Written by: Ana Angelique, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I can’t help but chuckle to myself when I see yet another book on obtaining happiness. Those books are marketed in a way that makes it seem like finding and maintaining happiness is some secret code that few have been able to crack and master… a secret society… or that it’s the holy grail itself, and that your life won’t be complete unless you find this golden nugget hidden at the end of a rainbow. I’m also fairly certain that if there was a bookstore or library that contained every printed version on these books about how to be happy, that those shelves would be numerous and jam-packed, with at least another pile or two on the floor. And all these books serve up happiness like a recipe: A list of ingredients for happiness, and the steps to “make” it. Some even tell you how long it’ll take you to get there, usually implying that you’ve somehow done it wrong if you’re not there by a given date. But I don’t believe it’s a 10-step recipe and it’s not a golden chalice either. I also don’t believe in 100% happiness or a timeframe that you “should” be able to achieve it by.
Happiness is free, available, and obtainable to everyone. Right now. And I think that there are two big myths on happiness that make it seem elusive and somewhat unobtainable, so let’s crack open these two myths:
Myth 1: You need to be happy 100% of the time.
This is simply ridiculous. It’s not possible to be happy 100% of the time, and that’s okay. Why? Because we’re all human and we experience a range of emotions. And contrary to what we’re told about emotions, experiencing an emotion is not bad. There is no bad emotion. Every emotion that we experience is there to serve a purpose. Emotions remind us of what we like and don’t like; Of what we should be grateful for and of where or how we need to spend more time.
Feeling an emotion is not dangerous, but what you do with that emotion can be dangerous. For instance, if you’re really angry, smashing your fist through a window might feel good initially, but damaging your hand and having to deal with the broken glass isn’t so much fun. You could have chosen to let out the excess energy by screaming really loudly, which would probably have given you the same satisfaction of immediate release. But it’s not necessarily the emotion or your actions, it’s about your choice on how long you hold onto that emotion and what you do about it – how you manage it, deal with it, work through it, or shake it off.
Allow yourself to feel and experience the emotion, and every emotion. See if you can uncover why you feel the way you do and if it’s something you don’t like feeling, ask yourself what you can do so that you minimise encountering it again. What’s the trigger for any particular emotion? Is it a situation? An event? An encounter? What can be done differently? And what can be done now, so that after experiencing and feeling the emotion, you can let it go? What can you do to turn it around? Is there something else that makes you happy, hopeful or peaceful that you can focus on instead?
Myth 2: You need to forgive and forget to be happy.
The saying “forgive and forget” really gets me cranky because to forget an experience that hurt us in some way, would involve potentially repeating the same mistake again. And that’s not something that anyone wants. All of our experiences teach us something and shape who we are. They help us set and maintain our boundaries, and they teach us about what we like and don’t like.
As difficult as it can be sometimes and as terrible an experience may have been, you do need to at least forgive yourself for allowing it to happen, knowing that you did the best that you could at the time, under those circumstances. You may not want to forgive others that were involved, because in many ways, forgiving them, tells your unconscious self that you were okay with what they did, when in reality, you probably weren’t. I’m not saying to hold grudges, but I am saying that you need to forgive yourself enough that you can consciously take the steps necessary to ensure that you don’t let the same thing happen to you again. By doing this, you can do what the underlying message of the phrase “forgive and forget” means, which is to allow yourself enough forgiveness to move on, and not dwell on it. Accept that it’s happened and accept that you can’t change the past, understanding that there’s therefore no use in dwelling on it.
Accept it for what it was and the lessons it taught, make any adjustments in your life, and then move on – this will give you peace, which in turn, will lead to happiness.
Happiness, in most cases, is peace, gratitude and contentment. It’s accepting what is and choosing to take the steps to change what you can’t or won’t accept. It’s having your basic needs met so that you can focus on life’s luxuries, which are different for everyone. Happiness is stopping and acknowledging all the little snippets of beauty around you; Being grateful for what you have and everything that you can do, instead of focussing on what you don’t have or what isn’t perfect. There is always more than one way to look at everything and the way that you choose to view things, determines your own happiness. You’re in control of your own happiness, no one else.
For example, as I write this, I’m grateful and happy that it’s another beautifully sunny day and I can feel the light breeze blowing on my skin; That I have my children around me, happily playing, and that I can hear their chatter and laughter; That I have a place to call home that’s filled with all of the creature comforts that keep me dry, warm, safe; That I have food in the kitchen and enough money to buy more when I need to. However, I could have chosen to look at it another way: I could say that it’s really bright and hot again, and that my children are making another mess and are noisy; That my home is too small, and the kitchen isn’t as fancy as I’d like, and that I can’t go to that really expensive restaurant every day or don’t have the luxury of having a personal chef at home.
As humans, we’re always going to want more, but being happy isn’t about focussing on what is not. It’s about focussing on what is; About choosing to find the good, choosing to change, choosing to find the positive and choosing to see things in a different way. Happiness is about shifting your perspective to one of gratitude so that the viewpoint of gratitude dissolves the stresses, the angst, and lessens the worries to allow in the happiness.
Simplify. Breathe. Experience. Embrace. Allow. Accept. Forgive. Adjust. Choose. Be.
And happiness will find you.
Ana Angelique, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine After overcoming some major life challenges on her own, Ana Angelique believes that others shouldn’t have to struggle in silence; Life is complex enough, but it is also beautiful, and it should be enjoyed. As a well-being life coach and mentor, Ana’s positive approach to life, her captivating and addictive energy, and her creative thinking enable her to empower her clients to take charge of their future and regain control. She has an insider’s perspective - one that’s been gained from an international corporate background, that enables her to relate to and understand, the real challenges faced by people every day. Thought-provoking, persuasive, and inspirational, Ana has natural teaching abilities and is known for her unique perspective on situations.