“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn’t.”

I don’t remember where I first read that quote, but it makes me smile whenever I think of it. I’m guessing it was meant as a light-hearted observation, but there’s probably more truth to it than we realize.

What brought it to mind just recently is a book I am reading, entitled Resisting Happiness, by Matthew Kelly. Not that I consider myself unhappy, or that I believe I’m resisting happiness. Still, the title and the topic intrigued me. Plus, I’ve enjoyed other books by the same author. And it was recommended by a friend with whom I’ve done other book studies. So I bought a copy, and our book group is now reading it. It’s one of those books that has a key point and an action step at the end of each chapter, so it has “self-improvement” built into it, as long as you actually do the action steps instead of just reading them.

Before you can recognize how and where you are resisting happiness, though, you have to know what makes you happy. This is not as easy or obvious as it may seem. The book, which has a faith-based premise, puts God at the center of our happiness. But whether or not this resonates with you, you need to acknowledge what your source of happiness would be. And it always goes deeper than material things like money, a good job, or a beautiful home.

One of the first things the book emphasizes is that resistance is anytime we do things we know we shouldn’t be doing, or avoid the things we should be doing, that would lead to our happiness. That’s the part that made me think about advice being when we know the answer but wish we didn’t. And it’s something we could use as a guideline with regard to anything we want to achieve, not just happiness.

If I want to lose a few pounds, then I am resisting my goal whenever I eat or drink anything I know to be loaded with fat and calories, or when I ignore or avoid healthier choices. If I want to learn a new skill or complete a difficult project, I am giving in to resistance whenever I choose to do something else instead of the work I need to do. So it seems to me that overcoming resistance is a matter of discipline. And focusing on delayed, rather than instant, gratification.

I’m already examining different goals, dreams, and plans I’ve had over the years that never came to fruition. It’s enlightening to look at them in relation to two questions: Would they lead to my happiness and satisfaction? And what was the reason for my resistance to completing them?

I have a feeling the answers will – like advice – tell me things I already know. Perhaps thinking of them in terms of resistance will give me fresh new motivation and incentive to finish them. And a sense of satisfaction when I do.

Just thinking about it makes me happy.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 13, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

What makes you happy? I’d love to hear about it! Please be aware, however, that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog, in order to protect all of us from unwanted spam.