We all want to be happy, right? But being happy can seem elusive. It’s like nailing jello to a tree…trying to be happy just tends to make happiness slip through our fingers…or our thoughts…or blow away like feathers on a breeze.
I need a new car. I go out shopping for a new car after I figure out what I can afford. I make a new car purchase based on what I need, what I can afford, what I want, and what is available. I’m happy with my purchase. Contented. Satisfied that I met my need. Then, the first car payment comes. Suddenly, I’m not so happy. The first flat tire comes, I’m not elated. The first dent happens. The car isn’t making me happy anymore. See? It is transitory.
1. Practice gratitude. Being grateful for what we already have decreases the tendency to always be striving for more. Sheryl Crow said it in her song “I’m Gonna Soak Up the Sun”: ‘It ain’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you got.’ When we practice gratitude for what we already have, happiness is more likely to hang around.
2. Learn to like (even better, love) who you are, right here, right now. This is similar to number one above. But it’s also different. Many people postpone happiness, telling themselves that they’ll be happy when they lose weight, find a partner, buy a house, etc…. But nothing makes being happy harder than telling yourself you are not OK. If you work on accepting who you are right now, flaws and all, and loving where you are in your life, you will find happiness that seems to just burst from the walls. It’s there, it is just waiting for you to stop “shoulding” all over yourself.
3. Recognize that being happy, and having joy are two different things. I need to thank a client for this insight. He reminded me of this in a session earlier today. As spiritual beings, joy is our birthright. When we are in touch with our true nature, joy is always there. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, that comes and goes of its own accord. You can be unhappy because of circumstances that are troublesome, and still be in touch with the innate joy of your spiritual self. This takes practice. Meditation, prayer, mindfulness practice, gratitude practice all are avenues of connecting with your joy. Being happy includes not confusing happiness (fleeting) with joy (normal state of spiritual awareness). Do not be fooled into thinking happiness is supposed to be a constant.
4. When you aren’t happy, give yourself permission to feel whatever is there. This goes along with #2 pretty closely. It connects with self acceptance and self-love. If you are sad, let yourself be sad. Feelings have an annoying habit of lingering around the more we try to ignore them. Let yourself fully feel what you feel. Give yourself permission to be fully human, and know that whatever you are feeling, it will be different in a few minutes, or a few days, or a week. Accept yourself, including your emotions, in the here and now. If you have trouble doing this, you may need some help with the reality that there are no bad emotions, only bad actions. You can be angry without hurting others. You can be sad without blaming others. If you have trouble with this, you may need some help learning to separate feelings from actions.
5. Don’t worry, be happy. Worrying about things that are out of your control contributes to discontent and unhappiness. If you have no immediate ability to change something, stop worrying about it. This includes loved ones who aren’t living their life the way you think they should. Stop “shoulding” on your loved ones. Stop imagining that things should be different from they are. And please, stop worrying. You’ll live longer, smiling more often.
If you need help with any of these five methods of finding more happiness, call me at: 831-214-8087.