Why is it that people know sadness more than happiness? Why do the negative stories of our lives stand out so much more prominently in our minds than the good stuff? And, why do we hear all of the no’s and take the yes’s in stride barely registering them?
When we learn that emotional pain is a state of mind, why isn’t that good news? Why do we go right to judgment, either of self: “If I can’t change this, what is wrong with me?” or judgement of others: “They must not understand how bad it is.” And let that stick us to the negative place even more.
Last night someone said to me, “It is going to be hard.” I said “Why?” He said, “I don’t know, I just made that up in my head.”
Yeah, you did. Who knows how it is going to be? How do you think that will effect you to think it is hard? What if you go through the whole event saying “This is hard, this is hard.” Could fun even find you in that state of mind?
My son has been stressed all weekend because his coach told him that they were going to do a 2K on the erg (rowing machine) at Monday’s practice. It takes ten minutes. He is stressed all weekend. Why not just be stressed those ten minutes?
If we let our negative feelings be our identity, we feel worthless and are left with fear and guilt. A breeding ground for panic and shame. You can get lost in it.
We have a game we have played since my oldest was little. (He is 21 now.) One of us draws a squiggle and the other one has to create a picture of something out of it. We can do it for hours with just scraps of paper.
If you feel like a squiggle, draw something new out of it. Creativity is the key to healing. It takes the brain from limited-and-stuck to open-to-new-possibilities.
How do you know you are happy?
It is hard to know when you are happy because when you are happy you are being, you are experiencing and living and relating. Present enough not to think too much about it. The point is you are not analyzing every nuance, every thought, every tweak of the mind. You are just being.
When we are sad, we are overly aware, but of all the negatives. We analyse the heck out of ourselves. Lament, and judge and worry all day long. Sometimes I ask people how long these intense periods of sadness last. They inevitably say something that gives me the impression some distraction took them out of it. Action is the key. Do something, and be into that instead of into your monkey mind. Staying still, staying in our heads, make it worst.
We are going to always have good days and bad days. On happy days, we go about our lives. On bad days, if we showed some self compassion and allowed ourselves to be sad, we would also go about our lives. Instead on bad days fear arises, “I am always going to be like this.” and shame chokes us, “Why am I so weak?” and we can begin to drown. Sadness itself is manageable. But sad, with fear and guilt is some heavy stuff.
Know when you’re happy
I know I am happy when I am not feeling like a victim of the world. I know I am calmer when I am not feeling like a perpetrator of all the world’s problems. And, I feel relaxed when I stop thinking that everyone else’s problems are my responsibility.
I know I am happy when I am feeling grateful. Or maybe it is when I feel grateful I am happy. I feel balanced when I am not thinking about past mistakes, because I got what I needed out of them, and they no longer exist. I am relieved when I stop listening to the voice of shame that tells me I hurt people, make things worse, and make people want to leave me. And, I am content when I stop letting Fear trick me into thinking “I can’t.”
I feel here when I am in the present. I am being when I allow myself to just be.
And over to you, dear readers,
How do you know you are happy?