I’m sitting around this morning feeling good. I got a great night’s sleep and had a healthy breakfast.
Suddenly, I begin to feel guilty. Why?
My wife is bustling around looking for something. “I feel guilty,” I tell her.
“Because I am not helping you,” I reply. I guess that must be it.
“You don’t need to help me. I’m fine. If I need you, I promise to ask,” she reassured.
Alright, off the hook. I wonder if I should go eat some more. Wait, that will just make me feel bad. Forget it.
Next thought – it is OK to just sit here feeling good?
It is! Amazing. I am 45 years old, a coach to people all over the world. I am living my dream of raising a family while working from home. Happily married. I am smart and successful. Lots of good things going on. Yet, I still need to consciously decide that it is OK to feel good.
I’ve had several conversations with Nathaniel Branden in recent years. He calls this phenomenon happiness anxiety. Happiness anxiety occurs when happiness was not familiar growing up and we have not granted ourselves final permission to live in a state of inward peace as adults. When we do feel happy, we unconsciously seek to escape it.
The escape can come in the from of guilt, or anxiety (waiting for the other shoe to drop) or any number of maneuvers. The end result – happiness doesn’t last.
What’s the cure for happiness anxiety? Give yourself permission to feel good! Catch yourself unwittingly seeking to escape moments of happiness and raise your consciousness around what you are doing. Question whether or not you need to escape a good feeling in this moment, or if it is OK to hang on to it.
Still sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee. Life is pretty good.