The Happiness Factor

The other day, I had the most amazing discussion with an older woman, in her early 80s, named Joyce M. I met her at an alteration shop, and she watched as I tried on my bridesmaid dress, waiting to be pinned. She told me how beautiful it was, and we chatted about her wedding, and the colors she made her bridesmaids wear. I joked and told her that I already knew what colors I’d have for mine, and that I couldn’t wait to get married again (this is actually true, even though I currently don’t have a boyfriend nor actual prospects). After I was all changed and ready to go, we stepped outside, and continued to converse by our cars in the sweltering July sun. I told her that, although marriage would be great, I was currently focusing on myself, and how to become more like myself everyday. She indicated that my focus was coincidental, as she had attended a family reunion the previous weekend, and her nephew had given a presentation on the pursuit of happiness.

Pancakes

He discussed a study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is considered the longest study ever (75 years and counting). The study follows 724 adult men throughout their life, examining their experiences and quality of life, but the crux of the study essentially investigates what happiness is and was for each of those men. What was coincidental on my end is that just a couple of hours prior, I had a great discussion with a friend on this very topic, about what happiness is and what it looked like for us. Many times, people comment on the way you live your life, and interject their feelings of disapproval, because they aren’t in your specific situation. They find it mind-boggling that your version of happiness isn’t reflective of THEIR version of happiness. The thing is…your happiness is your responsibility, and no one else’s. You aren’t responsible for their happiness, their relationships, their careers – that is something they ultimately have control over. What we make of our lives is a direct result of our own decisions, and in those decisions, practicing mindfulness and self-guidance.

Kitty Mail Slot

The discussion was so timely, because although I consider myself fairly content, I’m not sure if I’ve yet attained that goal of ultimate happiness. It was as if the Universe was speaking to me, and causing me to be mindful of my present, instead of focusing too heavily on my past or future. Joyce mentioned that her nephew presented a book during his presentation, by Dr. Seuss, entitled, “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”. How many of us have not even bothered to glance at that book, because it appears to be a children’s book? But oh, it’s definitely not, and it’s filled with a variety of advice on how life’s ups and downs will halt us, spin us around, even bring us to extreme moments of despair, but we have to keep moving. We can’t let past failures cloud our futures and our pursuits.I’m learning to be open to new situations and people, and to be careful to not close myself off because I think I already know better. Sometimes we have to start giving new and different experiences a chance, because we won’t know unless we actually try.

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I would often talk about finding love, and wanting to be in love, but at the first sign of viable interest, I would close my heart’s windows and shut the blinds. After a failed marriage, there was nothing in me that could even consider trusting another human again. If once upon a time I had a love so deep and intense, but one we both could ultimately dispose of so callously, what hope was there for something equal or better? There were days and nights that I could do nothing but cry in emotional and spiritual pain, unable to verbalize the exact cause of my hurt. As a result, I made sure that my walls were reinforced with iron and industrial grade concrete, and every once in a while I would make sure there was a steel gate to slide across that wall too!

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In the past couple of years of self-reflection and self-actualization, I’ve learned that while it’s quite alright to be cautious, sometimes you have to make space in that wall for a door too. I realized I was only going to receive the joy I longed for, the spiritual and mental peace I craved, if I took the risk of being open to change. Of course, the catch-22 is that no one else can determine what those risks will entail, because they can’t define what my happiness looks like. I’ve had to make the conscious decision to search for and create my own contentment. It has been difficult, because it has taken a lot of effort, and extreme soul-searching, but it is possible. I’m now living by the words of the famous Seuss, every day I wake up: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

 

 

 

It’s Better to Heal…Than to Hurt

It’s very easy to run away from and avoid the reality of our lives. It’s even easier to harbor hatred and feigned indifference, than it is to examine ourselves and determine the role we’ve played in the demise of something that was once deemed important and beautiful. Hatred is not a clear-cut emotion, but is typically a mask for something deeper, usually deep-seated pain and hurt. When people hate, it is because they are too emotionally immature to deal with the heartache they’re experiencing, the hurt they believe is caused by another person or situation. In actuality, no one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Your emotions are your responsibility, and you ultimately have the control over how they are expressed. But how do we wade through our insecurities and elevate ourselves in a way that causes anger and hatred to be fleeting emotions, that aren’t allowed to take up residence in our souls?

Pinata Murderer

Practice self-love. This sounds so simple, yet so many people don’t know how to accomplish this. I sometimes blame it on our modern society and the new cultural expectations we seem to have. We are so dependent on the acceptance and love of others that when we don’t have it, we feel empty inside. We constantly seek the approval, the love…the admiration of others, and when it’s not reciprocated, we tumble down the rabbit hole of despair. You, and only you, have the power to create and manifest your own happiness. How much you love yourself should not be contingent upon how much someone loves you.

Self Love

Do NOT mirror emotions. This is a difficult one for me, personally, because I am an empath by nature – meaning I sense and feel the emotions of those around me quite easily. If I walk into a room and there are people being jovial and lighthearted, my first inclination is to do the same. On the flip side, if I’m sitting next to you, and you are angry, chances are, I will find myself slowly getting angry as well. My soul tends to be a little emotional sponge that wants to share in the experiences of others, even when those experiences are detrimental to my well-being and alter my mood. You have to be extremely cognizant of this in yourself, which I am still learning to be. It takes a LOT of extra work, but if I’m being attacked with negativity, I actively remind myself that I have control over my feelings and cannot allow infiltration by the hurt party. Count to ten if you have to, but do NOT match their emotional level. Your spirit will thank you.

Twin Horses

Be aware of your feelings. Pain can be a confusing place. Someone says or does something we perceive to be cruel, and the first thought an emotionally immature person has is to “get back” at them. Did you know that the more supposed revenge you seek, the more negative energy you bring on yourself, and the more horrible you feel (Unless of course, you are a completely narcissistic person who is incapable of taking responsibility for your actions and their resulting consequences)? There’s supposedly a very thin line between love and hate, but that’s because the line is a fallacy. Hatred does not exist without love, period. It is just the level that reveals itself when you are unable to cope with the pain that occurred within that love. Instead of dealing with the underlying feeling that is making you lash out, you instead blame any and everything in your life on the person you thought caused it, and you try to hurt them to match what YOU feel inside. Meanwhile, because they’ve matured and actively practice the art of self-love, they’re just deflecting all of your attacks with grace while continuously praying for your peace. Stop attacking and become aware of what you’re really feeling. If necessary, see a therapist.

Bloody Radishes

I realize that a lot of this may seem simpler than it is, because the level of passion behind the emotion you’re feeling may seem larger than life. Unfortunately, the truth is, you can’t run from your feelings, no matter how far you try to escape. Continuing to try to cause hurt to others, instead of focusing on your own healing, tends to hurt you more in the long run. Or, in some cases, you end up causing residual hurt to those around you, and those closes to your targets – and then they begin to build resentment within their hearts. Stop trying to actively breed a home of negativity – if you continue, you may wake up one day and find there’s no one left to lash out to.

 

Unveiling the Unavailable

I feel as if I haven’t written about relationships in a while, and the inspiration hit when I was having a discussion with a friend on the way home from work today. We were dissecting something I’d read that examined being attracted to and attracting unavailable people (both physically and emotionally), and ultimately, forging faux-lationships with them. Either the person approaches them, expecting them to be receptive to their advances, or, they find themselves drawn to those who are either in relationships, married, or just not ready for committment. This topic can be a little heavy, because people feel judged if they’re currently in them, or have been in them. I truly believe that, for the majority of people, they don’t go out actively seeking unavailable people. If anything, they like to believe that they are doing quite the opposite – avoiding them, ignoring them, or rejecting them. Every once in a while though, one of them finds you and somehow senses your internal unavailability as well, and BAM!, you’re sucked in. Against your better judgement, you engage in behaviors and activities that make you question your moral compass, all the while asking yourself how you allowed yourself to end up in such a situation. Understand that you are not a bad person, and there are a few reasons why this is happening to you (before you read them though, end that toxic relationship!).The convo caused me to do a little bit of further research (cough-cough Google) to find out why this “phenomena” keeps occurring.

Advice

People meet you at your level of broken-ness. This point was brought up in an article I read on Huffington Post, Why Do I Keep Attracting Unavailable People. It discussed how a fear of committment within two different people can somehow draw them to each other, because they recognize attributes, almost subconsciously, in each other. I’ll bring it back to something even more simple: misery indeed loves company. For some strange reason, we tend to believe that others in our dismal situation will somehow give us space to improve on ourselves. In reality, that broken energy is just being pushed back and forth between the two people. Instead of addressing their wounds, they’re feeding off of each other, and as a result, never completely heal themselves.

Pretty Girl

Having someone who’s unavailable gives you space to be unavailable as well. We all probably know of someone who has been/is a side dude or chick, and seems to be comfortable in that space. Sure, they complain about always being alone at night, and not being able to parade their love out in public, but for the most part, they’re happy with the situation they’re in. They claim that it’s easy, that it doesn’t require much from them, that it’s better than a full-fledged relationship. But guess what? It’s NOT. Not easy, and surely not better. If anything, it feeds the painful parts of you with more pain, and keeps you immobile. You get stuck putting enormous amounts of energy and life into something that shouldn’t even have come alive. Sure, you’re busy, and it seems like a quick fix, but we all make time for the things we deem important. When you find an available person that you’re really feeling, best believe you will do everything in your power to make room for them in your life.

Burning Bottle

You have daddy/mommy issues. Okay, hear me out on this one. I’m not suggesting that you need to go see a psychiatrist asap or anything. Many of us, especially if you grew up where I grew up, didn’t have the healthiest of home lives to mimic or learn from. Some of us had absentee parents, and whether we want to admit it or not, that dynamic has shaped our relationships. We’re afraid of getting deeper, of truly entrusting our love with someone else, so being in the faux-lationship is the best possible option. It allows us to relieve ourselves of having to be vulnerable and potentially being hurt, but you know what else it does? It also prevents us from being open to receiving the love we truly crave. Holding on to that which isn’t ours serves as a repellant to what we should be embracing, what we deserve. Yes, it’s great that you can live in a fantasy world that doesn’t require you to struggle in the deep end from time to time, but for how long? At what point do you decide that the shallow end just doesn’t fill your soul?

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