Do You Need a Particular Outcome to Be Happy?

Your new house

Although I rarely practice law anymore, these past months I’ve been trying to help my cousin purchase his family’s dream home in New York.  My cousin and his wife have one child and another on the way.  Because of my emotional attachment, it has been difficult dealing with the many bumps and challenges of this transaction.  Yet I believed that I could get this deal done for them.  It became so important to me in part because my cousin had been very sick at one time and the opportunity to buy this home seemed like a new beginning for him.  In my mind, I actually started to believe that my cousin needed this particular deal to happen for his happiness and well-being.  My cousin does not have a lot of money and this house would be stretching it but affordable.  It was located near his job and in a good school district.  Yesterday we got word that the bank wouldn’t lend them enough money to get the deal done.  I was so upset and feeling very down last night about the news and I was only able to sleep a few hours.  As I woke up this morning, I realized that I was feeling down not because they didn’t get the house; I was down because I had slipped out of Maybe.

The minute I started to believe my cousin needed this particular home for his happiness and well being, I had doomed myself to stress, fear and disappointment.  No matter what had happened, the house did not hold his happiness.  I fell out of Maybe because the bank’s rejection destroyed my high hopes and I interpreted that to mean my cousin’s dream of owning a nice home was no longer possible and what I wanted for him and his family could no longer be attained.  In reality, however, all that really happened is that life was not fitting into my plan, or my story for my cousin’s life. Once I opened my heart to Maybe again, I realized that there are always many more possibilities than the one we envision.

Just like I did with my cousin’s scenario, it is easy to slip out of Maybe on a daily basis.  How often, for instance, do we believe that we need to get a particular job or promotion for our lives to be going in the right direction? Or that a particular stock must go up for us to be financially secure, or that we need to land a particular client to further our careers?  How often have we yearned for a certain person to like us so we can be happy?  Story after story we tell ourselves, reinforcing the belief that life must unfold in certain ways to guarantee our well-being and success.  Logically, most of us would agree that there are many ways to achieve a particular goal, but emotionally we fail to live with this knowledge in our daily lives. When the emotional attachment to our stories defies logic, we fall into a trap. And stay there, and stay there.

For me, when I returned to Maybe, I realized that Maybe there are other homes to buy and other choices my cousin can make for him and his family.  As my cousin and I sat with all these possibilities today, our inner wisdom began to guide us to other ideas to qualify for the mortgage or to find another home.  In fact, there is a cheaper home down the same block that he had not considered because he thought it was too small.  We figured out today that Maybe it’s not too small after all.  We know we don’t have all the answers to help his situation, but we are open and hopeful that we will find his family an affordable home, good schools for his children and ways to reduce my cousin’s stress. In the land of Maybe, his options have no limits.

So today, try to list all the inner stories that you keep thinking what must occur in the future for your happiness and well being.  Do these stories about what needs to happen next in your life make you stressed or unhappy and are you losing sleep?  Now think to yourself: Maybe. Maybe this event will happen, or Maybe there is another way to achieve your goals or Maybe there is something else out there for you that you can’t see right now.  Let Maybe allow you the room to breathe and stretch and open up to all that is possible.

Let Maybe give you ground to stay hopeful until you find your way!


What Happens When We Are Willing To Wait For An Answer?


It can feel good to be able to answer “yes” or “no” to the questions about what we should do in life. It can feel good to be decisive and know exactly how we intend to resolve a problem or situation we are facing. Sometimes, however, the impulse to immediately decide “yes” or “no” to the everyday problems and situations that we face is more about playing it safe and clinging to certainty than it is about living life to the fullest.

This is why I love the idea of Maybe. Maybe allows us to contemplate the possibilities of life unfolding in many different ways without feeling the need for action the very minute a problem confronts us.  It allows us to pause and wonder if there is something else beyond what we are seeing in the moment. Maybe we have not explored how we can be more creative or more adventurous and maybe a problem can become the chance for a new direction. Maybe it is best to wait and let the situation unfold a bit more before acting in our accustomed ways.

After our pause we may come to the same “yes” and/or “no” conclusion or maybe we will try something new and it won’t work as well as we had hoped.  But MAYBE we will expand our lives and create new opportunities, meet someone new or just have an experience unlike any we have had before.

Maybe allows us to engage life full on because instead of looking only for what we “know” we expand our boundaries to an infinite playing field of all that can be. After all, are we really looking for certainty in our lives or are we looking to live a life of fulfillment, joy and abundance?

Just Maybe.

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Gambling on Maybe

There is a garage attendant downstairs where I live in New York City.  His name is Stan and we chat a few times a week about life and Maybe. When my book was complete and I sent it out to publishers, I gave Stan a copy.

He called me the next day yelling with great excitement:  “Allison I read your book!  Later I only had a few dollars in my pocket, and not even enough in the bank to buy gas for my car.  I thought to myself ‘Maybe’ and then I bought a lottery ticket. You would not believe it – I won 25 dollars and I put gas in my tank!  This is the first time in my life I ever won anything.” Stan’s story gave me pause, but I was still happy that he had such a positive experience using Maybe.

A few weeks later I got another call from Stan.  He won Lotto again, this time 400 dollars.  Now, I began to worry that Maybe had turned him into a gambler! Yes, winning Lotto is a possibility in the land of Maybe, but this is not what I had intended when I gave him the Book. I hoped Stan would stay open to Maybe and make some changes in his life, but not end up in Gamblers Anonymous!

I became concerned about Stan, and when I saw him a few days later I asked him what he learned from his experience with Maybe.   He responded, “Allison, are you worried that I have become a gambler? Don’t worry! The book and my experience with Maybe did not teach me to gamble, it taught me that life changes and I am never stuck. I realize that Maybe whatever is happening in my life is good, Maybe it will get better or Maybe I will find a way to be okay no matter what I am experiencing.  I opened up to life and life opened up to me by filling my gas tank. Now I hold Maybe with me everyday and I feel more is possible in my life even if I can’t see it in that moment. Who needs lotto tickets when I got Maybe!”

Just like Stan, as you experience the power of Maybe again and again, it will free you to explore the unknown with all its hope for a brighter future.  You can bet on it!

Ah, Maybe.

Living Before You Die

My client Caroline retired a few years ago and since then she has been very worried about her money and whether it will last for the rest of her life.  Her money is placed in what she believes to be conservative investments and she sticks to a budget the best that she can. However, her stress about not having enough money for the future persists and keeps her up at night.  She told me that she wants to enjoy her life but the fear of what may happen frightens her and keeps her from it.

During a recent meeting, I handed her the quote above from an interview with the Dalai Lama.  After reading it, tears began to roll down Caroline’s cheeks.  I asked her why she was crying and she told me, “I feel so relieved.  On some level I’ve been feeling that I have no right to be happy because my finances are not what they should be.  I should have saved more money and invested better and now I have less than all of my friends.  I am always afraid that one day I may have trouble paying my bills.  The stress and worry is also making me feel sick. But this quote jolted a realization in me that I am just wasting time.  I am wasting time worrying when I could be laughing with my grandchildren or playing cards with my friends.  I am acting like I am never going to die and I have been careless with the time I have left.   My circumstances are what they are and I don’t want to give up another day or my health worrying about a future that may never arrive.  There is so much I want to do and my fears of the future are holding me back.  I am still going to keep my investments and stay on my budget.  The difference now is that I am going to start living!”

I should have paid her for the session!