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.
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. 😊