Sunday, 12 July 2009

Be Happy!

Your Basic Human Rights

I recently ran a Maximising Happiness evening in the South of France for some expat friends (it began as workshops about having happier relationships but that quickly changed to all things happiness). We began with some exploration of the impact of assertiveness on happiness, and in particular knowing what our basic rights are. I ran through a list of basic human rights and we identified the ones that we have most difficulty in accepting, either in ourselves or in others. It proved to be an interesting exercise and led to quite a few of us talking further about the difficulties for some in saying no, for some in accepting unfounded opinions and for others to permit their loved ones to say no too!

Here's the list. See if there are any that you have difficulty with:

1. ___ to be treated as an equal, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or disability

2. ___ to be treated with respect as a capable human being

3. ___ to decide how to spend my time

4. ___ to ask for what I want

5. ___ to ask for feedback on things such as my performance, behaviour and image

6. ___ to be listened to and taken seriously

7. ___ to hold political beliefs

8. ___ to cry

9. ___ to make mistakes

10. ___ to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty

11. ___ to state my needs

12. ___ to set my own priorities

13. ___ to express my feelings

14. ___ to say ‘Yes’ for myself without feeling selfish

15. ___ to change my mind

16. ___ to fail occasionally

17. ___ to have an opinion

18. ___ to say “I don’t understand”

19. ___ to make statements with no logical basis and which I do not have to justify

20. ___ to ask for information

21. ___ to be successful

22. ___ to adhere to my own set of values

23. ___ to take time to make decisions

24. ___ to express my beliefs

25. ___ to take responsibility for my own decisions

26. ___ to have privacy

27. ___ to admit “I don’t know”

28. ___ to change / develop as a human being

29. ___ to choose whether or not to get involved in other people’s problems

30. ___ to decline to be responsible for someone else’s problems

31. ___ to look after my own needs

32. ___ to have space and time to be alone

33. ___ to be an individual

34. ___ to ask for information from professionals

35. ___ not to be dependent on others’ approval

36. ___ to be the judge of my own worth

37. ___ to choose how to behave / respond in a given situation

38. ___ to be independent

39. ___ to be me; not the person others want me to be

40. ___ not to assert myself

(adapted from the list provided in Assertiveness Training – A Sourcebook of Activities, by Sue Bishop (1995) Kogan Page)

Try to identify areas where you are not asserting your rights; or where you are being held back; or maybe even manipulated by others. This will be more difficult than you think and maybe you assert your rights with some but not with others. Equally if you find yourself pushing others to give up some of their basic rights then it might be time to take a step back and figure out other ways of coming to agreement. It is an important aide memoire for establishing where you need to concentrate on developing new and improved happiness skills!

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