Upon reading the title of this article, you might think something like this in response…
“Yes, of course you can be happy no matter what…with the right drugs to help.”
“Now that’s just ridiculous and impossible.”
“Yeah, sure– if you deny your true feelings.”
When I assert that you, me, all of us can be truly happy no matter what is going on in our lives, our bodies, our relationships and our world, I am not just being some obnoxious Pollyanna.
In fact, if you are struggling with some aspect of your life, hearing that you can be happy despite the conditions going on around or within you might feel downright cruel and insensitive.
This is not my intention. I want us all to remember that we are not depending on other people or circumstances in order to feel good. We are powerful co-creators of our own lives.
I’ve certainly been in a slump from time to time. I wake up on the proverbial “wrong” side of the bed and it’s all downhill from there. Arguments with people I love ensue, deals I was counting on fall through and I feel absolutely miserable.
You’ve probably had these days, weeks, months or even longer slumps as well.
The key here is not how to try to avoid the slump or the challenges in life, but it’s what you do when you meet up with them.
My family and I finally took a trip this summer. Because of an uncertain transition with my husband’s job, most of the summer we stayed home and did not travel as we usually do. This was really tough on me, him and our kids. I absolutely crave the ocean and, because we live in Ohio, it’s a significant trip in terms of time and money to take a beach vacation.
Instead of going to beach, however, we chose to travel to Lake Erie for a short get-away. This was more in line with our budget at the moment and there were activities available that met all of our various interests.
As you might imagine, with this being our only summer vacation, we wanted it to be fun, all we’d envisioned it to be— downright perfect. And of course, as you might guess, it was not perfect. But it was a fun and happy time.
The reason why is because we were all able to make shifts when we came upon a challenge.
Acknowledge where you are but don’t get stuck there!
One morning of our get-away, our plans for sun and merriment at the outdoor water park were dashed by rain and barely 70 degree weather. None of us were happy about this situation, but we were able to regroup, look at alternative plans and decide on one that we were all agreeable with.
In order to be happy no matter what, it’s really important that you acknowledge what you feel and where you are.
If you are broke, lonely, overweight or sick, by all means recognize that unwanted place where you are and allow all of your emotions. Don’t stuff anything down, because the results will not be happiness– or anything close to it.
The challenge with acknowledging the fear, anger, disgust or upset you feel is to notice it but not get swallowed up in it. Don’t get stuck where you are.
Our thoughts and the stories we tell ourselves can attach to particular emotions and fuel– even inflame– them. It is usually our thoughts and stories that ensnare us and cause us to feel paralyzed where we are.
Personal Growth teacher Byron Katie guides and inspires people to question their stories. Using a specific process of inquiry she calls “The Work,” Katie helps troubled and dissatisfied people hone in on the stories they keep telling themselves and she teaches them to turn their stories around so that they can be freer, clearer, more at peace and happier.
While you can get a fuller understanding of Byron Kate’s process and “The Work” from her website and products, I’ll give you an introductory taste. People who do “The Work” ask themselves this question: “Is it true?”
If you can stop and ask yourself if a particular thought or belief is true– that you absolutely know this to be true– you can begin to get unstuck. In many many situations, the stories we tell ourselves about other people, circumstances or even our own selves are simply not true They might seem possible, but we can’t know for sure.
Simply by admitting to ourselves that something might not be absolutely true (or even marginally true), can help us soften in the rigid stuck place we were in up to that point and from there we can open up. As you question your stories and begin to open to possibilities, the potential for happiness grows. Suddenly your life and world seem less limited than they were only minutes before.
Find and appreciate something about this moment.
I still haven’t taken a trip to the ocean this year. But I am finding aspects about my life– as it is– to be happy about.
It might sound like I am “settling” for less. It may appear that I am making the best of a disappointing situation. This is a story I could tell myself– and I do at times. In order to make a shift toward happiness, it is vital that you enjoy each moment as much as you can. There is always something to find to appreciate about where you are right now.
It might be the taste of a fresh blueberry on your cereal. It could be the sound of crickets lulling you to sleep at night. Or it could be the smile of a friend or family member that entices you to smile as well.
Happiness-inducers are all around you and, believe it or not, within you as well. It is up to all of us to recognize them, rest our attention on them and even blend with them for awhile.
The great thing about celebrating where you are, is that you raise your vibration.
You know how it feels when you are light and easy about life? It is often at times like this that everything simply falls into place. You don’t seem to need to work hard at anything– what you want comes to you with relative ease.
Doors open, opportunities present themselves and you attract people into your life with whom you feel joyful and enriched. Life is truly a journey– not an end-state. You can be happy along the way.