Want to be happy? You have to choose it. There are abundant opportunities to be sad, angry, bummed, disappointed. But happiness? You have to grab it with both hands and cling to the idea and feelings like a pit bull with a bone! This is no small thing.
Now, just because you decide that you want to be happy is not a guarantee. But it has to start with the decision and commitment.
Let's say you want to clean your bathroom. You can want a clean bathroom all day long but eventually you'll have to pick up a sponge or a rag or a toilet brush and start scrubbing. Right? If you only have time to spray and wipe down the mirror, that's ok, now your mirror is clean and that's a great start. Get the idea? Decide you want happiness and then take action to create the habits and mindset of happiness.
A happy life does not happen all at once. You work for it. You commit to it. You take action to clean away the muck and mire. Little by little your choices add up. The kind of music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the entertainment you choose, the way you talk to yourself and others, etc.
If you want to be fit, you don't work out all in one day, you have to change your food and activity. Make sense? So for happiness, dig in and plan your emotional, physical, and mental environments to clear out what isn't working and implement what does bring you joy, true joy. Step by step. And Providence will step in as your partner in joy.
How about starting out by generously sharing your smile? Experiment with greeting someone new warmly, as if he or she is an old friend. Let me know what happens.
Love, Aunt Laya
Thanks to Scott Liddlle (hotblack) and Morguefile.com for the great photo!
Sometimes you gotta get stuff off your chest, rant, blow off some steam. But that doesn't mean you have to do it in a destructive way. Gossip, talking about other people, is a pretty destructive way to go. It won't really help you in the long run, and in truth, gossiping about other people will hurt you, the listener, and the subject in ways we don't even fathom.
That's not to say you can't talk about things ever but when other people are involved, caution is important. Once you let the words go, you can't get them back.
One way I have dealt with my hardest of feelings, hurt, anger, disappointment and so on, is to write it out. Let it loose and say what you need to say. The idea here is that you will not be sending it. Just spill out the feelings and get clear. Clear out the hurt and anger and maybe even get clear about what you need to learn from the situation, if you can.
Some people rip up the paper after they write the letter. Some people even burn it up. I was very upset about a few things and wrote a bunch of letters in my journal. At first I thought I might send them but in the end, I felt better and there was no reason to send the letters. That would not have served anyone at all.
The issue here is how you are inside yourself when times or relationships are challenging. You'll be happier and more peaceful inside your own skin and that will have a ripple effect in positive ways.
So, spill your guts onto paper and then let it go. Delete the hurt and keep the growth.
I was out shopping and heard crying. I turned to look. What I saw was a little family walking: a mom, a dad, a little boy crying, and a baby in a stroller. The mom and dad were not alarmed, the baby was peaceful, the boy was upset. Did he want something that his parents didn't give him? Was it time for his nap? Something upset him, but in the scheme of things, what ever he was bummed about didn't seem to be alarming to anyone around.
Now, his feelings were real to him. He (and everyone for that matter) deserved to be related to with sensitivity and kindness. And, at the same time, nothing tragic was really going on.
For me, it was the perfect reflection of my life that day. I wasn't feeling well when I saw that scene. I wasn't actually crying on the outside, but I felt like I could have been. Still, from a wider perspective, the "not feeling well" of that moment was OK. Especially considering that just two days before I was in terrible pain with food poisoning. So on a pain scale, the pain I was feeling wasn't that high. Truth is, I have a great life and I have a LOT to be grateful about. Still, I get to have my feelings. The cool thing is that I also have a choice about how quickly or slowly I want to move through the little challenges. (Hooray for options and choices.)
Understanding all of this didn't make me feel physically any better. But it did help me get perspective. That was helpful.
So maybe this story will help you get perspective too. When you're sad and crying, consider the big picture of your life and you may find that things are not as bad as you thought.
Of course, I don't really mean a real shower or bath. I'm talking about the cleaning up of the emotions or thoughts. It's a theme here. :-)
What makes me an "expert" is that I have studied this area of life extensively. And I practice what I preach, too. In graduate school, we walked the walk; all the work we did to learn counseling skills was turned inwardly. As one person said to me, "Well, it makes sense: you can't wash windows if your glasses are dirty." Since I graduated (over 20 years ago!), I have continued to read books, attend lectures and online summits, even as I have written, given speeches, and been interviewed.
Guess what? Life continues to bring challenges into my life! I don't get out of it. So even as I share the ways to lift your spirit or live your dreams, I also face my own personal challenges. I apply all the same tools to my life as I recommend to you. I experiment on myself and if it works for me, I share.
If I'm the "expert" then I should have mastered this by now, don't you think? But that's as silly as saying that if I exercised for two years, that I don't need to exercise any more. We eat, are sated, digest, get hungry, eat again. We exercise, we rest, we need to move again.
Water is like emotions, they can be fluid, steamy hot, or icy cold. So to keep your emotional self healthy, you sometimes need to talk about it, sometimes let it go, sometimes transform, and all the time forgive (the truest form of letting go). It's like bathing. You bathe but that doesn't mean you're done for life just because you took one shower. You have to keep yourself clean.
Remember what bathing was like as a kid? You didn't always want to get into that tub. But usually, once you did, you could have some fun getting clean. So, take the risk of getting your thoughts and feelings clean and clear. Ask for help if you need help and don't stop until you get the clarity that brings you true inner peace. It won't last forever. You'll need to process again, but each time you do, you'll come out "smelling like roses." It's worth it!