“I just want to be happy!”
Does this sound familiar? I hear these words all the time from my clients and from, well, everyone. You just want to be happy. Right? I do too. Even Thomas Jefferson and the other writers of the Declaration of Independence recognized the importance of the pursuit of happiness.
So you strive to be happy. Yet, it seems that happy has become the end all solution to life. If I could just do this or be that or have those, I would be happy. It is a destination that never seems to come no matter how hard you try.
What is happiness?
In order to pursue happiness, you first need to know what it is you are after.
Happy is an emotion. It is something you feel when something good is happening. This is not the happy that lasts.
Emotions are temporary. No matter how much you try, you cannot hold onto one emotion for very long. They just don’t last. You will soon shift into another emotion. This often happens very quickly.
Imagine this: you just won the lottery. Suddenly, you’re a millionaire! You’re happy, right? Of course you are. Probably ecstatic! Suddenly life seems easier; you have money. It’s a very exciting occasion indeed.
However, a moment later you have a hundred best friends! They all want a piece of your money. Your friends and family start asking for loans. You start to think all they want you for is your money. Now how do you feel? Angry? Hurt?
Feeling happy is now replaced with your new emotion (which will also be temporary). It isn’t that the happy feeling went away. When you think about the money in your pocket and all the wonderful plans you have for it, that happy feeling may return. Yet as soon as that long lost cousin asks for another loan, the anger returns.
Your emotion of happy is coupled with the circumstances and your thoughts and beliefs about the situation. It is also dependent on your past experiences, how you feel about yourself, the people around you, and even the world. In other words, emotions are temporary and they are based on several factors. Emotions are complex. One emotion is there one moment and then gone the next. Imagine how many emotions you cycle through in one day.
What else is Happy?
Happy is a state of being.
I absolutely believe that every person has the capacity to be in a state of happy. This is an underlying feeling of happy, of good – good about yourself, good about others, and good about the world. However, if you are counting on happiness as a permanent emotion that fills your days to the end of your life, you will surely be disappointed.
Even when you reach the state of happiness, you will still feel sad, angry, hurt, and scared. You will still feel all the emotions you have now. You can’t get rid of them. Ever. No matter how hard you try or how much you avoid them. In fact, avoiding them just makes them worse!
Reaching your goal of happy must come with all the other feelings and the other emotions may be the path to happiness!
Why are you not in a state of happy right now? Probably because you have problems and issues that keep you from feeling happy. Those problems come from your internal feelings about yourself. You binge and purge and engage in all those behaviors that you hate yourself for because you feel bad about yourself inside. Going into those emotions and allowing yourself to feel them will help you to reach the desired state of happiness because it is through that work that you will release the shame and start to feel good about yourself again.
If you resist those feelings, you will be caught in a state of constantly wanting happiness but never reaching it. This state is much more painful than just allowing yourself to feel whatever emotion you feel.
Therefore, the moral of this story is… allow yourself to have your feelings and you will reach the state of happy that you so desire.
This week, pay attention to your emotions and notice how quickly they change. Give yourself that gift of recognizing that whatever you feel will pass. So if you feel an emotion you don’t like, stick with it and it will pass. If you allow that to happen, you may even feel happy after it is over. It is the release of those emotions that leads you to feel relief and, yes, even happy.