My pursuit of Happiness
I’ve been reading self help books lately, most with the word “Happiness” in their title. I’ve had this nagging unhappiness most of my life. Even when I was happy, I’ve never felt a genuine sense of well being. So I set out on this journey about a year ago to pursue happiness, and wow, my journey has taken me through more dark valleys than I ever imagined. I thought surely by seeking new ways to be happy I would be happy. What I found however was a plethora of advice that just didn’t add up for me.
Professors of Happiness
There are so many happiness guru’s out there today, and while I’m thankful for them sharing their experiences of how they found happiness, I discovered it’s a very personal journey. There is no one program, no one self help book, no one counselor that can give you all the answers. Somewhere amongst all of these, you’ll have to figure out your own way and what works for you. So I”m not here to tell you the “right way” or the “only way” or the “perfect way” I”m just here to tell you what’s helping me to find more happiness in my everyday life in hopes that you may take a few ideas from me, add them in with your own ideas and it will equal out to be a better life for you.
My Ideas + Your Ideas = Happiness for you
What causes Unhappiness
One thing I needed to discover before I could find happiness was what exactly was causing my unhappiness. It seemed that there were very few times even when I felt very happy that I was genuinely happy. While I discovered many reasons that I won’t go into now, one of the things I found was that I had an overwhelming sense of never being quite good enough. There are many reasons why I’ve always had this nagging feeling, but I’m focusing on the present and in the present my feeling of not feeling good enough was caused solely from myself. I would see my adult children struggling and think, “I must have done something wrong raising them.” I went an entire year without speaking to one of my sisters and felt an enormous guilt about not being a good enough sibling. My business would go through a hard month and I’d blame myself for not being a good enough owner/coach/manager. I would gain a few pounds and feel not good enough to take pictures with my kids or just of myself. I think this feeling of never being quite good enough, no matter how good I really was, took away my happiness. In a book I read by Chris Prentiss titled “Zen and the Art of Happiness” he explained that what causes stress, anxiety and often depression are our thoughts. These emotions are caused because we think that an event in the future isn’t going to turn out well. Someone’s going to hurt us, we’re going to fail, we’re going to be embarrassed or ashamed or even hurt someone else. This worrying about the future takes away our happiness, causes sleepless nights, causes illness, causes us to live empty lives. I learned that my worries of not being good enough were senseless worries. I am good enough, I am good enough because I do my best, and that’s all I can do, the rest I have to let go, because I choose to live in this moment. I can’t go back and change the way I raised my children, I can’t take away the year I didn’t speak to my sister, I can’t totally control the fact that people enroll and un-enroll in my business, it’s just life. I can only control my thoughts right now at this moment. You see a pattern here? My feelings of unworthiness all stemmed from thinking about the past…
So….have I found Happiness
While I haven’t perfected the art of happiness, and I’m not sure I ever will, I can tell you that my life is changing for the better. At this time last month, probably even last week, I wouldn’t have written this blog because I’d worry that it wouldn’t be good enough, that someone would criticize me, that it wouldn’t make sense, etc. etc. This morning when I woke up, I had this on my mind. My intuition was telling me to share my experience with this subject and that is how I’m choosing to live, in the present moment. When I start to feel anxious I immediately realize it’s because I’m thinking about something later today or tomorrow or next week or next year, and I turn my thoughts instead to what needs to be done right now. I truly believe if that is our focus then we don’t need to worry about the future because we’re preparing for the best future in this moment.
Find your Happy
The best advice I can give you to get you on the right path to finding happiness is to take some time to figure out why you’re unhappy. I don’t want you to dwell on it too long, because if you start going back to your childhood and things that happened years and years ago you can wind up stuck in a muck that’s hard to dig out of. But instead, ask yourself, “Why am I unhappy today, why am I stressed, anxious, not feeling good enough, today?” Then go from there. I think you’ll find that your thoughts are not on the present, but they’re on the past or the future. Try today in just the little things to acknowledge what makes you smile, what warms your heart and what makes you happy. I woke up this morning alone, the sun was shining, I got to have my coffee in silence, I got to spend two hours writing with no one asking me for anything, it made me happy. After I finish this blog I have to get to work on some accounting for my business, but I chose to not think or stress about that while I was writing this, because I knew it would cause me anxiety. Practice staying present today, then practice it again tomorrow and the next day until it becomes a habit. There are going to be times of stress and anxiety and unhappiness, it’s inevitable, but when those moments come, handle them for what they are: The way you react to the stressors, the anxiety, the feelings of unhappiness or unworthiness make all the difference. When I have those feelings of not being good enough, and I do still have them, I just pause for a moment, remind myself that I’m good enough right now, I’m the doing the best I can right now, and that’s got to be good enough, cause it’s all I’ve got, that’s all we’ve all got, Right Now….
Peace & love & happiness to you
Cause I’m not there yet, but perhaps, Soon Enuff……
A little poem I wrote about getting thru nights of anxiety and over thinking. I’m getting better and better at this and I hope you will as well.