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Change Your Thoughts Or Change Your Actions
Written by Mark Millard C.Psychol   

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Neibuhr.


Life Satisfaction = Actuality - Expectation

How satisfied you are with life depends in part on where you see yourself to be and how well it compares with where you want to be.

If things have turned out better than you expected, all well and good. If, however you feel things have not worked out so well the sense of shortfall can be quite disturbing.

If so, there are two ways we can restore balance & harmony.


Improving Life Satisfaction

Change Your Mind
We can change our approach and consciously close the gap in our minds by thinking about things differently - either by adjusting our aims & expectations or being more positive & accepting of the way things are.

Change Your Actions
We can change our actions and try to make the way things are much more like the way we want them to be. We can stick to our aims and actively work at turning our dreams into reality

Both can be effective ways of improving our sense of wellbeing - accepting what we can't change and working at what we can - and each comes with its own set of possible pros and cons.


Through acceptance we adjust the fit between our aspirations and the actuality. Our aims or expectations might have been unrealistic in the first place, the reality might actually be better than we think or possibly circumstances changed and we didn't readjust. Either way, seeing things as they are and taking them on board can help us move on. We mindfully accept our situation

Advantages: Peace, serenity, comfort, closure, relaxation

Disadvantages: Missed opportunities, unfulfilled aspirations


By changing our actions we set out to shift where we are closer to where we want to be, we pursue our aims, change our approach or behaviour, engage with the world and work it to our will. We physically change our situation

Advantages: Achievement, actualisation, innovation, mastery, fulfilment

Disadvantages: Stress, anxiety


In some situations, especially where the source of our unhappiness or dissatisfaction is something we can do very little about, changing the way we think about those things is the only practical path to choose.

In other situations however, especially where we have freedom to choose, we can use our sense of dissappointment as a spur, a stimulus to do different or better.

And the two techniques work well together, in some situations adjusting the way we look at things combined with changing what we do can produce powerful results.

Has acceptance or action worked for you?

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