Many of us just want to be happy because we have happiness as one of our main values and goals in life. However, something that is important to realize is that if our value is in happiness, yet our world is full of pain, suffering and difficulties, when things get difficult, it can be very hard to remain true to this value. With this we then disregard our emotions to try to gain happiness. We may self soothe through destructive means to try to gain that happiness. Furthermore, I think that if we choose happiness as our lifelong goal, it is going to bite us in the butt one day. We cannot always be happy, so choosing happiness as a value might leave us disappointed in a number of different ways. If I choose contentment for example as a value, how will this change the outcome of my feelings? Contentment as a value is going to set me up differently than happiness because it is going to allow for the reality of life that there are some really shitty things that go on.
So what do we do when life hits to the fan so to speak? I think that when difficulties come, we need to recognize that life is full of hard times and be able to accept this as it is without judgment. Some days are difficult and it is better to acknowledge the negative feelings and emotions because they are probably telling us something.
“Some days are difficult and it is better to acknowledge the negative feelings and emotions because they are probably telling us something.”Geordy Murphy MA, CCC
- Acknowledge our emotions without judgment.
- Recognize pain and suffering is a part of life.
- Re-evaluate our values
The other thing that might be helpful in the midst of our unhappiness, is to re-evaluate your values. What does it look like to choose a value like joy instead of happiness. Joy is something that I can choose to have while still being real and genuine about difficulties. So many of us want to just be happy. These are not quick fixes, but I believe as a culture we need to not be afraid of those times that are genuinely really difficult. It seems like we rush through the hard feelings rather than asking, “what is this feeling, why is it here, what is it telling me? We can explore with curiosity and learn from it potentially.
“It seems like we rush through the hard feelings rather than asking “what is this feeling, why is it here, what is it telling me? We can explore with curiosity and learn from it potentially.”
When Trying is Not Enough
Aren’t you tired of trying so hard to be happy? Sometimes we have to acknowledge the hard and be okay with this. It can actually be harmful to us if we are striving for happiness in the midst of difficulty.
SO WHAT THEN? DO I JUST GIVE UP? Well it depends on what you mean by giving up. When we talk about giving up on striving towards happiness, we are talking about more acceptance of the full range of emotions we are feeling. It means that we are giving up the notion of putting on a face for others as a way of hiding what is going on, and dealing with the emotions. As a way of acknowledging how we are feeling, we can deal with the emotions and do the maintenance on our selves to then move us in the direction of being more at peace, grounded and possibly happy again. Something that we have to realize is that the body knows you aren’t really doing well, so when we go against what the body is telling us, eventually it will say no. Gabor Mate has an excellent book called “When the Body Says No.” We must realize that our mental health and physical health is very much connected. It does not mean we sit around and mope when we are feeling sad, but to come up with some strategies to process and deal with the feelings. Have you ever thought that what you are feeling is actually legitimate? so how are you processing what you have gone through or are going through?
Our Brains are Adaptive: How are You Processing?
Something that is dear to my heart is that our brains are actually wired towards growth and healing. Our brains are constantly taking in information, and trying to make sense of it in order to adapt and help us to grow. In the event of traumatic experiences, we try to make sense of these memories, but they are often not processed adaptively, meaning that we may use maladaptive ways of coping.
What we do in therapy, is actually take a look at these areas in a safe environment, when ready and we are able to help you to come up with more adaptive ways of responding to trauma.
From my personal experience I have benefited from EMDR therapy and have also seen it been effective in helping people to process difficult memories and come up with more adaptive ways of thinking about their past experiences, while also having a better outlook for future events.
When Will You Invest in Your Self
I think it is important that we realize the importance of our mind, body and spirit in our mental health journey. What are you putting into your body, mind and spirit? What thoughts are there? How do you speak towards your self? What is your tone? Are you harder on your self than others?
What are you feeding your body? Are you feeding it nutrients that will help your body fight off infection, disease and give you the proper fuel for your day?
Finally, how are you nurturing your soul. Do you have a spiritual practice? Do you pray, meditate, reflect, journal. How are you nurturing your spirit.
When I was diagnosed with a critical illness I found out fast the importance of exercise, nutrition and my thought life in my ability to survive. Thankfully I have a good routine now and a great team of people to help keep me on track.
Please feel free to contact me for more info on how iMentalHealth might help you reach your mental health goals.