I normally try and keep things light hearted here. I love to share stories to make a point, but today I just want to “talk” about something I believe.
I recently read a Facebook post. The person posting said they were unhappy, and someone else said they just need to decide to be happy and voila, happiness can be theirs. Change your attitude change your world kind of logic.
I do agree that we can change our thoughts to change our lives. Please do not get me wrong. Positive thoughts are great. But I think (pun intended) we should go a step further when deciding to just be happy.
What if we were to just allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling? If you are sad, maybe you need to be sad. If you are angry, maybe you need to be angry. If you are anxious, maybe… well you get the point.
I don’t believe in turning off a process in order to be happy, because maybe happiness isn’t the point. Maybe learning from the emotion is the point.
I’m not saying, wallow, or live in an emotional state. But emotions, like thoughts, are fleeting. They don’t last. If they do last then rather than just turning my thoughts to happier thoughts, I take the time to dig in and find out why I’m not able to recover from something that should be short-lived. Just like in meditation, when I stand outside myself and watch my thoughts go by, when I feel something, I often step outside my thoughts and ask myself questions. What about that feeling makes me want to stay stuck? What do I want to do about it? How far am I willing to go to get unstuck? Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone?
There are traditional and non-traditional ways to move forward from a mind-set that has become HABIT. But in my opinion, thinking or affirming ones way out is not the best idea. Mantras and affirmations certainly have a space in life, but if you don’t believe what you are saying or thinking, what good is it? Sorry, but I do not buy the fake it ‘til you make it philosophy. We end up telling ourselves a lie and really never getting to know ourselves better. Isn’t that what a hurt heart and suffering in our lives are about? Getting to know ourselves better to become a more authentic version of ourselves? Maybe someone we are happy with? Someone who stands and lives in truth, whatever that truth may be?
Suffering is meant to break us open. As Mark Nepo, author of many books including The Awakening, says, Life will either break us open or we can shed willingly.
When life is breaking us open, either by an event that causes suffering or a feeling we can’t shake, it’s time to shed willingly. Otherwise, we just repeat the suffering over and over again. I haven’t found an affirmation yet that has gotten me over my body image issues. However, taking a music therapy class that is making me dance around and sing is getting me so out of my comfort zone that now when I say I love my body, I actually mean it. I love that I am able to sing out loud. I love that I can dance. Now my mantras about my body mean something.
And that is just one example of something I need to deal with. Feeling sad? Get therapy. It maybe something as simple as getting a massage or going to dinner with a friend and talking. Taking music lessons or dance. Give blood. Visit a sick friend. Go on a mission trip. Get a pet — my dog has done wonders for my soul. Go to a guided meditation, or a workshop. Nature is one of the best cures for anything we are suffering. Pray. Write about your emotions, let the writing sit for a week then go back. Are you still feeling the same way? Is the emotion becoming a habit? What can be done? What are you willing to do? Is acceptance part of your vocabulary? There’s a saying, what we resists, persists.
Most humans love a community — don’t suffer alone! I have found that the fastest way to happiness is finding HELP rather than trying to think happy thoughts or affirm happy sayings.
Sometimes our scariest, hardest, most fragile feelings are the most helpful for living an authentic life. Facing what we feel is not bad, even if it is not happy; even if those around us are not happy with us.
Like I said, I love a good affirmation, especially if you find one that feels empowering, but that affirmation probably gave off that feeling because it either resonates already or heals something there ready to be healed. Asking your soul to think itself happy is just not fair to any part of you or those around you. It feels shallow to me.
The soul is here to suffer, overcome suffering, suffer some more and eventually… after the suffering is over and the healing of all that we came here to heal is done, be happy all the time. That happiness is called Enlightenment and very few people can be there all the time. Until then we should take happiness when happiness is there, in the present moment, and not try and cling too tightly. And, in the suffering, we also should not act clingy, but allow it to pass at its own pace.
It’s the clinging we need to be aware of more than the emotion. Again, repeating from above, it’s like meditation, watching the thoughts go by like a cloud, standing outside, looking in. That is what we can do with emotions too. If we can get perspective, by standing outside of the moment and ask ourselves questions about how we can best serve the suffering then happiness comes faster and faster.
Today I ask myself, am I suffering? Why?