I was asked recently what I thought about positivity. At first I was a little confused. No one had asked me something like this before, it was kind of an odd question. When I asked her to explain the question again, she merely repeated, “What do you think about positivity?” I responded by saying I thought positivity is great and is the ultimate goal, but it’s more important to not get so caught up in trying to be positive that we don’t allow ourselves to experience and feel other emotions. This eventually just leads to anxiety and unhappiness.
We see it all the time, articles on the “key to happiness” or advertisements telling us what we should buy in order to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, happiness is a wonderful thing to strive towards, but I think people get happiness all wrong. It is not possible to be happy all the time. I don’t care how wonderful every aspect of your life is, you will not always be happy. The pictures and statuses you see on social media are a lie!
Our culture has this happiness obsession, but takes no time to find real, sustainable happiness. We get so fixated on what we need to make us happy. A bigger house, a better job, a relationship, then when we get it we still don’t feel happy. We begin to feel even worse because our perceived savior didn’t come through. I have the guy, the job, the house, why do I still feel like crap?
When we put base our happiness on something external, we will desire to be in control of that thing. When our new lover is supposed to make us happy, we will naturally want to control them. When our new job is supposed to bring us happiness, we will want to control all aspects of our experience at our new job. Now, can we realistically control our new partner or job? Absolutely not. Eventually something is going to happen that you dislike and you’re going to feel let down. On top of the disappointment, we probably will feel hopeless and out of control of our life. We wonder why we cannot find happiness and beat ourselves up for not making better decisions on where we should place our happiness. When we’re trapped in this cycle, we constantly are seeking favorable outcomes and feeling down and out about life when things don’t go our way. This is not the way to happiness.
Part of the secret of finding happiness is learning to go with the flow of life. If you’re upset or you’ve had a bad day, allow yourself to feel this. Take a minute to scream into your pillow or go on a run to clear your mind, but do not allow yourself to be consuming by negative emotions. Be in the moment and feel it in its entirety, then let negative emotions go. It’s a fine line, knowing when to feel and when to release, but it gets easier as time goes on.
In my life, I have often found that I treat others a lot better than I do myself at times. I comfort my friends whenever they need a shoulder to lean on and forgive quickly after disagreements, but don’t think to extend the same kindness to myself. Treat yourself as a friend if that makes it easier, it does for me anyway. Think about how you would treat your best friend if they came to you with an issue. Give yourself time to vent or cry, comfort yourself, but then tell yourself when it’s time to move on and dust yourself off again.
It is important to not allow the concepts of happiness that have been programed into our heads since birth destroy our real happiness. When we consider our happiest moments, when you were the highest on life, not on drugs (… sorry, I couldn’t resist). How did you feel in the moment and what was it that made you happy? More often than not, we were totally and completely in the moment. We weren’t worried about how happy we were or how long this would last. We were just in the moment, sharing a laugh with a loved one or playing with a pet. Or maybe we were watching the sunset alone. The situation doesn't matter, but I can almost guarantee that happiness was not felt by buying a bunch of stuff or by being in a relationship with someone that is in control of our happiness.
It’s the moments that we can stand back in awe of how awesome life can be. It’s those moments that we get emotional just thinking about how lucky we are to live these lives. Haven’t felt that before? Or maybe you want to get more of it? I did too, so I decided to get serious about getting happier.
After learning to accept that sometimes we are going to feel bad and knowing when to allow ourselves to sulk, there is a second step. Psst… lean in, here’s the big secret. You cannot be happy with life if you aren’t happy with yourself. We can distract ourselves with any number of things, but you cannot be happy with life if you don't like the person you are inside. Be real with yourself. Behind closed doors, when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, do you like the person you see staring back at you? No? Well, it’s fixable, but it takes work. We’ve got to do the inner work, and I mean work. Work your shit out and continue to work it out each day. It is a journey, not a destination.
When you make the decision that you want to feel happier and I mean swear on a holy book or your favorite pet’s grave that you want to be happier, the real work can begin. I started with a journal. I’ve been writing in it for two years now and it has saved my life. This is one of my favorite ways to track my patterns and emotions. Write both when you’re happy and sad. Write what happened and how you feel, then go back and study the triggers of your unhappiness.
A big source of my unhappiness was my insecurities. I had insecurities about my intelligence, my body, my personality, pretty much every aspect of myself. In truth, I didn’t like myself and I felt an impulse to hide from other people in order to feel safe. This lead to more unhappiness because... Um... Where are my friends? Oh, that’s right, I blew them off 10 times in a row in order to lay in bed and watch Netflix because I was feeling insecure about my body or my ability socialize with others that night. Well, I had to address this and learn to get over it if I wanted to be happy and although I've made awesome progress, my journey is not over. Work on yourself every day.
Write in a journal and track your feelings or emotions. Call yourself out when you’re making your happiness contingent on a specific outcome. Call yourself out when you’re letting your silly insecurities hold you back from living an awesome life. Do something cool for yourself like making a vision board and get moving towards those big goals of yours… today, not tomorrow. Don’t allow yourself to settle into what’s comfortable and forget that you’re still a work in progress. Learn and work. Happiness is a choice and will naturally result from showing love and kindness to ourselves (and others, but this comes naturally when you're happy) every day. Show some tough love when you need it too!
One that note, I leave you with this:
“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”
― Gautama Buddha
I love you all and hope this weekend is full of happy and soul lifting moments for you! Do me a huge favor, if you have time, and answer the poll on my home page. It's anonymous and the information will be used to help me get to know my readers and what you would like for me to write about in an upcoming blog.
Thank you for stopping by, see you next week!