Addicted to Happiness?

This year, I decided to embark on a year of HAPPINESS…a quest to choose happiness above everything else.  It sounds like a good idea, right?  Well… I am one month in and I discovered that ALWAYS choosing happiness may not be the best path.  

If you dig deep enough, I bet you will discover that at the root of all of your desires is the motivation to feel happy.  From the moment you wake-up in the morning you begin subconsciously asking, 

“What will make me happy?”

It’s 5:30am. The alarm echoes throughout the bedroom shrieking, “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” You turn off the alarm and lay in the silence of your cozy bed. You have a choice: Stay in bed and catch an extra hour of shut-eye or wake up and go for a morning run. What do you choose? How do you decide? 

Answer:  You choose the option that will bring you the most happiness.

Some people sprint toward happiness (aka immediate gratification). Others marathon slow and steady (aka delayed gratification). Either way, you don’t willingly strap on your tennis shoes with the intention of feeling un-happy. You run to get a happiness-high

You are addicted to happiness.  

 

We are all addicted to happiness.  Our society has conditioned us to believe that we SHOULD be happy. Always.

Heaven forbid you start to feel the inkling of an emotion like sadness (gasp) or anger (oh no, not that)!  If that ever happens, you need to have a “plan” to get happy again. Then, voila. The un-happiness disappears…or does it? You see, the “get happy plan” doesn’t really make unhappiness disappear.  It just covers it up.  

Exercising, eating, shopping, taking medicine, and a glass of wine are all external means to a temporary mind numbing happiness high.

The runner’s-high fades. 

The beer buzz ends. 

The novelty and excitement of the new purchase dwindles. 

Then, what are you left with?  The  discontent you thought “magically disappeared” is still there. Shopping, drinking, and eating  don’t make feelings go away. They just cover them up. Stuff them away. Only to resurface after the temporary happiness fades.

Stuffing feelings beneath a facade of temporary happiness-highs is not the path to authentic, genuine happiness.  Hiding feelings of discontent is like hiding a potato under your bed.  After awhile, it rots and starts to stink.  Then you really have a problem.  Just think, all you had to do was deal with that potato–toss it in the garbage and let the garbage truck haul it away.  But, nooooo…you thought it would be easier to stuff it under your bed rather than deal with it.  

Everyday we experience a spectrum of emotions and that is TOTALLY NORMAL.  But, somehow, society has made us believe that the ONLY choice is happiness.  Feeling sad?  Take a pill.  Go on vacation.  Eat this and you’ll feel happy again.Guess what? All that stuffing can literally make you sick.  

A 2013 study conducted by psychologists from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that suppressing emotions may increase the risk of dying from heart disease and certain forms of cancer. This confirms earlier studies that have linked negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and depression to the development of heart disease.

Next time you feel sad, you have a choice. Ante up for another game of hide your unhappiness and seek some external happiness. Or grab hold of that sadness…FEEL it, deal with it, let it go and move on.  It’s like taking a dump.  Everybody knows it feels better to pinch one off than hold it in.  It is the same with feelings.  But still, some people think it’s easier to hold emotions in.

I don’t want to deal with my anger or sadness or disappointment!  I’ll just have a glass of wine and forget about it.

 So, you hold on to it.  Hide it away. And when the “emotional stink” starts to surface, you cover it up with a glass of wine or a trip to the mall.  All better, right?  Nope.  It stinks worse tomorrow.  Answer: more wine more shopping.  A month later…totally rotten, but now you are stuffing it with a bottle of wine…and a mountain of credit card debt and…uh oh, you are on the slippery slope toward ADDICTION. 

At what point does a behavior become an addiction?  The answer is DEPENDENCE. 

  • If you NEED that wine or shopping or drug to feel good, you are on the pathway to addiction. 
  • If that hour of “retail therapy” is COMPULSIVE and UNCONTROLLABLE, you are on the path to addiction.   
  • If you CANNOT FEEL GOOD WITHOUT IT, it is an addiction.

It’s not hard to slide into a state of dependence upon external things to get a happiness-high.  What can you do when you find yourself on the path to addiction? 

What if…instead of covering your feelings with external sources happiness, you discovered happiness within yourself?  

What if…you could be happy by actually letting go of the expectation that you should feel happy all the time? FEELING all of your emotions, releasing judgements about yourself or how you should be, and loving yourself exactly the way you are is the path toward authentic happiness.  

What if…you could be happy by simply closing your eyes and finding that peaceful place within–where you know that your higher being is protected and loved beyond all measure. 

You can! 

The potential to discover authentic happiness is there.  It is within you. 

It may not be as easy as opening a bottle of wine, swallowing a pill, or swiping your credit card. But, this internal happiness is everlasting. It won’t fade. 

This is how to do it: Steps to Authentic Happiness

So, what about my year of HAPPINESS? Oh, don’t you worry…I am still on a quest for happiness! It is just a quest for GENUINE, AUTHENTIC, INTERNAL happiness.  šŸ˜Š

Introduction to Empowerful Parentingā„¢Ā 

What is Empowerful Parentingā„¢?  

Empowerful Parentingā„¢ is giving children the power and opportunity to learn and grow by doing things for themselves.  

In a society of “helicopter parents” who swoop in anytime their child is challenged or uncomfortable, Empowerful Parents understand that it is through life’s challenges that we grow

Empowerful Parents give their children space and opportunity to learn through experience

Empowerful Parents provide children with honestloving guidance and positive support to develop independence and self-confidence.  

  

Scenario:  Your 6-year old wails from the couch, “Mom, I’m thirsty!”

The enabling parent:  

Responds to needs by getting the child a drink.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Says an empowering statement, “You are thirsty? What are you going to do?” (This statement says:  I believe in your abilities.  You are capable.  I value your opinion.)

Then, gives space and time for child to think and respond.

If child needs help, parent offers guidance by saying, “You could get a cup from the panty for water or there are juice boxes in the refrigerator”

If child asks parent to do it for them, parent responds, “Let’s get your drink together.  I can show you how, so you will know what to do next time you feel thirsty.”

Scenario:  Your 10-year old has put off doing his book report–it is due tomorrow and he hasn’t even started yet.

The enabling parent:  

Helps the child by basically doing the project for him so he won’t get a bad grade.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Encourages the child with an empowering statement that helps the child recognize the strengths of the situation (i.e.  “you still have plenty of time to finish the project” or “you are smart kid, I know you’ll figure it out”). 

Then, The Empowerful Parent gives the child space and time for independent problem solving while remaining present for positive support.  

Next, offers guidance when child requests assistance.

Finally, if needed parent works together with the child to help facilitate problem solving. 

The Empowerful Parent sees challenges like this as an opportunity for the child to learn about time management.

Learn more:  Empowerful Parentingā„¢ Fox News interview 
I can’t talk about Empowerful Parentingā„¢ without giving a “shout out” to all of the people who have influenced my evolution as a parent.  I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of Empowerful Parents.  It is these amazing mamas and papas who have helped me to see the power of positive thinking, recognizing abilities and providing children with safe and appropriate opportunities for growth and independence.  These relationships have helped me evolve from an enabling parent into an Empowerful Parent.  Thanks to all of you…you know who you are šŸ˜‰