Years ago one of my mentors told me it takes great strength to be happy.
At the time she said this, I was very intrigued…..and also very unhappy.
I also stayed very unhappy for a great many years afterwards.
But I never forgot her words.
They compelled me to periodically confront the unhappiness within me, like a journalist intent upon exposing the presence and mechanics of a long-running and very successful scam.
I wanted to know everything about my unhappiness.
In this way, questions like these became a standard part of my daily inner dialogue.
- How did my unhappiness start?
- What perpetuates it?
- Why do I feel so comfortable – if unhappy – in its company?
- What is unhappiness afraid of?
- What would life be like without unhappiness as my constant companion?
- What am I afraid of?
- What is the worst that could happen (if I decided to try for a life with less unhappiness in it?)
Out of this ongoing questioning process, these two key facts have become my most trusted navigators.
- Unhappiness is afraid of….happiness.
- I am also afraid there is no such thing as “happiness” (even though somehow, inexplicably, I totally believe unhappiness exists!)
From here, my search for the inner strength to experience happiness has become fueled by a surprisingly simple daily practice.
I have chosen to believe in the good things in my life.
For instance, I believe in their presence. I believe in their goodness. I believe in their trustworthiness.
I believe the good things present in my life have had many predecessors (even though I have mostly failed to recognize them in the past).
I believe today’s good things are harbingers of future good things to come.
I believe whatever I focus on grows and multiplies.
I believe if I focus on unhappiness, I will attract more unhappiness (either in spirit or in truth, or both)….and if I focus on happiness, I will lure ever more happiness into my life.
In this, I have also forcibly, consciously, knowingly, willingly, and actively chosen to confront my distrust and skepticism of the good things in my life.
I have asked my distrust, my skepticism, to justify themselves – to provide proof of their allegations against happiness in general, and in my life in particular (which, so far, they have totally failed to do to my satisfaction).
Finally, I have exposed the truth of both unhappiness and happiness in my life and in this world.
They are both real. They are both tangible. They are both options I can choose.
For the record, I choose happiness.
Today’s Takeaway: If you had to rank your daily experience of life along a spectrum from extreme unhappiness to extreme happiness, where would you put yourself? Are you happy with where you are? Do you want to move further along the spectrum in one direction or the other? If so, what might help facilitate your journey?
Woman on a bench image available from Shutterstock.