The Key to Happiness

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible. We are a product of our memories (which live in the past) and our hopes, dreams and fears (which reside in the future for the most part.) What I am going to say is that happiness is something that needs to be worked at….

If you’ve ever learned to play the piano – you didn’t get to the end of the first lesson being able to play a concerto, you didn’t learn the alphabet and then were able to write a dissertation on War and Peace. Rather, you practiced, doing the same thing over and over again until whatever it was you were learning came to you naturally.  Do you remember how hard it was the first time you tried to write your name? Do you even think about it now? It seems to me that the same logic applies to being happy. This is only my opinion but it’s based on the things that I’ve learned over the last few years.

After I lost my husband I grieved and that’s perfectly natural but it was also what I focused on. I needed to cry, to find ways to let out the emotion that was crippling me so I listened to sad music, watched sad films, read sad stories – you get the picture. After a couple of years I found that I wanted to be happy but, each time I was, I was plagued by guilt – how could I be happy when my husband was dead – so I reverted back into a state of depression…..which then became the norm, a safe place if you will. Essentially, I was comfortable with being depressed.

The trouble with depression is that it’s so easily reinforced. We find a moment’s happiness but then tell ourselves ‘ something will come along to screw it up, I just know it’ and guess what? It does. Then we tell ourselves that we were right (everyone loves to be right) and obviously that means we don’t deserve to be happy or that, even if we find happiness, something will come along to ruin it. What we have on our hands then is a self-fulfilling prophesy and those are buggers to deal with!

I was trapped in this circle for years and then I started to get pissed off with it. My husband’s death had taught me that life is short and we only get one crack at it so I started to look at ways of breaking this incredibly destructive cycle. I began to search for inspiration on YouTube of all places and, because I was looking for it, I found it. There are meditations which will calm you mind and body, there are TED talks which explain our thought processes and what we can do to change them, there are yoga practices, we have Tony Robbins and Brene Brown, Sadhguru and Ajahn Brahm. In short, there is all the material we need to kick start our minds out of depression and into happiness.

So why isn’t everyone happy? Because it isn’t easy to change years of mental and emotional programming. There is comfort in the familiar, there is a certain self-indulgence in misery and our memories, good and bad stay with us. However, being comfortable generally means not moving and, if we don’t move, what’s going to change? Self-indulgence isn’t a bad thing unless we over-indulge – think half a pound of chocolate and a full tub of ice-cream! As for our memories, we can’t erase them but what we can do is change the way that we feel about them, the emotions that we attach to them. I will always feel sad when I think of the last days of my husband’s life but I have attached a very strong feeling of gratitude and love to the fifteen years we spent together before those last few days and, now, that’s what I try and concentrate on but it takes work.

It’s easy, when you’re feeling down, to lie on the sofa and watch TV – it’s hard to get up and go for a walk.

It’s easy to listen to The World’s saddest love songs and cry for a lost love – it’s hard to put on a Madness album and dance around the living room

It’s easy to talk about negative feelings and listen while others do it – it’s hard to put on a set of headphones and follow a guided meditation

Funny thing is, however hard they might be at the start, like everything else, over time, they get easier. What we tell ourselves has a direct effect on our experiences whether they be positive or negative. I’ve realised that we have the ability to create our own narrative and constantly referring to misery, sadness, loss, grief, pain in our words, our writing and our thoughts serves only to reinforce those feelings. Being happy is like anything else – it can be learned but it takes time and effort and I have decided it’s worth the effort. So, am I happy every minute of every day? No, but I’m working on it and life is getting so much easier in the process!

Have an awesome Sunday one and all :O)

Lisa x

Be Seen

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Ever since I lost my husband, 5 years ago now, I have almost been hiding from the World. I don’t mean that I’ve been living like a hermit in a cave but I have stopped myself from making meaningful connections with the world at large. I have my friends but, beyond that, I find it extremely difficult to engage with strangers, I don’t like meeting new people and I don’t like going to places, especially new places, on my own. I always put it down to being shy or unsociable but, last night, I realised it’s because I haven’t wanted to be seen. I haven’t wanted to open myself up to people, be vulnerable in front of them, so I put on a mask and hide behind it. That way I don’t have to engage with other people and, although my mask is only in my mind, it’s also meant that other people haven’t engaged with me and that’s meant that I’ve felt lonely for a very long time. Obviously there was something in me that wanted to try because I have opened up with you guys on occasion but, then again,  I can’t see you and, more importantly, you can’t see me.

I have also, since I was a child, struggled with the idea of not being ‘good enough’. I’ve always tried my best and by no means have I failed at the things I’ve attempted in life but I’ve always felt second rate. I have often put on a veneer of confidence but one word of criticism, one negative judgement and the whole thing would fall apart leaving me feeling ashamed and inadequate. What that does for the psyche is to give me another brick to put in the wall that I’ve surrounded myself with, another excuse not to engage with people and ‘proof’ that I am right not to do so.

This isn’t an idea that I’ve come up with; it was explained to me by a woman called Brene Brown in a YouTube video that I came across last night and it had a profound effect on me. More accurately, there were two things she said that tore away the blinkers from my eyes and made me view my world entirely differently:

Have the courage to be imperfect

Have the courage to be seen

Over 10 million people have watched this 20 minute video – now I understand why. If you haven’t seen it already, I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did and, if you have a spare minute, I’d love it if you’d share something that’s had this kind of profound effect on you.

The last thing I want to say is: I am not perfect and I do, finally, want to be seen.

Lisa

x

Believe in Yourself

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am not religious in any way but I have always found this quote to be incredibly inspirational as it reminds us that we don’t need permission from others to be exactly who we are and that hiding our achievements and diminishing our dreams for the sake of others serves no-one. I think that many of us are much better than we think we are but we have chosen to believe all the bad things that were ever said about us and to learn from the negative experiences that life has thrown at us. Perhaps now is the time to remember the compliments, the admiration, the motivation and, above all, the love that others have shown us. Maybe we should turn our focus towards the positive and our backs on the negative.

Life is a gift which is only ever given to us once. We can bitch, moan and complain about it or we can appreciate it for the priceless, unique, fragile thing that it is. We were not made to exist in a vacuum of self-doubt and fear, we were made to live………it’s all about life ;O)

believe in yourself

 

Have a wonderful day everyone! Lisa xx

Do Not Read This Post…

I mean it, walk away now please, it’s honestly for your own good. Read someone else’s blog or a book, do something in the garden or watch TV but do not, I beg you, read this post.

I mean it, walk away now please, it’s honestly for your own good. Read someone else’s blog or a book, do something in the garden or watch TV but do not, I beg you, read this post.

You’re reading it aren’t you? Why do we do that I wonder? Curiosity, morbid or otherwise, perhaps? It’s like when someone says ‘don’t think of a pink elephant’; what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Yep you’ve got it! ‘Don’t’ is an instruction which gets our attention and ‘pink elephant’, the words that follow, become our focus and all of  sudden we can’t think of anything else other than rose tinted pachyderms.

Anyway, to get back to the point of all this………..

Imagine, if you will, that you have been locked in a room by a person or persons unknown; you went to bed last night and just woke up in this room. You have none of your personal effects other than your PJ’s and the room is completely bare. The walls floor and ceiling are all painted stark white. The only thing in this room in fact, other than you, is a large red button and on it are the words:

DO NOT PRESS

How long would it be before you pushed the button? 5 minutes? An hour? A day? How long would you retain your sanity if you didn’t press the button? You’re locked in a room with nothing to do, read, or listen to; you’d go crazy in no time wouldn’t you?

Pushing the button may cause an explosion that could result in your death but it could be the release for the door which would result in your freedom. Not pushing it means that nothing will change, as far as you know, you will be trapped for ever more in a sterile white box with nothing to do and no-one to talk to…..

What would you do?.

Of course all of this – the white room and the button – is just a metaphor for life.  Only by taking action will we see a change; it may be a positive change or it may be negative, we can never know, but isn’t it better than sitting in a sterile white room, doing nothing, waiting for the end of life or our sanity?

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you

Lisa x

Are You Ordinary?

Be honest, was your first thought ‘no I’m not, bloody cheek!’ Was your second ‘oh crap what if I am ordinary’ followed by a feeling of ‘I need to do something extraordinary….now’. That would certainly be my normal thought process but this morning I questioned why. What’s wrong with having no special or distinctive features (dictionary definition of ordinary in case you were wondering), what’s wrong with being ordinary?

Be honest, was your first thought ‘no I’m not, bloody cheek!’ Was your second ‘oh crap what if I am ordinary’ followed by a feeling of ‘I need to do something extraordinary….now’. That would certainly be my normal thought process but this morning I questioned why. What’s wrong with having no special or distinctive features (dictionary definition of ordinary in case you were wondering), what’s wrong with being ordinary?

bestWe are constantly being told to strive for more, to be the very best that we can be and that’s all very well, there’s nothing wrong with ambition, but what if the heights we are being pushed towards just give us vertigo? In the name of ‘motivation’ we are told to ignore fear, exhaustion, problems and just reach for the stars. We are told that we cannot be successful without confidence, strength, determination and a relentlessly positive attitude. We are constantly having great men and women held up before us as bastions of achievement: the rich, the famous, the beautiful, the athletic, the intellectual, the spiritual. We are presented with so many images of people that we should aspire to that it’s easy to lose our own face when we look in the mirror…..

hayleyMany of these people that we so admire, and often feel so inferior to, have their place in the halls of fame for no other reason than genetics; they are born with a symmetrical face, a beautiful body, intelligence, athletic ability etc. Yet we often feel that we can’t live the life of our dreams if we don’t somehow attain these attributes; what do we think we can do? Go back and change our parents? Of course not, that’s impossible, so we do what we can: we have plastic surgery, we diet, we study, we work out, we push and push and push until we are satisfied……are we ever satisfied?

Invariably no because there will always be someone cleverer, more attractive, more successful, more talented…or is that just what we tell ourselves? We look at those people we aspire to, we want to swap our lives for theirs but what do we really know about them? All we ever really see is a media image, a reflection of their success. How many ‘stars’ have died young from drug overdoses, how many have broken marriages, how many have become a recluse in an attempt to escape their world? How many are accused of assault or are victims of the same? They struggle with their weight, their mental health, alcoholism, drug addiction and often lose those battles over and over again.

Their lives are ‘ordinary’ inasmuch as they suffer from exactly the same challenges that everyone else faces; they are merely extraordinary because they face them under the glare of the spotlight. Yes they have success, fame and money but none of those things will detract from the pain of grief or betrayal; they will suffer no more and no less than someone who has nothing.

To say that we are ‘ordinary’ is to say that we have nothing special that defines us but each of us is unique; there is no-one else absolutely identical to us on the face of this planet. We are one in 7.5 billion. Isn’t that extraordinary? If you found a flower that was a one-off, never seen before or since, wouldn’t you cherish it and protect it from harm? Wouldn’t you shower it with everything it could possibly need to keep it alive and thriving? Wouldn’t you hold it up for the world to see so that you could share its unique beauty, the traits that no other flower shared?

You, exactly as you are, at this very moment, are far from ordinary. If you want to change something about yourself then do it but not because you want to be less ‘ordinary’, you will never be that….

Lisa x

Fighting Amongst Yourself

Have you ever had a fight with yourself? I don’t mean taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and throwing yourself over the back of the sofa, more a fight within the confines of your own mind. I believe the technical term is ‘internal dialogue’, when the exchange is calm and productive, this is more of an ‘internal slanging match’. It’s as though your thoughts suddenly take against each other……

Have you ever had a fight with yourself? I don’t mean taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and throwing yourself over the back of the sofa, more a fight within the confines of your own mind. I believe the technical term is ‘internal dialogue’, when the exchange is calm and productive, this is more of an ‘internal slanging match’. It’s as though your thoughts suddenly take against each other……

Usually it begins with a single, simple phrase that runs through your mind, dragging a negative, but all too willing, emotion along with it

“I can’t do this!”  says the Captain of team doubt, accompanied by Sergeant Anxiety.

“Of course you can, it’s a wonderful opportunity”

The Captain of team positive thinking takes centre stage flanked by a couple of pom pom waving cheer leaders from Camp self-esteem

“I can’t, it’s too much pressure, I know it’s going to be a disaster”

Team doubt have been joined by Fear (always a big player) and a couple of rejects from Camp self-esteem who were kicked out for ‘not playing well with others’.

“We’ve talked about this. You cannot know what will happen; let go of control and just go where life takes you”

cheerleadersTeam positive thinking have recruited self-confidence (who did not come willingly) The cheerleaders are busy chanting motivational quotes and trying to work out how to build a human pyramid with just the two of them.

 

“Oh bugger off you bloody hippy, what do you know about it”

The rejects from Camp self-esteem take this opportunity to wrestle the pom poms from the cheerleaders and start hitting self-confidence over the head with them; not an eager participant in the first place, he makes a run for it.

“I’m you, you blithering idiot!”

At this point both sides will realise what a nonsense their battle really is or they’ll both take serious offence and launch an all out attack on each other, which results in the owner of the warring thoughts having to lie down in a darkened room for a couple of days.

Viewing my inner dialogue scraps like this is the only way that I can keep them from drawing battle lines and really wrecking my life. Today, I enlisted the help of Common Sense who is currently standing in the middle of the two protagonists with his arms folded and a stern ‘don’t mess with me you bastards’ look on his face.

Why is all this necessary? Well, a couple of my closest friends have organised a surprise for me today.

“I don’t like surprises”

“How do you know, you don’t know what it is, that’s the point of surprises”

“Oh, sod off with your bloody logic, I know what I don’t like”

Sorry, guys, I need to go and give Common Sense a hand, they seem to be giving him a wedgie……..

See you later

Lisa x

 

 

Got to be Perfect?

In our desperate attempts to be perfect, we ignore all the wonderful things about ourselves and focus our attention on our flaws, the things to be improved. If we put all this energy into recognising what is good in us, what is beautiful, wouldn’t we naturally find perfect happiness?

In our desperate attempts to be perfect, we ignore all the wonderful things about ourselves and focus our attention on our flaws, the things to be improved. If we put all this energy into recognising what is good in us, what is beautiful, wouldn’t we naturally find perfect happiness?

Just a thought……….

Lisa x