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.
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