I recently went to see a woman speak on the Science of Happiness. She was an engaging, informative, entertaining speaker and I really enjoyed myself. I even patted myself on the back because I do so many of the things she recommended to be happy:
- Eat right
- Get plenty of rest
- Choose work you love
- Create meaningful, supportive relationships
- Spend your money on experiences not things
- Put away your cell phone when you are with others
- And meditate.
Guess what? I woke up the next morning feeling very depressed.
And for a moment I was mad at that speaker, because I had done all the right things and I didn’t have the prize. You see, my long term intimate relationship ended not so long ago, so I am in a period of loss and grief. Which is appropriate, and healthy even. But it highlighted for me the frantic search in this culture to be happy.
We spend so much energy in search of the right relationship, the right job, the right body, the right friends, the right therapist, the right answer, the right moral code, all so that we will finally win the prize of being happy. Like Happy is that Garden of Eden we are enroute to, and once we reach our destination, we will reside there forever.
Then one day we meander through the valley of the shadow of death and we think we have lost our way. Failed. Lost the prize. Or maybe we have been in that valley much of our lives, and we wonder what is inherently wrong with us?
News Flash: We are not on a journey to happiness. We are on a journey to wholeness, to connection with Source, Spirit, God, or however you name the mystery. That journey includes travel up sunny mountaintops, down through dark valleys, and across dry arid deserts. And there is no road map. But there are also no wrong turns — just different roads that all lead home. Personal and spiritual growth requires exposing of all the places we are in error and distortion and duality. It involves surrender and loss and letting go. It doesn’t always feel good.
But searching for eternal sunshine is hollow, unfulfilling, and quite frankly, exhausting. And it leads nowhere.
Taking care of yourself and creating a meaningful life can do a lot to enable a deep sense of well-being. But if you haven’t fully met yourself, you can have it all and still feel empty.
So in addition to doing all the right things to attain happiness, I find it important to be gentle with myself while summoning the courage and honesty to acknowledge and meet the places in me that feel sad, angry, afraid, or depressed. In fact, the willingness to face those less than lovely days with humility and compassion, to reach out and receive support when things aren’t so rosy builds a confidence and a freedom and a sense of integrity that is the strongest foundation I know of on which to build a happy life.
These days I am so grateful for my dear friends who are sharing this amazing if not always pleasant journey with me. They have been the wind beneath my wings lately. And I am grateful for the Pathwork teachings, which encourage and support me in welcoming all of who I am and what I experience.
We are human. Life is a twisting, winding path. We have strengths and limitations. We have a diverse array of emotions. It’s not necessary to reject some of them to have others. And when we allow the full range of our emotional landscape, we connect with the deep peace and joy and love that underlies any surface level of emotion. Because that is who we truly are at our core. It’s not something we have to attain.
I’d love to have you join me in sharing the ups and downs of your journey! What is your secret to Happiness?
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TREASURE IN THE DEPTHS: Identifying Hidden Obstacles to Fulfillment.
I find fulfillment and happy when I feel I belong & feel connected with people (family & friends)& with the environment. I have always been told I am a kind and gentle soul, I can add that I do not like to live a life of lies. I don’t like to play with peoples heart and get attracted to people who share my tendencies. I have led a life filled with challenges, but inspite of my downs, I felt I had that sense of belonging & connectivity which bought me joy in my life.
But, around 2009, during the economical downturn slowly all that changed. I lost my job, like 80% did in my profession. It took me 4 years to find employment, and that too took a job that didn’t pay as well. In late 2012, I felt emotionally drained and needy but felt extremely alone and outed. Most people around me were carrying on and enjoying their life and slowly were forgetting me. I found myself very alone, abandoned, a burden and useless.
When I finally became employed in 2013, I found myself trying to catch my breath so I can now start saving some of the declined relationships. It was frustrating, as I felt that this chase was one-directional. One person (my young-adult daughter), that is extremely dear to me, in those years of darkness, had moved on with her life. Inspite of my moving close to her, she continues to be too busy to spend time with me. So, this continues to cause immense pain mixed with so many other emotions like worry, anger, worry, worry and how do I understand & fix things. For years, I have been challenged with a health issue that is limiting and effects my quality of life. You see, I have not been able to drive for years + I moved to Richmond about a year ago, so am new in town.
Pathwork entered my life about 9 months ago quite accidently. Just a few months ago I have started to create some friendships that seem genuine, and which makes me feel connected again. Thru pathwork, I am now learning how to allow myself to feel and not get broken by sad & abandonment feelings. I have always been a positive person, and have buried my sad feelings & believed in living seeing the glass half full vs half empty. I felt fulfilled with that philosophy but it didn’t seem to be working so effectively when I found myself isolated and shut out from my close family, friends + employment world. I recognize I have a lot to learn but for now I am glad that I have found Pathwork (a spiritual group I have been searching for most of my adult life) and an amazing teacher like Beth (who I can drive to on my own). Just in the last couple of months, a nice unexpected surprise from this group, are some developing quality friendships. My isolated world feels a bit more connected. I have new friends who genuinely enjoy my company, and I am so excited as they receive all I can offer as I really do enjoy sharing & helping. I look forward in getting to know these new people in my life as they offer me their time and make me feel important again. I am still working on being patient as I repair the broken relationship. I am immensely grateful for the good spirits around me that drew me to pathwork, thru which I slowly am feeling connected again as I go through the process of healing…
Thanks for sharing, Richa! It’s great to have you in our intimate community.
Beth, I always love reading these. This one was especially timely. Thank you
Your welcome, Susan! Thanks so much for reading along!
You had me as soon as you said that you felt depressed the day after the happiness talk. I can very much relate with that. I appreciate the gentle self correction I received from reading your blog. Chasing “happiness” is a trap I fall in easily. I often feel unable to take a risk for fear of making the “wrong” choice & if the consequences are “bad” then I’ve surely messed up. The list the presenter gave are great tools but all the sleep I need will not bring me to myself. A great reminder to come home to myself, especially when I “should” be happy in a given circumstance and I’m not. Thanks Beth!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Tiffiny! Yes, chasing happiness can be such a trap. Thank goodness there is always an exit door!