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The art of happiness. Friday November 14, 2014

At a recent counselling appointment I was asked to explore the times when I am happy. I sat and thought for a moment and then reported that I'm not sure I'm ever really happy. Afterwards I found myself being troubled by this. Is it really true that I am never a happy person? I didn't actually think so. I love spending my time with my children and am generally very happy in their company. I go to work and am fortunate to really enjoy my role. I am generally a really happy and laid back person to be around in the office and can often be heard chatting and laughing (as opposed to working!). When I am with friends I am a positive and upbeat person. Yet at that moment in time, when asked, I considered that I wasn't a happy person.

I know the times when I feel my lowest, it's when I'm on my own and my thoughts begin to wander. I have a tendency to let this happen rather than take positive action to keep my thoughts in check. In the situations I describe myself as happy in, it might not always be genuine. There are times when I just want to hide myself away but I can't so I put on a front to disguise my inner feelings. And it can be exhausting, pretending to the world that I am immensely happy when I feel nothing like it. I suppose if I really wanted, I could not pretend on the days that I do, I could show the world my sadness and grief. But actually I don't want to. This would lead people to enquire as to the source of the depths of my mood and it's a story that I don't want to share.

So faking my mood acts as a shield to protect me. But also I find that faking happiness can lead to genuine happiness. When I act happy, those around me are more likely to feed off that and in return the happiness is perpetuated. Likewise, when I allow my negativity to flow, this impacts on those around me. I only have to look at the days where it's been like a battlefield with the kids and it's clear that often they have just fed off my mood for the day. But also, sometimes I feel genuine happiness, but then perhaps feel guilty for being happy. I am in a difficult situation right now, I am finding it a struggle and I think somewhere, deep inside, I hold a message that tells me if I'm at all happy at any point then I can't be going through an inner struggle and therefore admitting happiness in this time would be like declaring that I am free of my struggles.

So, on full reflection, I do have many periods of happiness. These periods sometimes run alongside my darkest days, sometimes they are genuine, sometimes they are forced. Experiencing happiness doesn't mean I no longer have troubles, it doesn't mean I don't engage in negative thinking, it doesn't even mean I don't need guidance and support. It simply means that I continue to be able to experience a range of emotions, or at least remember what happiness is like in order to fake it until I make it!!

A Moodscope member.

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K DC Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 7:23am

I have had reason to ponder happiness and its presence in my life recently as well. My boss actually had made a reference to my seeming more happy recently, and I got angry, because I felt that he was overstepping the line in speaking of my own apparent happiness or otherwise.

It's not his business to ascribe happiness to my life, certainly not as a state. To me happiness is a journey. Unfortunately, it's not a journey I feel capable of. After thought on the matter, I realized that I want to be useful and have good work in my life, good relationships with my family, be creative and healthy, build a strong and well body. I want to be steady state in terms of my mental health, but also know that if I have a bounce or take a dive, that's part of the process. I will be content with these things. Content would be a huge accomplishment, a revolution, really.

This is my life. I get to define what I aspire to emotionally in my life. I aspire for a quiet and fulfilling life, and happiness does not figure into the equation. To me Happiness is much like the Grand Unification Equation. The work to find it is the end in itself, because once you find the Grand Unification Equation, what will you do with your life?

Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 9:54am

Hi Rose, K Dc
Happiness is something I equate with being free. I believe it is my natural state. I'm sure I was born happy. Every time I leave the house, I feel a tiny rise of it inside. It grows with every step. I am throwing off shackles, re-discovering it. It's when I return to our home and re-enter through the front door that I feel the happiness leave, rather like someone removing my comfortable coat and replacing it with chainmail. Everything that weighs me down in life is represented here. Housework regurgitates itself; dinner needs inventing again, both coursework and paperwork swirl. I see a husband who I feel I need to get to know again but bitterness won't allow it. Children who don't rely upon me so much, an incontinent kitten! The walls start moving in and I am reluctant to move.
I take a deep breath and plunge underwater, swimming room to room until I can resurface, open that front door and breathe again. I am practising holding my breath. I am good at being happy, once there. I just need to find other portals and perhaps some armbands.

Charles Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 12:01pm

My gut response to this is...
if I don't let the world know my pain, everyone will assume nothing need changing and things will continue as usual. We have moods for a reason and for me they act like a compass. Withdrawing this powerful feedback tool from the environment is unhealthy to me, and I'm wary of people who are 'happy' all the time.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 12:30pm

Hi Charles, I do agree and that was part of my problem, not showing anyone my sadness. I have had to work at opening up to people and letting people in. But I also released it doesn't have to be everyone. I have a few trusted friends who I open to and it has helped immensely. Finding people in my situation which is something I have done recently has been amazingly empowering and for the first time in 18 years I can finally allow myself to share my self with those people

Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 2:08pm

Bravo! You have summed up my life. I feel better knowing I am not the only one.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 3:51pm

We all put on the shields and the masks..I personally think everybody does from time to time whether healthy or struggling....I know I often I am asked How am I doing? And my response is an immediate "Good"....when I should be saying hanging in there or struggling..I also am trying to open up more to trusted people and hopefully is will help me to tear down those false fronts... Dave

Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 6:30pm

Hi- completely agree with anonymous 9.54am about entering and leaving the house- nice to know we are NOT alone...and armbands needed here too.
I've got into a great habit now of doing things that make me happy nowadays, as I never used to at all and often feel really great- BUT- I now know that I am avoiding ALL those other things that did not help my happiness in the past- but they still need done.

I was sent this recently- it's good- the paper bag effect!


Anonymous Fri, Nov 14th 2014 @ 11:32pm

Thank you for this Rosie

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