I used to believe that one of the reasons I was not ‘happy’ was because I did not know what would make me actually happy.
I knew of all the things that would make 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 in my life, I had no idea what I truly did.
I was still unsure about how and what I wanted to spend my days, I was unsure 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.
Then I realised with a start one day, as I caught myself actively dismissing something that would have actually made me feel better, that it was not that I did not know what made me smile, or made me happy… it was that I was actively burying them and choosing to not take action towards doing the things that invoked those happy feelings.
For me and when I asked, a lot more people, it seemed as if the concept of ‘Happiness‘ was easier to deal with if we allowed it to be a pipe-dream. If we convinced ourselves that happiness was conditional, then when things got rough, we could use this emotion as a cop out and something to day dream about .
To say, ‘this sucks because I’m not happy. I just want to be happy,” even as we know full well we’re not going to truly put in the effort to actually put true happiness into our lives.
Happiness is not a one-off kind of thing, it’s a state of being and it does not negate other emotions. You can be living a very happy life and still get upset or angry about things – trivial or otherwise…, the real difference is your mindset.
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I remember the first time I did something I was afraid to do and was still afraid of even as I did it. I remember the first time I jumped into the deep end into cold uncharted waters, on purpose.
It was one of the first swimming lessons I had as a teen and I remember being super excited and at the same time scared of the unknown because I was very new to swimming in general.
I, like most islanders love the sea and love to frolic in the turquoise waters however, we never venture further than where our feet could firmly be planted on the shifting sands, because ironically most of us can’t swim, or at least swim well.
So there I was with my class-mates who had all signed up for swimming as our P.E elective. I was one of the shorter ones in the group and while I loved and was drawn to the cold, beautifully blue, pool water my anxiety sky rocketed when our Coach marched us straight past the kiddie pool- my comfort zone- and over to the ‘Adult pool’ as we had christened the Olympic sized, competitive pool.
And I thought I was going to throw up, when she lined us all up at the deepest end of the pool and grabbed a long pole with a hook at the end, looking at us with a slightly mischievous smile on her face. I tried to listen to her instructions, but my heart was beating way too loudly when I heard her explain that we would be jumping into the deep waters of the pool, one by one and touching the floor of the pool.
She told us that it would be safe and would help us to get more comfortable in the water. I heard her words, but really I was overcome by my own brain screaming at me to turn tail and run away.
I stayed. I stayed and watched as one after the other, my class mates jumped into the water. I watched as they became submerged blurs and then popped back up, only to be scooped to safety by our Coach, or guided to the stairs.
All too soon it was my turn. I was the last. Dammit.
So I walked to the edge of the pool, feeling my poor heart try to lurch away from the sure danger that was me about to jump into the deep end of this water, knowing I couldn’t even thread water, even as I knew I had a safety line.
And then I was jumping.
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My heart frozen by my brazen actions and then I was submerged by the cold water. And I could not touch the bottom. We all held onto the hook of the pole as we got into the water, and in that moment, when I realized that I was too short to touch the bottom, and that the water was pushing me back up, I made an executive decision.
I let go of the hook- my one safety line- and pushed myself to the bottom of the pool. Touched the tiles and then jumped to get to the hook again.
In that moment of snap decision, it was no longer about my fear; it was about proving to myself that I could do this thing. It was showing myself that I was safe, that my trust in myself and my coach was not unfounded. It was to show myself that I could follow through.
My coach was impressed by my determination, if a bit scared by my decision.
And I felt lighter than I had ever felt in a really long time in my young life. I felt buoyant and I felt fearless but mostly, I felt inspired.
There have been many times since that clear and defining moment in my life, where I felt again like I was on the precipice of jumping into the deep end. And I have not always been ready for it, because I what I knew about what would happen if I did.
I knew that jumping in meant change. It meant that no matter what happened, good or bad, I would no longer be the same person I was at the moment just before I jumped.
I hesitated a lot, because I could see the waters, be them still and deep or, rolling with waves, I knew that once I jumped in, I would have to make a decisions about my survival, and I would have to take action to live and in doing this, I would have to grow, I would have to be better and I would have to make it all the way to the other side no matter what.
So sometimes I stay on the precipice and just look at the water beneath me. I allow the fear to grip me, to hold me and encourage me to rethink my life decisions. I stay looking at the water and fearing all that it would mean, because I’m afraid to take that next step, life line or no.
And in those moments, where I feel trapped, stuck and paralyzed, I force myself to remember the times that I was brave enough to let go of the safely line and achieve my goal, even though it was my first time in the deep end and I remember that I survived it all. I remember that in those moments of calm and trust that I would not only survive, but I’d blossom and it would be ok.
It would be ok, to allow myself that change, that metamorphosis and as sacred of the plunge and all that it would mean, I would be free.
And it’s enough to challenge my initial fear, enough for me to assess my own self- trust levels, my own belief that I have done enough due diligence to make sure it is safe to jump…enough to take a deep breath and dive right in!
What about you?
Do you have those moments where you are afraid to dive into a new idea, a new goal, a decision that will impact you way of life?
Do you remember anytime in your life where you were brave enough to dive in and fierce enough to decide that no matter what you’d survive, that you’d flourish?