5 Ways to Stop Being Afraid of Happiness.

Via on Mar 10, 2013
Source: via Alison on Pinterest
Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Are we afraid of happiness?

I can look back at points within my life and remember thinking that this moment, right now, is so good that what comes next must surely be bad.

Even when this proved true, I was still doing myself a disservice by thinking this way, because I wasn’t allowing myself to fully enjoy the happiness of that moment. Rather, there was something sad and strangely…synthetic about it.

I don’t consider myself to be a masochist, but this surely can be considered self-punishing behavior.

Are we afraid of happiness? Why do we think happiness is something fleeting, temporary and delusional? Is it because we don’t want to be happy or because we don’t know what to do once we are?

It seems that much of our life is spent trying to “fix.” We try to fix others; we try to fix ourselves; we try to fix everything and anything in order to feel safe and secure in the real delusion that we can control our situations in ways that are actually very much out of our realm of control.

Does happiness actually bother us because it can’t be controlled?

There’s something passionate and surreal in a true moment of contentment. We feel attached to another person, if the moment involves a spouse or a friend, in a way that can be unnerving if we spend too much time thinking about how intrinsically connected we all are.

Say what?

In other words, finding happiness with another individual, my husband for example, means that my happiness is in some way dependent on him, and for many of us such a dependency goes against our American mind-training.

On the other hand, there’s the simple reality that underlying the most joyful, optimistic thought patterns lies a very negative mind.

Again, say what?

In short, even if we try to view the world positively we can’t help thinking that because we feel good this means that our next life experience surely must be bad because life isn’t, and can’t be, all good; and, yes, there’s obviously merit to this way of thinking, but it serves to foster fear, anxiety and, basically, anything but happiness.

So what can we do to stop being afraid of happiness?

1. We can mindfully stay present with our current happiness by breathing, and reminding ourselves that it’s okay to be happy, and that we deserve it.

2. We can remind ourselves that we don’t need the continual drama in life that being a “fixer” brings. We can experience life and not like how some people behave or how some things turn out for us, but that doesn’t mean that we always need to step in and fix it either.

3. We can practice yoga, because yoga allows us to embrace the sensations present in our bodies and our minds; and it allows us to reflect on how the simple things in life, like breath and movement really do equal happiness.

4. We can mindfully stay present when life is uncomfortable. Not checking out when things get ugly encourages us to fully embrace the present moment, and this serves to connect us with the beauty that always resides there simultaneously, even when it appears hidden.

5. We can acknowledge that being happy sometimes triggers our pessimistic thinking.

So much of life is spent setting and accomplishing goals. John Lennon once said that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and this is so true.

If we spend our life imaging what could have or should have been, we’re by default not enjoying the happiness of where we ended up.

Happiness is scary because it means that we might fall—and it’s true we might—but if we live life waiting to fall down, we’re always falling.

Life ebbs and flows. Happiness ebbs and flows—and that’s okay. It’s okay because the converse of all of this is also true.

When we’re living shadowed beneath the darkest cloud, we know that soon it’s the sun’s turn to peak back out and fill our world with light—and happiness.

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She's also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people that ever lived and she's also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor's degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer then make sure to check out her writing, as she's finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer's first book, The Best Day of Your Life, is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and on her website.

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8 Responses to “5 Ways to Stop Being Afraid of Happiness.”

  1. Viktualia says:

    Thank you for this article, there's so much truth about this, in many different ways. No matter where we find happiness, in ourselves or in others, happiness is impossible to capture because it can be found in so many different ways. I don't think there is necessarily a negative mind underlying most of joyful and optimistic thought patterns. Yet, a fear of happiness and compassion is often related to self-criticism. Maybe we're too busy criticizing ourselves in order to live a successfull life when we truly should practice more mindfulness by using your 5 steps.

    • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

      I agree, I don't think I articulated that sentence correctly. What I meant to say is that sometimes the positive attitude I see in others (and myself) is phony in the sense that there isn't recognition of the negative thoughts that do sometimes, like it or not, exist, and this perpetuates them rather than eliminates them. Does this make more sense?
      I think your bringing criticism into this discussion is hugely valid and important. One thing I see is that people who are the most self-critical are often also the most critical of others; and also people that don't want to spend time fixing themselves are also often inclined to be "people fixers" to avoid self-confrontation. Thanks for bringing this important topic to a higher level of conversation. I appreciate your feedback highly.

  2. Robyn says:

    I have known many people who are afraid of happiness, but I am not one of them. It's not something I've really thought about, other than wondering why someone wouldn't want to be happy. I know too many people who dwell on all of the bad stuff to the point of being unhappy. I'm sort of happy by default and feel really put out when something makes me feel otherwise for a brief time. I guess some people would assume I'm phony — I don't walk around with a ridiculous smile or acting annoyingly upbeat, but I think that it's really based in personality type. I also don't think that I fail to deal with negative feelings or bury them. I just deal with them and find my way back to happiness. Some people are more pessimistic, others more optimistic. These are things people can work on. I'm not disagreeing with you in any way, just rambling. And defending the fact that because someone seems happy and positive-minded most of the time doesn't mean they are phonies or in some sort of denial. Maybe they just cope with things differently. My husband and I are polar opposites in this way. Everything is the end of the world for him and for me, I figure, "it is what it is. accept and move forward and change what is within my power if I want to."

    • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

      No, I agree with you, and I think this thought within this article merits more attention; possibly its own blog because it was definitely misunderstood. I also consider myself to be an optimistic person who is genuinely happy. However, there are absolutely times when something unpleasant, and the opposite of happy, happens, and I observe some people pretending this isn't true, that this event isn't happening, or that ignoring it makes it not there. That's what I don't agree with. In fact, I think genuinely happy people do acknowledge and deal with their problems, making their positive attitude real, even when not feeling entirely over the moon. Hope this helps. Thanks for your time and thoughts.

      • Robyn says:

        Thanks for the clarification, Jennifer! You have great points. I see what you mean. Thanks for the article and getting us thinking and discussing!

        • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

          Thank you. Sincerely. Look for another article from me shortly that goes into this in more depth.

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