “Isn’t ‘nice skin’ something people say when they don’t know what else to compliment? Must be because I gained weight over the last few months.”

Better response: “Thank you! I guess I’ve never really had to worry about my skin. Kind of awesome when I think about it!”
“Wendy, this pasta tastes amazing!”

Possible response: “Thanks, but the sauce is store-bought. Ugh. I always say I need to start cooking properly, another thing to feel guilty about.” Sigh!

Better response: “Thank you. Glad you like it.”

“Heath, great report! Nice work.”

Possible response: “Thanks, but I should’ve added an extra column for X and/or Y…”

Better response: “Thank you. I can add X or Y too, if you think it’ll help!”

Self: That really was the perfect gift for Lucy! She loved it! I’m good at choosing gifts.

Possible response: Hmmm… but it was two days late. I’m such a screw-up with timing.
Better response: That really was the perfect gift for Lucy! She loved it! I’m good at choosing gifts. Next year I’ll remember her birthday is on Feb 11, not 13.

What are you saying “buts” about right now that could just… be? What flow of good energy and harmony and peace are you blocking with a prickly shut down of a compliment, a harsh snap at yourself, a rush to judgment over simply… allowing space and appreciation for it instead? And letting something good truly land?

Thank you.
Yep. That’s it. Thank you. Thank yourself. Someone else. The universe.
Full stop.

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

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