By David Joel Miller.
Magic is about to happen.
In this quest for a happy life it is easy to get confused, lost and turned around. Sometimes we stumble over an obstacle or two or even end up in a deep hole. We lose sight of where we are going and get stuck in just getting by each day. The solution to our problems may be just around the other side of that big rock over there or behind any tree but if you are tired and discouraged then it is hard to keep going.
Time for the Genie
Genies are magical creatures that can clap their hands, wave a wand and change things instantly. Wands used to be exclusively for use by fairies but that was back when fairies were predominantly heterosexual. These days Genies have taken up using magic wands. Wands appear to work regardless of your sexual preference.
So imagine with me that you have just encountered a Genie carrying his magic wand. Because you and you alone have seen him he grants you 3 magic wishes. You must use them now or lose them. There are no “do overs” and wishing for more wishes is not allowed.
What would you want?
This magic wish question is helpful in discovering our real desires. Not the things we say we want or the things we know we are supposed to want, but what do you really want?
I have asked this question of people young and old, on crisis psychiatric units and in residential treatment. The answers I get are amazing.
Some children list things – lots of things, that new video game and a better smart phone and – and –and. Other kids say things like “I wish my parents didn’t fight.” The want a safe place to live or food to eat. They are wishing for the things that are the necessities of life in my book.
So what three wishes do you have for this Genie?
Write those wishes down. Pull out the list of values you made earlier. If you are just joining us we made a list of values, things that really matter to us earlier. You can look back at that post if you chose.
Make sure these wishes are consistent with your values. Now keep that list of wishes. Take it out on a regular basis and see if you are any closer to these goals. Be forewarned that just accomplishing a goal will not make you happy. Happiness is an inside job. But you will never move forward if you don’t have a clear vision of where you want to go.
An example of progress towards happiness may help.
Let’s say that your values were that you wanted to have a better relationship with your kids. Your religious and spiritual values are really important to you. Right now you are stressed out from work and overcome with bills. That financial and job stress is making you so upset that you can’t really be present when you are with your kids. You find that when you are around them you are short-tempered and grouchy. So two of your wishes to the Genie were; that you had a less stressful job and that your bills were paid off.
Now you need to have a conversation with the Genie.
He could eliminate the job stress by getting you fired. No job, no stress – is that what you want? Or he could give you some magic herbs that reduce stress. Careful here, lots of people opt for the herbs. You say herbs; the Genie has done his work and is gone. Now what happens when the herbs run out? Lots of people reach for drugs or medications to relieve stress and discover they have become dependent on them. We call that addiction.
He could solve the bill stress. Get you evicted, no home, no more water and power or rent bills. Is that what you had in mind?
What else could the Genie do for you? Maybe he teaches yoga and meditation part-time. He could teach you relaxation techniques. Or he might also moonlight as a CBT therapist and teach you how to avoid “stressing yourself out” over work. Learning ways to reduce you stress at work might be just what the Genie ordered.
The Genie could also get you transferred to another department. But you don’t need him for that. You can put in for that transfer all on your own.
So what you have done here is develop a list of things that you would like the Genie to change. You have also thought about the how, the way in which you want him to make the changes.
For each change you want the Genie to make in your life, record the way in which he would do this and the steps that would take.
You might decide you want a new career. You need more education and training to get that new job. That means going back to school, which means applying to get in and taking a placement test. Don’t overload yourself. You did not give the Genie a time deadline to get this done. You just want him to start making the changes and so you need to know what the steps are that will make up those changes.
Wait – before you run out the door and start making all these changes. The Genie is trying to tell you something.
You are at the crossroads in your life and there is always danger at the crossroads. You need to hear what the Genie says about those dangers.
Next post I will tell you what the Genies warning was.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books