It took a long time before I was able to talk about the 2009 Grey Cup game without getting too misty eyed or needing some form of sedation. It was November 29th, the Grey Cup game in Calgary. The Saskatchewan Roughriders v.s. The Montreal Alouettes. The party was in full swing at our house with all 16 of us decked out in Rider green. Our beloved Riders were playing their hearts out. Rookie quarterback Darian Durant was managing the ball like a seasoned veteran. The Riders surprised everyone with a 16 point lead. But, don't count the Alouettes out, they managed to claw and scratch their way back into contention. With one second on the clock, the score was 25-27 for the Riders. It was all coming down to a 43 yard Alouette field goal attempt to win the game. A country watched from the edge of their seats. Montreal snaps the ball, the kick is up...it's going wide. I hurdled myself two feet in the air and bellowed "The Riders won the Grey Cup". As my feet hit the ground I heard my brother yell...."FLAG!!!". I'll spare you having to relive the final nitty-gritty details. The game was over. The Riders had lost. We all sat there with blank stares, "what just happened here?" Minutes later, our company left, my wife Darci hurried our kids upstairs for bed and the party was over...it was so over. Thoughts raced through my mind... "why didn't they go for the touchdown at the end of the first half"..."how could we squander a 16 point lead"..."13 men on the field, what a cruel irony." I sat there for quite a while dwelling and stewing about what had just happened. Then, a little voice in the back of my mind said, "Darren, buddy, what do you talk about for a living?" Ah yes, the "Key Questions". In my sessions, I share a tool called the "Key Questions". It's a simple tool to help calm your stressed out thinking and the negative effect of stress on your body. It works like this, whenever you feel your thoughts going south and your stress switch engaging ask yourself two "Key Questions": 1. What's a better way to think about this? 2. What can I do about this? When you ask yourself the "Keys Questions", you make a choice to choose your response to a situation, rather than just leaving your thinking or actions on autopilot and dwelling on an issue. Also, when you pose one of the key questions to yourself, you will find your mind goes to work on looking for an answer. You know something, there is always a more positive perspective, some meaning or a lesson learned in any situation. When you look for a more positive viewpoint it helps to disengage your bodies stress switch and reduces the impact of stress on your body. As I sat in my basement after the big loss, my response to the Key Question "What's a better way to think about this?" went something like this..."You know what, the Riders had a pretty good year, I honestly thought they were going to finish 3rd or 4th in their division and we finished 1st for the first time in 33 years. We have a great young quarterback who wants to be here and I think next year could shape up to be a pretty fun year." As I walked up the stairs to go to bed, I was actually starting to feel excited about my brother and I renewing our season tickets for the 26th straight year (lightweights by Rider fan standards). The "Key Questions" were helping me to move my thinking in a more positive direction. I wasn't thinking anything that wasn't true, I was simply making the choice to focus on a better set of facts.
Quote to Ponder: I'll be happy when...." is the way many people think they are living their lives. Yet, happiness is not something that happens to you. Happiness is inside you now. " - John Agno