To achieve true happiness, you must first eliminate negativity.
I am not feeling happy today. Why? There is no obvious reason. I could search and find reasons for my mood, but today I will accept it as is and allow it to pass. I know that tomorrow, or maybe even later today, I will feel happier, back to my normal level of contentment. So I can allow myself to feel unhappy, and at the same time, not let it get me down. I can be gentle with myself, while I am feeling unhappy. I can allow what I feel to be for awhile without rushing to positive affirmations to force my feelings to change.
As a child, I was a shy, but I think I was pretty happy. As a teenager, I know I was unhappy, and I know the older I got, the unhappier I felt. Why? What changed? First, many life circumstances changed. When I was 11, my parents broke up, and although I knew the breakup was a good thing, it changed my life in many ways. Mom had to work to support my sister and me. She seemed pretty unhappy, and I rarely saw my dad. I remember feeling very lonely and had to struggle with anger and depression all on my own. I remember wanting so badly to be loved, and when I met my future husband, I thought our relationship was the answer to my unhappiness. Of course, I soon discovered that a relationship was not the answer. The happiness of romance does not last. Before long, I found myself back in my old familiar misery, but with an extra heap of blame towards my partner for not living up to the expectation and dream I held for happiness.
When I started university as a young newlywed, I studied therapies for depression. The most effective techniques help clients identify and change their negative thoughts. That was the true beginning for finding happiness. I've spent the last 33 years pursuing happiness and inner contentment. I am happy to report great progress. One profound realization was that it is necessary to follow our passion or fulfill our life's purpose. I had put mine on hold to raise a family, and noticed a great shift when I took a leap of faith and finally became a therapist.
Here are some of my most valuable lessons around happiness:
- It is our own negative thinking that creates our unhappiness. It is the belief that things should be different than they are that creates our suffering.
- It doesn't help to blame others, so when we notice we are blaming someone else, that is an opportunity to look within at how we are making ourselves unhappy.
- Creativity is born of pain; there is value in our life drama. People think they do not like drama, but we actually thrive on it. Think about gossip, books, movies, songs and even Facebook.
- When we are at our lowest we naturally want to reach out for help, from others or from God. This allows us to experience Love and Connection we might not otherwise seek.
I am happy to say that I have moved from being a negative thinker to a more positive and grateful thinker. I now see life events differently as they unfold. I see life lessons and growth challenges versus punishment or catastrophe. Also, I have gotten to know my emotional ups and downs; I know that it is okay and normal to have ups and downs, and that they are unavoidable. The important thing is to find peace and contentment in between them.