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You Can Do The Carlton Dance

Before we start, a quick reminder that the next LIVE WEBINAR is this Sunday October 1st at 8am on Freeing up time and energy to pursue the goals that matter to you. Register using this link.

I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I modelled my whole being on Will. I tried to talk like Will, make jokes like Will, dance like Will and even shake hands like Will. There is one thing I could never master from that show. The Carlton dance. The arms, the hips, the feet, the face and the hands all moving in perfect synchrony always seemed out of reach. Alfonso Ribeiro unashamedly admits that it is not a hard dance but, you need to be able to ‘”dislocate your limbs to do it”.

As I write my first book, Do Happy, I have been speaking at various events and organisations to spread its message and pressure test the principles. I recently spoke in front of more than 100 people at Light Up Minds which was organised by the Sakya Youth Group. Besides spreading the message, I had this overwhelmingly irrational desire to somehow incorporate the Carlton dance. Chaos was the result. It was epic.

First, we worked our way towards the core principle of the Do Happy framework.

You can’t control how you feel but, you can control what you DO.

Happiness is generally defined as a positive emotional state or feeling characterised by joy, contentment, life satisfaction, fulfillment and peace. It’s a great definition. Is it useful? No.

Feelings are fleeting. If you define happiness as a feeling, it also becomes fleeting. Happiness should be a constant. The way we make it a constant is by viewing happiness not as a feeling, but as something that we DO.

What if instead of trying to feel happy, we DO happy? #DoHappy

We explored the rules of the game (See Figure 1).
1) What we feel, affects what we think.  
2) What we feel, affects what we do.  

The cool bit.  
3) What we think, affects what we feel.  
4) What we think, affects what we do.  

The extra cool bit. 
5) What we do, affects what we feel. 
6) What we do, affects what we think.  

In other words, what we FEEL, what we THINK and what we DO are all linked and each of them affect each other.

Although our feelings, thoughts and actions are all linked, they are not created equally. The distinguishing factor is control.

Can you control what you FEEL?
No. Tell a sad person to feel happy. Tell a happy person to feel angry. What happens? If we could control our feelings, there wouldn’t be a mental health epidemic.

If we could control our feelings, there wouldn’t be a mental health epidemic.

Can you control what you THINK?
Yes, to some extent. I asked the attendees to picture a fluorescent pink elephant wearing a Sri Lankan cricket top. Everyone pictured this beautiful specimen. You are probably doing the same right now! The ability to change your thinking is a form of ‘doing’ that I call psychological action.

Can you control what you DO?
Welcome, the Carlton dance.

Everyone stood up in nervous anticipation. First, I showed them how to move their arms. We then added some simple side step foot movements. The final step was to sprinkle a smidgeon of swag. Voila! The Carlton dance.

It was time. Suddenly, Tom Jones’ “It’s not unusual” started blaring from the speakers. Hilarious chaos ensued.

Photo credit: Dushmantha from DBeatlePhotography

We learnt two things.

  1. You can control what you DO.
  2. No one can actually do the Carlton dance, unless you are Alfonso Ribeiro.

After the session, a university student introduced themselves to me and expressed concerns about exam stress.

Student: I am feeling really stressed with exams coming up.

Dr G: What’s going through your head i.e. what are you thinking?

Student: I just don’t want to fail and repeat the year.

Dr G: It sounds like you are not only feeling stressed, you are also thinking stressed. What are you doing about this stress?

Student: I am trying to do some practice exams but I keep procrastinating.

Dr G:  So not only are you are feeling and thinking stressed, you are also doing stressed.

Student: Hmmm, yes I guess so.

Dr G: What would you rather feel?

Student: Confident.

Dr G: What would a confident version of you do?

Student: Practice exams.

Dr G: Then get to work! You can’t control how you feel, but you can do the Carlton dance.

Student: I love that!

If you enjoyed this article, SHARE this with at least one person who can benefit from it.

P.S I talk about the nuances of concepts like this in my LIVE webinar series every Sunday at 8am. The next LIVE WEBINAR is THIS SUNDAY OCTOBER 1st at 8am on Freeing up time and energy to pursue the goals that matter to you. Register using this link.

Much love to you and of course myself,

Dr G (The Fresh Prince – the nickname that never stuck)

#DoHappy #DoHappyBOOK

If you want to find out more about coaching, email me at
Download my whitepaper on work-life balance here.
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