4 Lessons on Feeling HappyBe content with what you have; rejoice in where you are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu
As a conscious gal who’s committed to deepening my relationship with Self and helping others do the same, I’ve learned some potent lessons about the World’s Most-Wanted, elusive state of happiness.
Most often it’s our own expectation and longing for that happy-gassed state that’s actually the culprit of our suffering. The stronger our craving and attachment to the stuff, the less of it we get.
See happiness — like any emotion — checks in and checks out on the regular. It peaks and it wanes and then it doubles back to you.
I used to fret and dread the absence of happiness. I’d perpetuate the darkness by fearing it intensely. Like a dysfunctional relationship, my neediness only repelled the very stuff I wanted for. I’d cling on when happiness arrived, and I’d cry when it left.
But it is absolutely possible to experience more peace and contentment by learning to trust and accept the fluxes of our emotions — the feel good ones and the hard-to-handle ones — so they don’t stampede our spirit and so we can roll through them, growing as we go.
Here are four lessons that have helped me and my clients access greater peace, flow and growth. Happiness cravings be gone!
1. The Hidden Lesson
When we grip and attach to what we really want — happiness in particular — that very thing will often be snatched from our white-knuckled clasp. This is not to punish us but to endow a powerful lesson.
Two years ago I suffered depression. My comfort was stolen and set up in flames as I watched on in horror. Every single day for months on end I prayed that I would be taken back to the way I was before. My heavy spirit longed for lightness, and I tore shreds off myself for being this way.
But there was a moment — one of the lowest in fact — when I experienced an incredible sense of clarity, It was a knowing beyond any rational explanation. Without a skerrick of proof, I knew that this pain was here to serve me.
Embedded within it was a potent lesson. I was still in pain. But the darkness was weighted with purpose now. I gave up trying to escape and resist and go back. And I followed that glimmer of light the whole way through, seeking my lesson. That experience has colored how I see and appreciate all of the challenging times in my life.
When it’s hardest to do so, seek out your lesson. It is in there. Deeper resolution always follows a crisis.
2. Two Sides to Every Coin
Light creates shadows. They co-exist and precipitate one another. That’s the nature of the Universe and also of our inner experiences. Inside all of us there are both parts equally — joy and depression.
Trouble is, we typically predominate toward one perspective, shutting out the other. I do it. We all do. But with practice, we can learn to see and feel both sides.
Here’s how: I recently navigated my way through some intense feelings of rejection. I sat and consciously conjured up three recent experiences in which I’d felt the opposite: generosity, belonging and inclusion.
I melted into each memory, re-experiencing them vividly. I let myself be overcome by this deep sense of inclusion and love. I hadn’t wiped out the rejection but I’d seen and felt the other side.
We can use this powerful balancing technique to move through any difficult emotion we’re experiencing.
3. Finding Neutral
When we’re wrapped up in a tough emotion or we’re at the peak of a bad day, it does feel like hell. I know.
These days I see my emotions as boisterous, attention-seeking little kiddies, screaming for my attention. But behind these intense mental spectacles is a calm sea of awareness.
We can drop into that glorious space of awareness at any moment and loosen the suffocating stranglehold of our feelings.
Dropping into that space of awareness — where you watch the show, consciously resisting the urge to pour more fuel on the fire — creates a safe and liberating distance between any difficult emotion and experience.
4. Let Go of What Happened to You
A week ago I had a hard time letting go. I’m the host of a podcast series called The Brave Exchange. I’d worked relentlessly to secure an interview with an incredible woman and finally I’d locked in a date and time to chat.
For an hour we delved deep into the formative year she spent off the grid in the wilderness. The conversation was electric. It leapt from one breathtaking climax to the next crushing low point, all in what flashed by in what felt like minutes.
As soon as our chat was done, almost panting with excitement, I clicked to my recording software. That can’t be right. I closed it and reopened. The recording cursor was pulsing in ready anticipation at the left of my screen.
No way. No. But, yes… I had forgotten to press record. It was 10am on Monday. My entire day/week/year — ruined!!
But I’ve come too far down this path to let that be so. I stepped away from the screen and walked. Defeated, I trudged towards the park, letting blame and self-pity wreak their havoc until a wise voice intercepted.
Lucy you’re perpetuating. This is a crappy situation but it’s been and gone. You have the power to leave what’s happened behind and move on. Let it go.
Life will throw lemons at us sometimes. But we candefuse any ego-erupting situation with one decisive stroke from the arm of our highest self. We can cut our connection to the pain-source by choice.
Perhaps it’s the rude thing she said to you; the man who stole your car park and snarled at you; the expected invitation that didn’t arrive. Seethe and complain for a time but without too much delay, choose to let go.
This is the ultimate act of self-respect. Our happiness and growth, our relationships and our productivity all hinge on our ability to consistently drop the baggage we’re needlessly lugging around.
So in that moment I dropped it. I started walking again, only quicker and lighter. I didn’t look back. I seized the day. We rescheduled the interview. And for the record — it was better the second time round.
Happiness and peace come easily when life is flowing abundantly. But the law of impermanence promises that it can’t always flow this way, so nor should we expect it to.
When life zaps your spirit and when it rocks your world, trust that you’re experiencing a part of you that needs to step forward and be heard and felt right now. And know too that it will pass through when it’s good and ready.
There’s a mantra that hums like soothing background music behind everything I experience these days. Where happiness and peace are concerned, it’s powerful beyond measure:
This too shall pass. And I will ride it through with grace until it does.