Stop Doing These 4 Things if You Want To Be Happier
“I have no right to be unhappy, I really have such a great life—so many people in the world are suffering and have much bigger problems than me.”
I used to find myself saying that … and my clients often say it. I learned to start sessions by telling my clients that I know that there are people who have a rougher life than you and that you shouldn’t complain, but this is a space where all of your pain, suffering, and sadness matter.
It’s hard for us to let go of the story we carry that because we live in a nice home, have healthy kids, and a “great” life, we “should” be happy.
But maybe it’s not enough.
Maybe what we believe “should” make us happy isn’t what DOES make us happy.
Do you ever beat yourself up by saying things like “my life is great, what is wrong with me? why can’t I just be happy?” and “why can’t I just be grateful and enjoy my life?”
The longing doesn’t go away. We ache for something more. Perhaps you wonder if there is anything else – "maybe this is it? Are the best years behind me? Should I just accept my life as it is? —it’s not that bad, right?"
Listen to that quiet voice that's calling out to you.
It’s okay to admit that you feel a little alone, empty, unfulfilled, and uninspired. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it simply makes you a human being longing for something more.
You can live in a nice community, be a good person, have material things, check all the boxes, and live a ‘great’ life AND not feel as happy and deeply satisfied by your life as want to feel.
And, it’s only when you surrender to the truth of how you feel that you can have any hope of finding your way to a better place in your life.
Let's stop resisting the truth of how we feel and admit to ourselves that we want more and not feel any shame for it.
The truth is, something IS missing.
I see it over and over again.
And I think that there is a part of you that knows this, too.
You’ve likely sacrificed parts of yourself, suppressed your feelings, downplayed your needs, armored your heart, and dimmed your light – in an attempt to not upset others, to win their love and approval, or to avoid getting hurt.
The feeling that something is missing is the feeling of you being called back to your wholeness.
Your longing to feel happier is the inner call to reconnect to all of yourself.
FOUR THINGS YOU MUST STOP DOING TO FIND HAPPINESS
1- Stop thinking of happiness as the absence of pain and sadness
I don’t think most of us are longing for the always smiley, superficial, facade of happiness; rather a sense of self-contentment, inner peace, and a feeling of being at home in our skin.
I think we're looking for a feeling of being truly alive and fulfilled.
I think many of us resist what we think is bad, dark, uncomfortable, sad, negative, or painful within ourselves and in life itself.
When we resist parts of ourselves and our experience, we live a half-lived life.
When we turn down the feeling of pain, we turn down the feeling of happiness and joy.
When we believe that sadness and pain are the enemy of feeling happy, we put on a facade–pretending we are happy when we're crying inside–and the facade moves us further from the authentic connection and emotional depth we long for.
When we sit in the darkness, we can then experience and appreciate the light.
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~Eckhart Tolle
So...feel the feels!
2- Stop comparing and minimizing your “unhappiness”
Comparing your life to others or more specifically comparing your struggles, challenges, level of pain, or happiness to others is a waste of time.
Comparison is a happiness killer.
Trust yourself. And honor your own experience.
If you’re not happy, admit it, it’s a great place to start.
You deserve to “feel” good inside and no one can tell you whether you do or don’t or whether you should or shouldn’t.
Your inner experience is unique to you.
Feelings are inarguable––they aren’t right or wrong, they just are.
Don't rank pain, face it.
3- Stop sweeping the “bad stuff” under the carpet in an effort to make everything seem okay (aka denial)
We do this with the best of intentions––we want to create a good life for our kids, we want to stay married, we want it all to be okay because we're committed to our families.
In countless ways we are happy––we have so much to be grateful for and so many relationships and experiences bring us great joy.
And we don’t want to be a downer.
So we become masters at rationalizing. We tell ourselves that things are “good enough” and that things will get better.
We tell ourselves "when xyz happens, we'll be happy." We say “raising (young) kids is hard” so we convince ourselves that it’s just a phase. It’s not that it’s not true, but we don’t want to wake up 18 years later and discover it was never “just a phase”.
We tell ourselves we aren’t that unhappy. We suppress our negative feelings.
It seems like the easier path.
But at some point, we acknowledge that we’re deluding ourselves––the easy path is not getting us what we desire.
When we show up more vulnerably, admitting that we aren’t happy, that we DO want something more...we realize that we aren’t alone––that many have walked this path before us and many are on this path now––and feeling less alone is a small step towards feeling better.
At some point, we have to admit where we ARE so we can start to do what it takes to be where we want to BE.
4- Stop looking for happiness in the wrong places
We all learn to look outside of ourselves for happiness. It starts as children when we want our parent's approval and validation.
And then we learn to find pleasure through food, material stuff, drugs, fantasizing, relationships, activities, success, jobs, etc.
It may feel good in the moment, but the aching emptiness comes back. The longing doesn't go away.
We learn that when we have a good day, we should feel “happy” and when we have a bad day, we should feel “low” or “down.”
When we aren’t happy, we wonder––what do we need to change "out there?" Do I need to go back to work? Do I need to quit my job? Is it my marriage? Maybe things would be better if we moved…"
We blame our life circumstances, experiences, and people for our unhappiness.
But happiness doesn't reside in circumstances, experiences, and people.
Deep down, we know this is true.
So, where do we find this thing called happiness?
Nothing you buy, no one you marry, no kids or trips or drugs will give you true, sustainable happiness.
It's found inside of us.
But we keep looking outside of ourselves because we’ve never been taught another way.
Happiness is an inside job.
Search inward for the unexpected path to healing and true happiness.
5 Things You Can Do To Find More Happiness
- Slow down your pace. If you find yourself needing to respond to all of the needs of others and are caught up in the crisis of the moment, notice that. See where you can free up some space in your day. Remember to take a few deeper breaths throughout the day. Start to say no more often.
- Take care of yourself. You matter and in fact, you are the hub of your family. I know you believe that because that is why you think you need to keep it all together and respond to all of the needs of others. But there is a paradox in all of this – without you stepping away from all that you believe you need to carry on your shoulders, you cannot continue to carry it. Your kids need a mom who is taking care of herself and her inner world. They need a mom who has the energy and presence to really and truly be there for them physically and emotionally.
- Face yourself and feel your feelings. Allow yourself to feel your feelings fully – when you suppress them, they get stuck and stay with you. Next time you feel sad, go into the sadness and feel it. Feelings are like waves, they come and then they go. Trust that to be true. NOTE: you don’t have to verbalize your feelings to feel them – try feeling them in your body.
- Start a gratitude journal. Begin to write down that which you are grateful for. Do it for a week and notice if anything changes in your life.
- Get to know yourself better. Download this free exercise and guide that will reveal something that you probably don't know about yourself!
And please post below if you have any questions or want to share your experience. I know not everyone can relate to this, perhaps you’re the one with the “bigger problems” that we compare to.
Please share, we are all in this together and all of us just want to feel connected, loved, and alive.
If you’re curious about how to find true happiness, schedule time to chat with me (and I can tell you what REALLY is the source of your unhappiness)!
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