We talk about happiness every day of our lives in our elusive search for it. We see happiness as something external we can just pluck out of nowhere when we want it, just call it up when we want to have a better day. Sometimes happiness seems to affect everyone else except us. However, if you are looking to the outside world or to material things for happiness you are looking in the wrong place. Often we are denied happiness because we don't know how to begin the search. For some people, they are not even sure what happiness means for them, so they don't even know where to start in getting it!
Throughout time, happiness has given us humans a lot of trouble for three main reasons.
First, we don't know how to define happiness to suit ourselves. Everyone defines happiness in a different way. Quite simply, many people don't know what they want to make them happy so their choices change literally according to their moods. They believe happiness is something they work towards not realising, or accepting, that happiness starts inside of us first. It is not an ideal destination we spend our life heading for. It is actually with us every day, from this minute, and demonstrates itself in how we love and appreciate ourselves. How can we ever find happiness if we don't know what it means for us? How can we be truly happy if we are not clear about what makes us happy, or we expect others to fulfil that need? Defining what would make you happy, whether your purpose in life, your desires or visions, is the very first step to being truly happy. It means when those things appear you will recognise them instead of living in ignorance of who you are and what makes you tick.
Second, we are always looking for happiness with someone else or with material things. We often believe that getting a new dress, a new car, new flat or new yacht will do the trick: to bring us that elusive happiness we are seeking. But any material things only give us moments of temporary JOY. They do not give long term happiness. Material things help us to enjoy various aspects of life that money can buy but they bring no happiness where we live without self love, without esteem, without love for others and without care and compassion. We can have everything in the world at our fingertips, but if we lack self-love and contentment, especially when we feel like crap, we will still remain unhappy.
Addressing the Real Issues
If we are unhappy with our nose, no amount of fiddling with our hands will sort the problem with that nose until we address the real issue. Many celebrities believe that fame and fortune will make them happy, but then reach their desired rainbow only to find that they left their pot of gold way behind them. Happiness starts from within, when we are truly happy with who we are and seek no approval. When we can accept our warts and failings and realise that nothing detracts from the magnificent and amazing beings we are.
Finally, happiness eludes us because we think we do not deserve it.
I met a guy once whom I really liked but we never got off the ground because he kept saying how he didn't deserve me or such a wonderful relationship. He was dwelling on the fears in his head instead of giving thanks for us finding each other. Naturally, his fears became a self-fulfilling prophecy because his negative thoughts began to sabotage possible meetings. As he felt he didn't deserve me, he immediately put mental barriers to enjoying my company. Somehow, there was always a crisis whenever we set dates. He then felt terrible about it, which increased his feelings of inadequacy and reinforced his thoughts of being undeserving even more, in an unending vicious circle. Of course, as he dithered, he gradually lost his attraction in the process as I went right off him. We cannot have the opposite of what we are thinking. We have to think as we mean it to happen to get the results we are after.
So begin the process of defining happiness as it means to YOU. What would really make you happy for the next few years? NOT forever, because we evolve as people and our needs inevitably change with time, and not just for a moment either.
Then look inside of you to see how you feel about yourself and how that happiness will sit with your general contentment and esteem.
Then believe you deserve it because we all deserve happiness. Some people are not just sent here to suffer and some to be happy. We all face the same possibilities. Our outcomes depend upon the choices we personally make which then decide the direction we ultimately travel: whether towards finding that personal happiness or making it even more elusive to us.
Do you feel dissatisfied with your life at the moment? (Asked by a 20 year old having some relationship problems)
Nope, not for me, but I can see why you would feel like that from what you have said.
I feel extremely happy at the moment but it could be because I am much older than you, I have been through your angst and worries and have come out the other side learning one key thing: It is pointless being unhappy or worrying about life because it ALWAYS sorts itself out to suit itself in the end, whether we like it or not!
You are unhappy because you had a lot of expectations about life which have not been fulfilled and you probably feel trapped by your relationship. But life does not just conform to expectations. It is something that happens when we are busy planning otherwise! So the best way to live life is to take it as it comes, don't try to control it too much and allow it to give you some surprises. They are usually awesome. It also means taking responsibility for your life so you have to act if you want any change. Your boyfriend won't do it for you.
People who try to control their existence too much are always disappointed because they leave nothing to chance and arrange their life too tightly. They do not take account of tragedies, crises the unexpected happening, or even their own evolution. Hence why they feel really bad when they reach a certain point and what they hoped for isn't there. Happiness for me comes from one thing each day: opening my eyes and realising that I am still alive when many people, including close relatives, have been denied that life and I am still there.
By the way, you should not let anyone keep you away from your dreams. You can always get another boyfriend but it is very important that life at a young age is lived. That's the age of discovery and experiment. You are probably unhappy because you are doing something deep down you don't want to do and resenting the fact that what you would really like you are currently missing out on. Stop a moment and ask yourself what you truly desire and how you can get it, because you will never be happy if you don't allow yourself to fulfil your potential simply because of being with someone or being weighed down with work.
Additionally, you have a long time left to achieve what you wish for in your life. Just because it doesn't happen when you think doesn't mean you won't get it. Just keep working at, keep reviewing your situation and work a step at a time. Only you can change your situation and your feeling, no one else. If you have the courage to make that change, you could be very surprised at the results. I hope things perk up for you soon and give you much greater satisfaction in living.
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We all have coping mechanisms for dealing with anger, especially when we feel frustrated at not being able to affect the situation, to retaliate or to simply to be heard.
However, what do you do when you're upset? How do you cope with it?
Situations always call for different reactions but which of these are you likely to do?
I always confront the situation. If distance, or whatever, prevents me doing this, I tend to write a letter which often I don't send. I just keep re-reading it until the anger dissipates.
I have written and sent some emails which some people have resented, as I am lethal on paper. But as long as the emails do the business of putting my point of view assertively, and with respect, I don't care how they are received. I always feel better. :o)
Whatever you do, as long as it helps you to cope, and even gets you results, without being offensive, that would be the right thing for that moment.
Q. I'm depressed and can't see life getting any better. Throughout the day I think of negative things. The bad outweighs the good. Here are some things I am depressed and think about everyday: 1. not having a social life. 2. feel like my life as a kid sucked (may not be true) 3. afraid of never getting a girlfriend because I'm bad at talking to girls (& people in general), and because I graduate in about a year from college (my career choice is full of men) and wouldn't know where to meet women. 4. I'm boring and have extremely few hobbies/interests. I'm a bit chubby but I love fitness but I ask myself "what if I was ugly and really fat? how would I ever get a gf if I can't get one now that I'm not that fat and not that ugly.
A. You seem to spend a lot of time worrying about life but not really 'doing' much about it! However, first things first: you are feeling that way because of three main things:
1. Fear: For whatever reason, you lack confidence in yourself, you lack self love and you lack self belief and all that has been gradually overtaken by fear - a fear that you are not good enough to cope with life or with others, especially people we might fancy. Confidence is a product of high self esteem. When we lack confidence and become fearful instead. everything seems to become a hassle. That is because we have very low esteem, we think very lowly of ourselves, we have little self value and we tend to feel inadequate compared to others.
That is also why you keep asking 'what if' questions which are silly, anyway, because the only important time is today. So what if you 'get ugly and fat?' You go on a diet and lose weight, if you wish to become more attractive. Simple. You would have become fat through a lack of exercise and eating badly. So it is ALL in your hands. It wouldn't be the end of the world! This moment in your life is all you are guaranteed and all you are sure of. Make the most of it, not live in a future that you cannot see.
The answer to this is to build up your confidence by gradually appreciating who you are and the many blessings you have in your life, instead of taking them for granted, and also the power you have to take responsibility for your life and live it as you wish it to be, not living in fear of it.
2. Self-Development: You are growing up and are at a crucial teenage stage where you are in transition, on a bridge between childhood and adulthood. It is often a time of great angst, especially when many things are unclear, when you are not being affirmed or reinforced for who you are, when you do not love yourself and when you perhaps lack the emotional support from your family to help you cope.
At this vulnerable time, the more you spend on your own and feel isolated is the more inadequate and fearful you will feel. So the answer to this is to GET A SOCIAL LIFE: join clubs, take up new hobbies where others can get used to you in a natural setting, read a lot and, above all, take an interest in others instead of merely focusing upon yourself. You will then appear far more attractive to others too instead of seeming selfish and self-absorbed. The more you forget yourself and mix naturally with others is the more you will be accepted for who you are, whatever your flaws, and not what you think you ought to be.
3. Perfectionism: When we wish everything to be perfect, especially where we are not appreciated too much, we focus on impossible things instead of accepting ourselves as we are. Whether you are fat or slim you are still a unique and wonderful human being in your own right. There is no need to compare yourself with anyone because such comparisons will always make you feel inadequate simply because you are like no one else in this world and they are not like you. So how can you ever measure up.
Once you find out the real reasons why you are so fearful and lacking in confidence, why you lack value to yourself, you will feel much better and you will gradually realise that the future is what YOU wish to make of it. It isn't something that we reach or move towards. It is something that we make from today with our own efforts. It just take a little self love, self value and self belief!
No, I never get angry when a prayer isn't answered because I have deep faith and belief that whatever I truly desire, and which is good for me, I will get, and if I don't get it, there's always a good reason for it. Being angry is wasted emotion because it does not make anything happen, it does not make the situation better and neither does it make us feel any better.
The power of our thought processes means that we always get what we pray for, every time. But it never comes at the exact time, or in the exact form that we expect it. So, often, by the time it arrives, not quite what we expect, we would have forgotten that we actually asked for it! Like many people who pray for a partner, but are likely to be unrealistic in their descriptions: like 'tall, dark and handsome', 'rich and wealthy', 'slim, leggy blonde' or 'beautiful black queen'.
Only very few people fit those narrow descriptions, not enough to go around, so we can't all have one of them! instead, we are likely to be sent someone who looks nothing like what we requested but with a heart of gold and who loves us to bits. Except that we are so busy being disappointed and angry at not getting our prayers answered, we would not have appreciated that they were the genuine article!!
The best way to get what we want is to have the belief that we can make it happen, and then just work towards it slowly to help bring it into being. Nurture the faith to know that it will come true and then leave it in the lap of the gods, or your God, to surprise you. You could be very shocked at the result, in some instances.
I cannot complain. So far, almost everything I have wanted I have got. And what hasn't been granted yet, I am gradually accepting that perhaps it's not worth having.
How about you?
No, I wouldn't. I just don't believe in anything false on me. I would rather age disgracefully with the genuine article than to be propped up with false parts.
Many people believe that fixing their bodies will give them confidence and self esteem, or make them feel better. That's only a temporary remedy. Whatever we feel comes from inside us, not externally. We can't fix bad feelings with physical remedies. We have to address the root cause of the problem, which is usually emotional, before we can address those seemingly imperfect body parts. But they all go to make up the unique us.
Furthermore, no one is perfect, but when we don't love ourselves, we then start to find fault and pick holes with the amazing human machine that we are.
I would love to do something about my stomach which is not as flat as I would like to be. I have often thought of getting some liposuction for it and then I think: Stop being greedy. I look wonderful as I am; I have got the most gorgeous, smile, teeth, eyes, hands, face, legs, bum and boobs. What am I complaining about? I remind myself not to look a gift horse in the mouth. To be satisfied with what I am before I lose it all. So I do daily exercises instead.
No plastic surgery for me, even if I were rolling in money.
But what about you? What would you change?
"Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life." (Dr. David D Burns)
The futile belief that perfection is achievable affects the lives of millions of people, particularly those who lack self-esteem. Some are so obsessed with achieving perfection, it affects their health and emotional well-being. Such perfectionists seek the perfect looks, the perfect mate, the perfect job and the perfect body. Naturally, as no such perfection exists, their search is bound to be a fruitless one which will only make them unhappy. However, even the most mundane task can become an ordeal since everything must be done to exacting standards with which only they would agree.
People in search of perfection experience disappointment and dissatisfaction more regularly than others because they are often unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of life unless they are ideal. Should they fall short of their perfect goal, they regard their effort as a 'failure', regardless of what they achieved to reach that position. These individuals spend an inordinate amount of time trying to avoid making mistakes, criticising their colleagues' efforts and never really making the progress, or fulfilling the potential, of which they are capable. The time, the place, the money, or the ideas are never quite right, so nothing much is ever done in the end.
Yet perfection is such a limiting aspiration. The concept of perfection is also relative. It has no meaning in itself. It only assumes meaning when we ask the question "Perfect for what?" Perfect weather for sunbathing is not the same as perfect weather for skiing. And the perfect place for having dinner is not the same as the perfect place for sleeping. There is also nothing beyond perfection except a void of inactivity and stagnation. Yet, what kills many relationships is the desire to achieve that ideal state by one or both of the parties involved. Perfectionists are driven by some unseen, internal standard of performance. Often such people find it difficult to take on projects because they will spend so much time and energy carrying out the task and making it 'perfect' (not even the tiniest flaw must be seen), they become overwhelmed. Often they cannot complete the task at all, or they take so long that it no longer matters.
Perfectionists live in a narrowly defined world in which they feel empowered. In this world, which usually excludes or derogates the efforts of others, they believe it is more possible to be perfect. The fewer activities they engage in, the greater the possibility of achieving their perfect goal. They become frustrated with themselves sometimes, often refusing to even cook or eat food because they cannot prepare it to perfection. Time is often their enemy as perfection needs time for polishing and is seldom achieved on schedule. Thus the hallmark of perfectionists is a longing to achieve a lot, in line with their potential and talent, while managing to achieve very little.
Every new year brings a freshness of promise, of hope and the opportunity to change our lives to something more in tune with what we wish to be. Hence many people make resolutions they feel they want to keep; resolutions around losing weight, giving up smoking, getting that new job or giving up that old one, or even breaking off that unfulfilling relationship and being more independent, for example. This time of the the year galvanises us into action to change ourselves in some way.
However, a few days or weeks into the year and most people will find it really difficult to keep to the promises they made themselves earlier on. It is not because they have changed their minds, or they haven't got the genuine intention to succeed in achieving their desires. Not at all. Something else they haven't even thought of would be blocking their success and preventing them from reaching their goal. In a nutshell, they are concentrating on changing their BEHAVIOUR instead of their values or mindset, and it just won't work.
Behaviour is dictated by values and values are formed by beliefs. Those three elements work in strict tandem. It means if we wish our behaviour to change, we have to start with our BELIEFS. We really cannot just change our behaviour and do nothing else. We have to change those beliefs we have about the issue, which then affect our values which ultimately change our behaviour. For example, if I really wish to make my health better and lessen the effect of diabetes on me, I cannot see chocolate, per se, as harmless food. I have to view it as something deadly and dangerous to my existence. Once I treat chocolate like virtual poison (changing my beliefs) I will then have a value that says chocolate is not something I eat, which then stops me from buying it and having it. In that way, I would keep my resolution to improve the state of my illness because my belief would drive my behaviour.
The same with smoking or weight loss. If you wish to give up smoking, it really matters WHY you are giving it up. If it is to save money, to stop having to deal with the smell of it, or because you will be 'better' for it, you won't succeed in your effort because those are not really important, survival reasons that the body will recognise. Those are social reasons. The good thoughts around cigarettes and why you smoke them in the first place will still be hovering in your subconscious. They will override the other thoughts you have of giving up.
Until you can start imagining the BAD effects of smoking on yourself; visualising it in a very negative way so that it is stripped of all its attraction, and your BELIEFS around cigarettes change to match their dangers, you will merely go through the motions for a few weeks, craving it badly, then going back to it later in time. Until you change your beliefs and values around cigarettes, switching from accepting them, per se, to rejecting them as potential danger to your survival, any stoppage will merely be temporary. When we make resolutions, our behaviour tends to change first. That's normal. But unless our beliefs and values change soon afterwards as well, the change will only be superficial simply because the original mindset, that keeps the old behaviour in place, will still be there!
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).