15 Things to Give UP to be Happy – #2

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by MSKeller

2. Give up your need for control

When we look at the things that we want to happen, the first inclination is to MAKE it happen, by whatever means. Two lessons come to me: “Beware of what works” – meaning, be careful that the immediate result isn’t going to cause a worse one later.

Also, “Don’t push the River” – Meaning, things will happen at their own pace, let them. Some things are not ready to happen, and when they are, they will.

Beware of what works.   When I was a young mom, I realized quickly that when I gave my child a cookie to uh, encourage them to do something I wanted, that next time I wanted them to do it, they refused UNTIL they got the precedent cookie.  Gone was the intrinsic reward of obeying because that is what children did.  Gone was the motivation to do something out of love.  The unintended consequence of a moment’s ‘fix’ caused many difficulties as I learned that what ‘worked’ in the moment, wasn’t always particularly helpful in the long run.  Non-natural consequence punishment or as we like to label it sometimes, ‘discipline’ has similar or even more dire consequences.

I’ve said this for years.  In searching for others who felt similarly, I found in Positive Discipline By Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. – the 4 R’s of punishment.

¨     *Resentment- “This is unfair. I can’t trust adults”

¨     *Revenge- “They are winning now, but I’ll get even”

¨     *Rebellion- “I’ll do just the opposite just to prove I dont have to do it their way.”

¨     *Retreat- 1.Sneakiness “I wont get caught next time 2. Reduced self esteem “I am a bad person”

Seldom does a person (or child) being punished come back with, “Wow, I see that I was wrong, I really want to shape up and do better”.  We end up making a situation worse and even sometimes spiral downwards.  When I had 15 years old children, I could literally see it in their eyes when one of the 4 R’s was threatening to become an embedded response.  Sometimes I caught it in time, other times I ended up with a fist through a wall or an eye-roll.  Never did I have the ‘Oh dear Mother, I see my error, I’ll change right away!”  Never.  Beware of what works, and make sure that it is something that won’t end up being worse than the temporary fix.

Don’t push the River –“Don`t push the river, it flows by itself.” (Fritz Perls).

Fishing in Foresthill  Photo Credit: Marsha S KellerA river is a great metaphor for many things.  It is strong, yet is made up of ‘just water’, the same thing that we drink and sustains us. It can wear away granite and rock, but flows easily over anything.  Imagine yourself trying to push your canoe through a river that is already flowing along freely.  It seems like an exercise in stupidity, yet sometimes we do just that.  We push life.  My stake president said, “The Lord has a plan, but not a calendar.”  It has been a profound realization for me when things don’t seem to be happening fast enough or on the schedule I want.  I comically see myself pushing WITH a lovely flowing current, losing my step and being carried away anyhow, exactly where the river wants me to go.

Satan’s plan wasn’t a second plan.  It was simply a modification of THE plan of happiness.  He wanted to make the decisions, and have the control and the glory, thinking himself wise enough and experienced enough to know best.  I have my own thoughts on how that could easily be accomplished, and indeed in many aspects is being accomplished today, but I stray.  When I consider that I am trying to control a situation that isn’t within my stewardship TO control, I find that I am on the wrong side of that war I’ve already fought so hard to win.  Control isn’t the way.  Allowing, guiding, assisting and then sometime simply letting go, is.  Even Elohim, the father of the Universe doesn’t push.  He offers, persuades alright

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free, 240

Anonymous. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

 1. Know this, that ev’ry soul is free To choose his life and what he’ll be;

For this eternal truth is giv’n: That God will force no man to heav’n.


2. He’ll call, persuade, direct aright, And bless with wisdom, love, and light,

In nameless ways be good and kind, But never force the human mind.


3. Freedom and reason make us men; Take these away, what are we then?

Mere animals, and just as well The beasts may think of heav’n or hell.

 4. May we no more our pow’rs abuse, But ways of truth and goodness choose;

Our God is pleased when we improve His grace and seek his perfect love.


Don’t push the River.  Choose to be happier.  Give up the need to control every situation.

About MSKeller

Marsha Steed Keller (Th'Muse) "When I get a little money, I buy books, if there is any left, I buy food and clothes." --Desiderius Erasmus. This defines a part of Marsha's psychology and intent fairly well. When she was a child she says that people asked what super-power she would desire. She replied, "To know what is true, always." It hasn't changed much since then. Marsha cares more about intent than result; more about understanding than agreement and more about good questions than finding all the answers. She defines her best blessings as people (Family and Friends), ideas and beauty. She is highly visual, teaches voice and piano and enjoys her Life/Relationship coaching immensely. She has a BA in Psychology and an AA in Ballroom Dance. Life is an adventure to be lived in the moment and shared with the world. She considers being asked to write with this amazing group a high honor.

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