What D’ya Mean, It’s Not Your Nature?

I’ve got the best job in the world.  I get to work with people, to help them enhance their relationships.  It is so much fun.  Whether we’re working with a company team, an individual, or couples, it’s always different.  There are patterns in interactions, and patterns in thinking habits, but each individual is unique.  And there is always something for me to ponder and learn.

Something came up recently that got me scratchin’ my noodle.

We were coaching a married couple and asking them about what they wanted in their relationship.  She said she wanted them to be more demonstrative with each other: to hug and kiss; to touch each other in loving ways; to hear the words “I love you”; etc.

He chuckled and responded with the old phrase, “I told you I loved you 20 years ago.  If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”

When asked about ways he could be more affectionate, he said, “That’s not my nature.”  In other words, it was not comfortable for him.

I was intrigued and it poses a great question for me, and for you.  What is your nature?

Quite honestly, when I think back (way, way back), I believe my nature is to eat, drink, sleep, and poop.  That’s what I was born to do – it’s my nature.

You too?

Then I did some uncomfortable things like learn to crawl, walk, ride a bike, and drive a car.  They were not my nature.  And I went to school to learn the “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic” – not my nature.  I figured out how to get along with people (a wee bit), to hold down a job, and to start several businesses – not my nature.  I got married, became a parent, and started to drink coffee – not my nature.

And as I think about it, there are a ton of things that I do regularly that are not comfortable, and some of them I may not even enjoy – they are not my nature.  But I do them anyway because they help me to live a happy and joyful life.

You too?

How did it turn out for the gentleman referred to previously?  He decided that he was willing to do some things that were not his nature, they were even a bit uncomfortable at first.  Why?  Because he saw the value for him; to experience more happiness and joy in his relationship with his wife.

So my question for you is this:  To live a more joyful life, what are you going to do, today – something that is not your nature? Want some ideas?

– hug your life-partner at least 10 times today
– hug a friend or colleague
– give kind words of praise to a child
– send a love letter by snail-mail to your lover
– genuinely compliment the attendant at the gas station
– address a waiter or waitress by name (it’s on their name badge)
– offer a ride to a stranger
– call your parents on the phone just to say, “I love you.”
– start an exercise program
– commit to reading a good book
– call someone with whom you’ve had an argument, and apologise
– invite a friend for lunch (and buy it)
– learn to meditate

How hard and uncomfortable would it be to do one, or all of those?  What other “not my nature” things could you do that would add joy to your life immediately?  What might be the long-term benefits when you choose to make some of these things habits?

I believe that ultimately, my nature and your nature is happiness.  And it’s the moment-to-moment choices you and I make (some of them hard and uncomfortable) that allow us to experience happiness more and more.

Do you want to honestly say that you’ve got the best job, the best marriage, the best relationship with your kids, your colleagues, your friends?  Or would you rather whine and complain and say that life sucks?

What’s your nature?  It’s a choice you get to make.