Cultivating Happiness: a personal quest

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Happiness, for some people it is like an elusive dream, and for others it just seems to come naturally.   Yet for all people, it is not a permanent emotion.  Like all emotional states, it comes in waves.  You may be very happy one minute, and then get reminded of something from your past and just like that, its gone.  Or perhaps you had a great day but then your child colors on your walls, or you spouse forgets to take the trash out, or your teacher gave you a bad grade, or maybe its just because you didn’t like the way you looked in the mirror.  It happens to all of us, and it can happen at any time.

It happened to me just today, which is the reason why I’m writing this article.  Everyone has something in their past that isn’t pleasant, and today that something called me on my phone.  We grow, we change, we leave our past and the people who didn’t grow with us behind.  Since beginning my journey to health and happiness, (and it has been one rocky perilous road!)  I have grown in leaps and bounds.  The last thing I want to do is move backwards.  The phone call caught me off guard, I had deleted this person’s number from my phone (which perhaps was a mistake, if I had known who was calling I wouldn’t have picked it up) And now here they were, talking about things that I didn’t want to talk about, making me think about things I didn’t want to think about.  My good day was suddenly turned upside down.    I, who had believed I was immune to stress at this point in my life, was put to the test.  Would I be able to pull through this unscathed?  But more importantly, would I be able to practice what I preach?

Stress and unhappiness go hand in hand, and I shamelessly admit that at that moment I was stressed.  All the signs were there, my pulse was racing, I was flushed.   I was at a loss for words and all I could think of was, “Hang up, oh my god, just hang up.”  Yet on the  conversation went, and when I did finally hang up, I was visibly shaken.

The first thing that I thought to do was take a walk.  So I put on my shoes and left my house and headed into the one place that makes me happy, the woods by my house.  The next thing I thought of was to talk deep calming breaths, so that is just what I did.   And of course, I knew I had to meditate.  Meditation lowers blood pressure  clears the mind and can bring answers that we didn’t know we had within us.  It worked, I knew what I had to do.

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My neighbors were all outside so I went to join them.  We talked, we laughed, I even mentioned to them about the harrowing phone call.  Just getting it off my chest felt so much better.  Slowly, all my stress was gone.  I was happy again.  I had passed the test.

Perhaps one of my biggest strengths in my refusal to give in to stress, my refusal to be unhappy   But then again, I’ve been taught how to cope with negative emotions.

If we are alive, we are going to go through different states of being.  You can’t always be happy.  So knowing that we can’t avoid depression, anxiety,  and STRESS in general, it becomes a matter of  how we deal with those situations  that truly makes the difference.  We must retrain our brains to think positively, to “not sweat the small stuff” as the saying goes.  But first, we must be content with what we have, and realize that even if its not a lot to go on, its enough.

I realize now, hours later, that I was stressed not because this person was  calling my phone, but  because my brain was sucked suddenly into the past.    I had forgotten to live in the present moment.  I was creating my own stress!  Regardless of the situation, the very nature of the word “situation” means it is outside of us.  We control our reaction.  We have to remember that the emotion of stress is just your fight or flight nature, and unless its  a matter of life or death, its truly trivial.  I’m reminded of the book (that I haven’t read by the way) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and its all small stuff) by Richard Carlson

Happiness must be cultivated.   It must be nourished and we must learn what to do when unhappy situations arise.  The suggestions I make, to go for a walk, take deep calming breaths, meditate, they are not new suggestions.  I didn’t just make them up.  Lots of people have been saying the same thing for a  very long time.  I am proof, however, that they work.  Yoga, spending time with people that make us smile, removing the people that bring with them negativity, eating a nutrient dense diet, and making sure we have time for ourselves, are all ways to  cultivate our happiness and in turn reduce stress.

Everyday brings new challenges, but they are just that, challenges to be overcome and conquered.  The only way to fail is if you stop trying.  We need to learn how to deal with our daily stress, how to deal with our big once-in-a-while giant stress, and remember that in the end, we don’t even have to stress.  Most of all, however, we need to  learn to create our happiness.   I wish everyone could take these lessons to heart.  I wish everyone could see the happiness already there.  Its always there, its just a matter or retraining your brain to see it.  Yes, its possible, you just have to try, and it is so vitally important to our health.

**Editing to add a comment from my sometimes guest writer Hans de Rycke, who I agree with on so many issues:

There are many thing that we can do that will benefit us. For instance,

  • a healthy diet
  • drinking plenty of clean water
  • avoid chlorinated water as it is poisonous
  • positive thinking
  • enough sleep and relaxation
  • physical exercise
  • connecting with nature
  • Listening to music or making music
  • intellectual stimulation

Remaining interested in life, creativity that nurtures the soul, and, last but by no means least, time alone!
It is only when we spend time alone that we can communicate with our Higher Power, get in touch with with our thoughts and feelings and ground ourselves.
Prayer and meditation or quiet time is necessary to achieve a healthy energy system.Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it.

Thanks Hans!!

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8 thoughts on “Cultivating Happiness: a personal quest

  1. There are many thing that we can do that will benefit us. For instance, a healthy diet, drinking plenty of clean water, avoid chlorinated water as it is poisonous, positive thinking, enough sleep and relaxation, physical exercise, connecting with nature, Listening to music, or making music, intellectual stimulation. Remaining interested in life, creativity that nurtures the soul, and, last but by no means least, time alone!
    It is only when we spend time alone that we can communicate with our Higher Power, get in touch with with our thoughts and feelings and ground ourselves.
    Prayer and meditation or quiet time is necessary to achieve a healthy energy system.Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it.

    • Very well said! I agree as always, with everything lol. I’m sure this will not be my last post on the topic of happiness and stress, as it’s a huge issue for so many people and its perhaps the most important!

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