Am I happy? My coach tells me to learn how I feel.

My neice, Saige, feeling sleepy after too much work.

I knew from the very first lesson that things could get a little weird working with my business coach.

Coach Nancy asked me to spend time acknowledging my feelings.

I’m a guy. I’m a cynic. I’m a former reporter. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my feelings.

But I signed up for eight sessions and didn’t want to walk away during the first one. Plus, Coach Nancy explained the reasons for this in such a way that I understood why it was important right from the beginning. So I decided to just go with it and explore my feelings. I’m really glad I did.

It turns out that there are a number of things that people do to mask feelings. These are called numbing behaviors.

Many numbing behaviors are harmful to the body and soul. You can probably name a few: drinking, overeating, gambling, doing drugs.

But there are some others that fall into a gray area or even seem helpful: watching TV, surfing the Web, reading, shopping, gaming, exercising, cleaning the house.

Yeah, it turns out that some people actually tidy up as a numbing activity. I’m not so lucky.

I also cut out watching TV years ago. I don’t have cable and I watch maybe three hours of TV per week with Alex or friends.

But I did spend a lot of time on the Web and justified it easily. I read a lot of high-brow sites and was really up-to-date with current events. It seemed as if I were being productive but I was unconsciously wasting time. And numbing my feelings.

Coach Nancy asked me to spend some time being conscious about how I felt throughout the week.

I quickly realized that I was happiest when I faced new challenges or completed projects or tasks. I was also happy when I spent time on an activity that I specifically chose and had looked forward to. But I wasn’t happy at all when I fell into surfing the Web. I felt, well, numb.

If you want to try this exercise, remember that the key point is to identify your numbing behavior, not fix it. I’ll get to some tactics for that over the next few weeks. At first, just identify the times when you are happy and when you are numb.

During my three months with Coach Nancy I did successfully reduce the amount of time I spend passively surfing the Web with no objective in mind. Now I log on to the Web to complete a specific task: conduct research, update social media, pay bills. But I rarely log on to waste time. Instead, I have a goal in mind, such as writing this blog post.

I use my extra time to complete tasks that I choose to do, including walks around the office to socialize with my peers, connecting with clients, inviting business associates to breakfast or lunch and a long list of other things that make me happy and successful. It even works outside of the office. Instead of wasting time with my favorite numbing activity I am more engaged and thoughtful about my social life.

Being deliberate really makes me happy.

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

Kurt Vonnegut

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