Thursday, November 30, 2017
Learning to be Happy and Living Whole-Heartedly
I’ve had a number of conversations lately about being happy, finding happiness, choosing happiness. Some people seem to be born happy and are able to carry that throughout life. Others are born under a cloud, or their early experiences cause them to bury their emotions, and they learn to act as they believe others want them to. And it doesn’t matter where they came from. Those who come from wealthy families can have just as many issues as those who are poor.
This isn’t about blame. It’s not finding fault with our upbringing. It’s not about hiding or brushing off our true feelings. I don’t know if all babies are born happy. (I kind of think not, but as I have no memory of birth, I don’t know for sure.) For most, happiness is learned. It’s how each of us encompasses what we are taught into our own selves. True self happiness becomes mixed with what others expect of us: parents, family, teachers, friends and peers. There are rules and ethics and morals, right and wrong. Do this, don’t do that. Money is often a big issue.
Then there is the media telling us what we need to make us happy. Oh, those Sears Christmas catalogs when we were kids! The commercials on TV pounding into us all the time how we need this or that. So-and-so getting some fabulous toy or snowmobile or iPhone, and we want one, too. Even with how we look is questioned and commented on, and we’re always made to feel less than. When does it stop?
It stops with individual choice. It stops when we make the decision to not have what everyone else has. It stops when we realize stuff only makes us feel happy for a few moments. It stops when we stop listening to commercials. It stops when we stop going out of our way to please others to the extent of our own wellbeing and happiness.
It comes down to deciding for ourselves what makes us happy. We have to find that piece deep inside us that feels true joy and satisfaction. Deep inside is the key. Yes, we love our families and they make us happy – because it’s love and that’s good. But happiness goes beyond family and friends. Happiness goes beyond having what you want. Happiness has an inner glow, a vibrance. It’s a passion for what’s good and beautiful.
Happiness sometimes comes at a high price. Maybe a lot of it comes with wisdom, when we are older. Maybe it’s when we realize that a lot of what we used to believe isn’t so true anymore. Perhaps it comes after we have known heartache and loss; when happiness becomes a part of our being, not just a surface emotion. It’s riding the wave of joy and despair and coming out in balance. It’s discovering simple joys in nature or finding a creative outlet that makes your soul sing.
Don’t let others dictate your happiness, and you don’t have to be a martyr. Choose to be happy! And realize it doesn’t mean every day because life gets in the way sometimes. Choosing to be happy is doing the best you can. It’s a treasure hunt to find the little joys and that means being open to the possibility of finding happiness. Take the time to acknowledge the things that make you happy; those things deep inside that feel good and exciting and true to yourself. Taking care of yourself and your feelings will allow you to be more open to love and care for others.