I used to believe that one of the reasons I was not ‘happy’ was because I did not know what would actually make me happy.
Of course, I knew all of the things that made me feel sad, disappointed, angry and stressed out. Those things I could rattle off like an expert when asked or slip them into any conversation surrounding the ‘What I do not want in my life’ list.
Yet, for all that I knew with pinpoint laser clarity what I did NOT want; ironically, I had no idea what I actually wanted in my life.
This was a hard lesson in realizing that just because I knew what I no longer wanted to feel, did not immediately translate into what I longed to experience and feel.
In fact if anything, this knowledge led me to realize that I was riddled with doubt, fear and anxiety over the possibility of good-great- things occurring in my life, without struggle, without pain, without agonizing disappointment.
And to top this amazing sundae off, in this mindset of fear and scarcity I refused to allow myself to think of a world where my life was smooth sailings and do you know why?
It was because I was unsure.
I was now so lost and deep in the state of fear as a lifestyle that I legit could not fathom a world that was better for me. Sure I could imagine nice homes, making money consistently and in high quantity, but it was harder to dispend my belief any of that could happen to me.
This lead me further down a downward spiral, where I simply was unsure of myself, and my place in this vast world.
I was still unsure about how I wanted to spend my days, of what would really give me pleasure, make me smile and just give me that boost of joyousness those High vibe people were talking about over the internet.
I wanted to be happier, to believe that I could do what I had secretly been craving to do and make a wonderful living from it.
I wanted to believe these good things could happen for me as well, that there could be a day I woke up and the first thing to come to my mind was ‘I’m so happy to experience this day’, rather than a deluge of to-do errands and feelings of inadequacy, but I simply had no idea how to even start the process or if I had what it took to make it manifest.
The first step in my journey towards self-happiness came when one day I caught myself actively dismissing something that would have actually made me feel better and the realization startled me.
Here’s why I was so shook: This incident made me acknowledge that I was wrong in my first hypothesis.
It was not that I did not know what would make me smile, or illicit that feeling of joyous happiness, rather, the issue was that I was actively burying them and choosing to not take action towards doing the things that invoked those happy feelings.
I was basically throwing away my good feelings and choosing to not delve into them, because I was too busy in the throes of regret, dread and fear.
In that particular incident, I had no choice but to acknowledge that I had chosen to not feel better because I had decided it was an inappropriate time. I was fighting tooth and nail for my limitations and could only accept feeling good, or boosting my mood if something huge had happened, or all the stars had aligned.
Let me tell you what a mind-frick it was to realize that I was so attuned to feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, etc that I had conditioned myself into believing that they were my default settings.
I had conditioned myself to seek out those feelings and to disregard the ones that lead to a different path, only allowing them in, if I subconsciously knew they would lead me to those ‘negative’ feelings again.
Yup, I had to look in the mirror and acknowledge that what I had become was a fear junkie.
And it felt bad- duh- but it also liberated me enough to allow me some control over my life, because now I knew for certainty that if I could choose to feel bad about myself, if I could choose to box away ‘feel good’ emotions, then I could do the reverse and live happily!
What it would take is some lessons in mindfulness- so I became aware of what I was doing and when I was choosing to feel crappy over feeling at peace – and it would mean learning to shift my mindset from fear junkie to someone who lived her life from a place of love and happiness instead.
I’ll level with you on my previous concept of happiness. It went like this: For me, it felt like the concept of happiness in my life was just easier to deal with and swallow if I allowed myself to think of it only as a ‘pipe-dream’. A thing I could fantasize about, but did not in my wildest dreams even dared to believe could be achievable to yours truly.
If I convinced myself that happiness was a conditional construct, then when things got rough- as they invariably do, then I could use this emotion as a cop out and something to day dream about, instead of actually pursuing it in this real life.
This allowed me a secret fail-safe when I was in difficult situations, meaning I could say, ‘this sucks because I’m not happy. I just want to be happy,” even as I know full well, I am not doing anything to truly change the direction of my downward spiral.
What I’ve learnt since I have started practicing more mindfulness and not running away from my mind is that happiness is not a one-off kind of thing and it does not require the kind of ‘efforting’ I once believed it would.
I legit thought I’d have police myself and dream big, then have to find a new technique to deal with the inevitable let down of things still sucking, while being accused of not taking anything seriously.
I also learnt that living a happy lifestyle does not negate over emotions or situations. In fact you can live a very happy life and still get upset and angry about things, no matter how trivial, but the real difference when that happens in you mindset- your perception and your response to them.
For me this manifested in me becoming more appreciative of the skills I am learning and improving on, rather than bitching about how slow I’m taking to learn them.
From what I’ve seen as I investigated the possibility of living a happy lifestyle, genuinely happy people know that they will feel what they feel, and they know that these emotions are not there to derail them, rather to show them what the situation they are experiencing means to them.
They see emotions and situations as neutral constructs there to provide them with information and then they choose how best to respond, react or experience them.
They have a brighter outlook on life because they are enjoying the experience of being alive, rather than getting back on the endless hamster wheel of grinding.
They know that happiness is a choice and they make it with every option they are offered.
I won’t lie, it’s a process, one that takes mindfulness work to know the difference between being happy and projecting happiness with spiraling and feeding your fear addiction.
I can admit now that the idea of happiness was something I was straight up afraid to believe could be real, because I was too busy looking at how far a drop I’d be flung after rising to such glorious peaks.
So to console myself I decided to focus on the harshness of the world and told myself I could never reach those peaks anyway.
The truth I’ve allowed myself to acknowledge is that sometimes to really reach that plane of Zen; we do have to go through some painful trials as we heal from the inside by resolving the limiting beliefs and bone deep unresolved issues from our own childhood and young adulthood.
I’ve noticed that many of us humans, choose to live on the precipice of living our ‘best life’, because we are simply terrified of the crushing pain of what would happen if the other shoe dropped and something simply took our happiness away.
Once again, let me reiterate that true happiness is a decision and it is a mindset and there is no other shoe to drop- it is literally just what you decide.
I live everyday reminding myself that I get to choose how my overall feelings about my day will be. I get to choose if one person can ruin my whole mood or if I’ll allow myself to be angry over the situation and then realize ‘hey, I want to feel much better’ and take the time to re-center myself.
I get to decide who and what has that much control and power in my own life and I have made that decision.
It’s me. I decide that my life can get better and better, that my life can be more and more fun- that fun is necessary for my well being and it’s ok to indulge often.
I get to decide who I am minute by minute, hour by hour and I get to know that my happy life is something that I am building with appreciation for what I have now, what I’m experiencing and learning and gratitude for what is still to come.
No longer do I deprive myself of happiness, because being happy is my new default settings.