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Tell me honestly—do you feel any of this?
I am happy. In spite of and despite so many things and problems and worries in the world—I am happy. Rather, I choose to be happy.
Trying to look at the bright side always,
Taking small breaks as and when needed,
Listening to my body and mind,
Pursuing my hobbies,
Taking out me-time,
I was doing all of this and much, much more, but something was always missing. I was genuinely happy with my life with everyday chores and routine. In fact, I find semblance in routine, in regularity, but something was still missing.
Do you relate to this too? If yes, let’s ride this rollercoaster together.
In every situation thrown my way, I have trained my mind to detach and then think about it; no more emotional reactions from me. It may seem pompous to say it now, but after years of working on it, I did it and I am damn proud of it. (This is a new habit I am working on—to pat myself generously for my accomplishments and not wait for others to do it. It’s like claiming myself back).
In the back of my mind, there is this gnawing feeling that something is missing. How do I address this? This question has been eating me within for quite some time now. There are no apparent reasons at the physical or emotional level.
So, one day, in an inspired moment (if I may claim so), I chanced upon this thought—what if I am not actually happy but only pretending to be? Can I trick my mind into doing that day in and day out? And thus began a stream of thoughts that didn’t let me sleep for days together. I didn’t know what to make of it.
On one hand, I was so excited with the sheer thought that I could control my mind to such a level, and on the other hand, I was utterly confused if I was living a lie.
This awareness led me to question my behavior and emotions.
As I travelled on this bullet train of my thoughts, I asked myself these 10 questions:
1. Did I want to share my happiness with others? When we are happy, we would want to share it, even if it was a smile or a compliment. Being kind increases our happiness many folds.
2. Was I sweating over the small stuff—daily chores not being done on time, spilled coffee, a sometimes messy house…the list is endless. What was my reaction to daily life?
3. Was I appreciating little things? A random song on the radio, a flower that just bloomed.
4. Am I proud of other people’s success? Was I reading a tinge of jealousy in myself?
5. Do I live in the present or keep dwelling on the past?
6. Am I in a healthy relationship with myself and everyone around me? Do I forgive easily or do I cling onto small resentments?
7. Do I calm down myself if I am in a stressful situation? How often am I aware of my first reaction to any given situation?
8. What has the ability to kill my joy? What spoils my mood? What are the irritants?
9. Do I talk to people easily? Am I open-minded to a new point of view?
10. Have I accomplished what I set out for? The setting of goals—short-term and long-term—helped me analyze my own commitment levels and the efforts I was putting into achieving them.
Answering these questions gave me the much-required reality check of what I was lacking and where. It gave an insight into my shortcomings and the issues I needed to work upon. I realized that I had shoved some of the negative experiences under the carpet without properly addressing them. They were playing havoc with my system internally.
When one is on the path of self-discovery, it is easier to get delusional about our own selves or create illusions that satisfy our own egos. Hence, checks and balances have to be placed in the system, which do not let us travel on the wrong path. It stops us from running on autopilot and brings forth the subconscious to the conscious.
The field of positive psychology reinforces that there are both light and dark sides in everyone. We have to learn to focus on positive sentiments, resilience, relationships, and achievements.
But that does not in any sense of the word mean that we ignore the negative emotions or issues. We acknowledge them, witness them, work on them to address our issues but do not give in to them. We do not let them dictate our actions and our intentions. We make conscious choices to move past them to establish a new behavior pattern that is healing as well as productive for us.
Without the tinge of sadness, happiness cannot exist—and perhaps, that was my mistake. Like everything in the universe exists in pairs, so do happiness and sadness. We can train our minds to bring forth the positive and joy into our conscious habits and behavior patterns so that we can better our reactions to any given situation. But we cannot eliminate sadness with a “Thanos click.”
This is in no way an easy feat. Be prepared for roadblocks and detours.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ Carl Jung.
This whole process of making the unconscious conscious made me realize what was I missing all this time: I was not aware of the impulses controlling my behavior and they were making a dent in my happiness journey all the time.
Five simple steps that helped me reinforce positive habits:
Focusing on positive
Writing about a positive experience every day, however small it may be, help me put things into better perspective. It gives meaning to things that are important for me as an individual and for my growth.
Releasing the physical energy brought clarity to the thought process. It helps me focus more and of course, the endorphins keep my mood elevated.
Giving words to your positive emotions strengthens that emotion and we are able to relate to it in a more fruitful way. Every day, write down few things that you are grateful for, even if you find yourself in a repetitive mode.
Keeping a corner clear and a fixed time to sit peacefully and simply concentrating on the breath helps to remove the chaotic aura of multitasking and work.
Do a positive deed
Maybe compliment someone, send a positive, personalized message to a friend or email to a colleague, help your partner with something you’ve not done before—anything that you can relate to. Make it small but make it a habit. It doesn’t have to be huge to take a lot of your time and effort because then sustaining it will become difficult.
These five habits are helping me work constructively toward a better and happier me.
Finding happiness and being joyful as a “being” is a process. Don’t be harsh with yourself and forgive yourself like you forgive kids and maybe more.