Do you have things or situations in your life that cause you to go, “ugh!”?
I call them Tolerations — things you “put up with” in your life. Because they are often small and invisible, they create stress without your awareness; they drain your energy.
Happiness Principle #6 reads: Tolerate Nothing. Continually identify and eliminate all the little “stuff” which causes you friction and drains your energy.
When I introduce people to the concept of Tolerations they often list issues they are tolerating, but then they get overwhelmed when they consider how much WORK it’s going to take to address them.
No. Stop. It doesn’t have to be about you changing them — it’s about you changing YOU, which is a lot easier.
Here’s the thing: people are people, and situations are situations. They are neither good nor bad, hard nor easy. It is your ASSESSMENT of a person or situation that creates your stress, and many times the easiest way to reduce your stress is to change the story you tell yourself.
Example: For several years, my gym time overlapped with that of a guy I’ll call “Greg.” Greg worked out six days a week, and was in superb physical condition, via swimming, weights, and cardio work. AND Greg was a neat freak/germophobe. Each time I crossed his path he would comment on a leaky sink, the odor in the bathroom, insufficient hot water in the showers, etc, etc. I regularly agreed with him, and we’d have a little pity party….
And I would leave the gym feeling stressed and a little down.
What Greg said was true — stuff wasn’t working. Also true: this was a 60-year old YMCA building, and Greg issues were related to the aging facilities. One day this situation came up in my tolerations work, and I realized I was whining. So I adjusted my thinking and my behavior.
In working on myself, I also became aware of what Greg was doing. So I asked him, “If you have so many problems with the place, why do you keep working out here?” Greg looked at me with surprise. His first reaction was, “I’ve been coming here for years!” and I came back with, “So have I, Greg… and I cannot think of a time when these were not issues. You are arguing with reality. Do you realize that you are tolerating these conditions?” “Tolerating?” I explained what I meant, and he pondered that as he dressed and left.
I never saw Greg again at the YMCA. However, we traveled in overlapping business circles, and two months later I saw him at a networking event. He came over to shake my hand and said, “You were right. I obsessed about that place, and yet I had the power to change the situation all along. I found another gym that I like better. Thank you for showing me that I was putting up with the situation. It was not them that needed to change – it was me!”
And that’s the point of Tolerations. If you are unaware of something that is draining you, it will continue to Zap your energy. The tolerations exercise gives you the opportunity to say, “that bugs me,” out loud, and really acknowledge it.
Once you do that, you have choices that you did NOT have when it was invisible to you. You can CHOOSE to remain and whine about it, OR…you can choose to take action, make a plan, make a request of someone else, or even…
…change your thinking about it. Note the contrast between how Greg and I experienced the same reality – shower facilities occasionally smelled and needed constant repair:
- Greg thought, “It should not be like this. This is wrong. I am suffering.” And he took action to find a new place.
- I looked at the same situation and thought, “yes, there are breakdowns constantly; AND they keep it clean and the price is reasonable, and I am willing to accept the tradeoffs.”
We CHOSE different, yet equally effective paths: I let go of the toleration by changing my story, while Greg eliminated the toleration by changing his environment.
Notice that what changed in both situations was US – first, awareness, then making a new choice.
Do This For Yourself
What are you tolerating? Download the complete exercise here.
If you removed a few tolerations, how much better might you feel? Think about it. Less burdens to carry. More energy and capacity to focus on what’s important. More space to feel happiness and contentment rather than the anxiety and stuckness that often accompany tolerations.
And who doesn’t want to be happier?
Visit https://theexecutivehappinesscoach.com/resources/articles/HP06-TolerateNothing.pdf for complete instructions and a Tolerations worksheet
Drop me a note to tell me what YOU notice when you acknowledge your tolerations. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you.