I’ve been having discussions recently with people about happiness, as clients have been saying “I just want to be happy.” This peaked my curiosity and I started asking the question “What does that mean to you? How do you define happiness?” This is what I heard…
- I won’t be sad anymore
- (some other person) won’t (some action/attitude) anymore
- I won’t worry anymore
- I won’t be afraid anymore
- (some other person) will (some action/attitude) so I will feel they care about/love me
- I won’t be angry all the time
- I will feel glad/joy/good
It became clear that either these people were not safe with all of their emotions or they saw their emotional state as being dependent upon another person’s actions or attitudes. It also struck me that there was an expectation or belief that happiness is the desired state, all the time.
I recall a 1970’s teaching I heard from one of the Eastern gurus, I really no longer remember exactly who, to “celebrate your sadness.” At the time, I first thought that was really crazy. Why would I celebrate my sadness? I eventually learned that when I stopped resisting any emotion and just let it flow, it was no longer painful to experience. When I released my judgment about an emotion (as being “negative” or “bad” or wanting to hold on to what was “positive” or “good”) and simply felt it, breathing into it, it flowed through fairly quickly and without pain. Celebrating my emotions meant to feel them fully and let them flow through, choosing what to act upon or not. Celebrating my emotions meant appreciating that emotions are part of being human. Most of all, it resulted in finding peace deep inside, flowing with life as it happens and not getting stuck. Misery became optional.
I invite you to ask yourself what happiness means to you and to challenge the thought that it is the ultimate desired state. Share your thoughts and questions on the blog. Is happiness over-rated? I’m looking forward to our conversation!