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Thursday
Apr072016

How are you doing UNHAPPY?

Susan walks into my office and expresses how utterly unhappy she is. Despite having a great job, a loving partner, well adjusted kids and a good home, she has recently gained 6 kilos in weight. She feels a failure, that she’ll lose everything she has and be left unattractive and unloved.

 

“I always mess up and I never get to be happy.” 

“Always mess up? Never happy?”

“Well, yes. I have everything I ever wanted, yet something’s a miss. I feel miserable, a total loser!”

 

We discovered that she had this notion that if she had everything she ever wanted, she would naturally be happy. But when I asked her what this ‘happiness’ would be like, she became stuck. 

 

“When was the last time you felt happy?” I enquired.

“When I was doing....” she elaborated.

“And before that?”

“When I was doing...” and again.

“So you were doing ‘happy’?”

Long pause...

“Yes! I guess I was.”

 

Like Susan many of us go through each day on auto-pilot - numb to the world, doing and thinking the same things day-in, day-out. We do what is expected of us: we fulfill all our roles; achieve our goals; and behave as we should. But how much of all this are we putting some thought and emotion into?

Thankfully, we are not robots, we are human beings, which means... we feel. We experience a huge range of emotions and they change from moment to moment. Yet so many people hop between just two options - fear and boredom.

 

A truth: we don’t have to feel happy 100% of the time.

 

Not feeling happy is ok. It doesn’t mean something is broken in us. How weird would it be, being happy all the time? How would we know we were happy if we have nothing different to compare the feeling to?

Variety is the spice of life! Every day is new and holds the potential for exciting experience. It’s a cycle we and nature go through. Nothing stays the exactly the same for long. We have the ability to experience a kaleidoscope of emotions. 

When Susan did things she enjoyed and loved she experienced sensations of happiness, satisfaction and joy. She let herself feel lifted by the moment. Happiness is a series of moments that we collect through life.

Yet Susan’s idea of ‘happy’ is uniquely her own. No one can tell her how to be happy nor define it for her - not even me! It is something she designed for herself internally. She has a definition for ‘happy, I have a definition for ‘happy‘ and there is one in the dictionary, and all three are very different.  

It’s up to us do the things that make us happy - those things that energise and lift us; the ‘doing’ that brings a big smile to our lips and heart. Gathering more and more of these moments leads to a more fruitful and happy way of living.

 

“The two enemies of happiness are pain and boredom”       Arthur Schopenhauer

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