“If you had one goal, and that was to feel good, you would never again need to hear another word from anyone. You would live successfully and happily and in a way of fulfilling your life’s purpose ever after.”
This is one of my favorite quotes. I have many favorite quotes, and I enjoy sharing them far and wide, but more than that, I enjoy picking them apart and trying to figure out how to turn a pithy bit of what sounds like ingenious advice, into a life-enhancing habit. And this seems like an easy one. Feel good. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But many of us might not think so. How does one go about just feeling good when the things around them are bad?
Well, here’s the thing. It’s not what’s happening around you that makes you feel bad in most cases. It’s not what other people are doing or not doing, or where you live or how much money you have. It’s what you think and feel about those things. Short of a health crisis or the loss of a loved one, nothing else really has the power to make you feel bad. And we’ll come back to those great big things too. So let’s look at this.
Here are the key things. First, we have to get a very firm handle on the simple truth that it’s
not anyone else’s job to make us happy. If we really truly believe that, then the notion of, “I’d be happy if only my husband would change,” or “if only my kids would help out more,” or “if only (anyone) would do or stop doing (anything)” would never occur to you again. You see?
Second, we have to get just as firm a grasp on the concept that it’s not our job to make anyone else happy. First, because it’s impossible to do. No matter how hard we try, we can never do enough to please everyone in our lives because they all want different things and without being in their heads, we can’t even be sure what all those things are. And because no one can make anyone happy. Your one and only job is to choose to be happy yourself.
The third thing is to live in the current moment. It’s cliche, but think about it, pick it apart. What does it mean? When you’re walking or sitting or resting or trying to sleep, what’s going through your mind? A million things, I know. But most of them fall into one of two categories: Past, that is the reliving of what happened yesterday (or last week or last month) and thinking I should have done this or I should have said that. Or future, which is worrying about tomorrow, or next week or next month and thinking I’ll never make that deadline, we’re going to run out of money, that huge bill is due, I’ve got some unpleasant thing I have to do.
How often do we really stop to just BE in the present moment? To feel the soft pillow beneath our head, the warm body beside us, the snuggly covers keeping us warm. How often do we look around the room and smile at the colors we picked or the curtains we chose, or take comfort in the pictures on our walls? How many times do we stop what we’re doing to pause and just bask in where we are in that very moment? Almost never.
When you are worrying, you are actively creating your future. The thoughts you think become the beliefs you believe, and what you believe is what comes true for you. If that doesn’t make you want to stop worrying, I don’t know what will.
So when the worries come, ask yourself why you’re thinking about this thing that makes you feel so badly. Can you fix it right now? If so, do it and get it off your mind. If not, then why dwell on it? Why not think about something that makes you feel good instead? You’re in charge of what you dwell on, after all. No one else, just you.
“Selfishly seek joy, for unless you are in your joy, you have nothing to offer anyone else.”
Do you know anyone who is always complaining? About life, their marriage, their bills, their job, their kids, etc? It’s exhausting and draining to be around them, isn’t it?
Do you know anyone who is always upbeat, positive, happy? Do you notice how you always feel better when you’re around them?
So here’s your question. Which person do you want to be? Why not be the person that others feel better around? Why not beam with so much peace, serenity, and calm that everyone around you feels calmer? Why not beam so much joy and giddiness and love of life that everyone around you feels happier?
Now back to those big bad things that life can bring us. Health crises, losses of those we love (we don’t really lose them you know, but that’s another blog post.) Studies of happiness have shown that those people who have a normal state of happiness that’s in the high range, tend to bounce back from tragedies more quickly and deal with them more healthily. Those who are always down, tend to be crippled by the same types of losses. People return to what is their “norm.” What’s yours?
Dogs don’t worry. Dogs are always, always in the moment. And they find more joy in their short lifespans than humans do in our much longer ones. Be in the moment, and find joy in what is there. Like a dog with an apple or a mud-puddle or new snow or a sprinkler, find something to be utterly giddy about in every moment of your existence. Make happiness be your normal state. And every single thing in your life will improve…not just a little bit–it’ll snowball. And it will begin immediately.
Choose Joy. It takes nothing more than accepting that it is a choice, and realizing that you are the one in control of making it. And then consistent practice, every day, with every thought, choosing to focus on what feels good and refusing to dwell on what doesn’t.