It's time to stop living for other people.
My ex husband got married last week. People ask me if that upsets me, and the answer is no. We have nothing in common anymore, except co parenting our adult offspring. And actually? I hope this union will create happiness for him. I want that because I believe happy people treat their children with greater generosity, and that abundance of happy is good for everyone.
Within all of us, we have a desire to do our "bit" for humanity. Well here is a chance to do a whole lot of good, while dispelling that obnoxiously omnipresent idea that life is miserable. Still not convinced? What if your happiness, or the happiness of your ex could cure the world's ills? Would you be willing to engage?
How does happy "happen"? Here's a clue: the first four letters of "happy" and "happen" are the same. This clues us in that the emotion is something we have to create — consciously, because your mood is a choice. (What a novel idea, right? We certainly harbor the belief that we are not responsible for our moods; that they're solely a product of our environments. So not true!) I think we actually have a lot to do with how we feel, if we are willing to let go of our old "what has always been done" patterns.
Just like being happy, feeling sad or sorry for the way things are is a choice too. Now, embracing your feelings is healthy, whether they be based in pain, anger or joy. Identify where the negativity makes itself present in your body and then let that feeling just exist as you breathe into it. If it hurts, acknowledge that and give the feeling room to express and expel itself. Because that's the goal: You want to rid yourself of the "bad" emotion by actively feeling it. When you shush your feelings or those of your loved ones, they get buried in your cells. They don't magically disappear; they stay in your body, create disease and lower your sense of happy. Buried feelings keep you in misery as you blame others and feel manipulated. Not conducive to embracing the happy!
Holding on to negative feelings because they feel familiar and safe are actually dangerous. It can cause you to explode at the smallest thing. You have control over the weight you carry, and you don't need to be the butler of the universe, pretending all is well, or that you agree with something that ticks you off. Again, this keeps you in a cycle of embracing the unhappy.
When I was married to my ex, we wore both living on the edge of mad. Tempers would erupt at a pin drop; we blamed each other constantly and could not see past that cloud of resentment. If I said the "wrong" thing my ex could explode, but I was no angel either — all I knew about relationships I learned in kindergarten. So we tried to make nice and pretend that nothing was wrong. Only problem is that crap never works. I smiled till my jaw ached, then sulked or slammed doors out of the public eye. I was a three-year-old playing grownup because I didn't know how to embrace and release negativity. I wanted to be happy but I thought if I let others dictate what they wanted, all would be well.
When I finally went from playing doormat to facing my despair and owning my part in the equation, it was too late for our relationship. But it was not too late for me — and it isn't too late for you. Somewhere in that misery of fighting, making up, placating and explosions, I realized I wanted a simple life. One where I could be honest with myself and the people in my circle without doing stuff that made me miserable. I realized that was what would make me happy!
So I gave myself permission to get real. I remember being gobsmacked when I learned that we all have a choice: happy or miserable. If you decide on happy, it's going to take a little work on your part — but it's fun work. Grab a piece of paper and write down five things that make you happy; easy things like "smiling". Try smiling without feeling a little bit of bliss. It's pretty hard! Keep reading ...
More on how to be happy from YourTango:
- Happiness Happens: 20 Tips To Increase Your Happiness
- How To Be Happy With Yourself: 5 Must-Read Tips
- How To Deal With Depression After Divorce: 5 Actionable Tips