Bill Cottringer

“A smile cures the wounding of a frown.” ~William Shakespeare.

Here are ten practical ways to reduce your unhappy failures and boost your happy successes, curing your frowns with smiles:

1. Follow the reality principle. Several decades ago, a psychotherapist by the name of William Glasser, built a whole system of counseling based on the reality principle, aptly called “Reality Therapy.” People basically have emotional problems because of their failures and unhappiness about those failures simply because they are not dealing with reality as it is, but rather trying to make it into something it isn’t. Denying the truth of the reality principle results in many unnecessary frowns cheating you of more smiles.

2. Learn what un-forgiveness is all about. Not forgiving others or yourself can ferment much unhappiness and rob you of even more success. The odd thing about this is that forgiveness requires following the reality principle above, which seems to be very hard to do when dealing with ourselves and other people. The truth be known, most lack of forgiveness is based more on inaccurate information about what you think you know, than on correct perceptions and memory (see # 7 below) which you are most sure of.

3. Shift focus from goals to actions. When you over-focus on the goals you have for yourself, you under-focus on what you could be doing to earn the results you want from doing the things that are necessary to feel happy and successful. Something gets lost in the translation and it is the actions you need to be taking to move ahead in your journey. Being stuck in between where you are and where you want to be, is the land of many frowns.

4. Challenge assumptions about success and happiness. There are as many unproven assumptions about success and happiness as there are definitions for these concepts. For instance, when a writer challenges the assumption that you have to be a best-selling author to be a happy and successful writer, a funny thing happens—more smiles and less frowns.

5. Catch your hand in the cookie jar. The worst habit we are all guilty of is this thing we have labeled “instant need gratification.” So the next time you fall prey to being held hostage by this impatient habit, catch your own hand in the cookie jar. You will know exactly what to do about it without validating the options elsewhere. This is the cheapest of all fixes for changing frowns to smiles.

6. Change something. Not long ago the common corporate chant was, “focus on results and no change occurs, but focus on change and the results will come.” This has really always been true because the main goal in life is self-growth through learning, growing and improving. And that requires changing something. One change that I find always works is a change in grooming or wardrobe and that doesn’t have to require a second mortgage.

7. Know the brain game. Our human brains are not necessarily wired for the truth. For instance, both the memory and perceptual processes are very faulty with all sorts of untruthful biases. And, wrong perceptions and memories about other people and situations, which are probably more the norm than not for most of us, can lead to permanent frowns needing plastic surgery.

8. Stop doing things you hate to do. Long ago I made a promise to myself, I would not engage in anything that I hated to do if I could find another way to get it done. And, there are always other ways to get things done. Sure, it is easy to relapse with your promise, but it is just as easy to keep that promise too. There is always a way and you always know it.

9. Strike the words “success” and “happiness” from your vocabulary. Are these two very over-used words really necessary? Can any two people really ever agree upon common definitions for these two obsessions? These things are very vague, uncertain long-range goals in the sky and the more you define them through the things you are doing that make you smile more than frown, the less you frown and the more you smile.

10. Fill waiting time for results with a diversion. I like to do arts and crafts projects, photography and other creative things. But I like to work quickly and am very impatient about getting results (ADHD) so I can move on to the next project. I often have to go back and repair sloppy jobs from rushing through them un-carefully. The one thing I have found to work is to find some kind of diversion to occupy my attention away from getting these projects done. It definitely works to avoid a lot of unnecessary unhappy failures.

Try any one of these frown cures to more smiling. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing), The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press), You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers), and Reality Repair Rx (Publish America) This article is an excerpt from an upcoming book Reality Repair. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or