I've been struggling with being happy.
Kind of an existential thing. What am I here for, who am I, what do I want to do with the 2nd half of my life? Questions to myself of what kind of imprint I want to put into this world.
A little over a year ago, I had a very clear idea of this. I had a purpose, was overall quite happy. Driven, one could say. Then, the rug was pulled out from under me, as life does to us sometimes, and everything I thought I was doing right came into question.
I felt lost. I had lost myself in my purpose, or something like that. Or maybe, everything was just fine, but with such an unexpected life change, I have to start from scratch?
Nevertheless, I'm formulating a kind of life vision for what my truth is, and where my happiness comes from. I'm finding it to be a bit different criteria than I had before. So maybe it's good that life tossed me around a bit. It forced me to reset.
So, this is what I have so far, in putting my truth together of what makes me feel like I'm moving toward a full happy, satisfied, and whole existence. This is the first time I've attempted to write this down. Let's see where it goes.
Tools and Techniques for my Happiness and Personal Truth
- Spend time with happy people, who don't need to put me down, put others down, or create drama to relieve their pain. Surround myself with people who are at least one step ahead of me in the happiness department.
- Remove toxic people from my everyday life. (More on toxic people here.)
- Do hard things. Not arbitrarily hard things. Not make things that can be done easily into something complicated. Do things that are inherently harder than what I'm used to, that challenge me, that test my strength.
- Spend time with myself as an accepting friend - think/write about what I like, what I want, what I feel, how I do things. This involves meditation and spending time alone, and being OK with being alone, and being OK with who I am like I would be with a friend.
- Forgive myself for my mistakes. I've berated myself enough for what I've done.
- Let other people be responsible for their own feelings and actions. For me, this is an important one. It might sound strange, but I feel guilt when other people aren't happy or if they tell me their stories of woe. I feel the need to help fix their problems, or do something to make them feel happy. I'm thinking this has something to do with my childhood, but barring a blog-counseling session, let's just say it's a habit I picked up somewhere. Anyway, by allowing people their pain and fear and all the other emotions that make me uncomfortable, I will have less emotional work to do in general. My own emotions are enough work! This letting go of responsibility of other people's emotions also leads to less judgment, which leads to less angst, and more compassion. It's strange to realize that letting go of wanting to help people out of their emotions and letting them just have them even if they hurt gives me more compassion.
- Fully go through my grief. I have lost some important things, things most other people have, things I was promised and was not given. And I have missed out on opportunities that will never come around again. These missed opportunities and unpleasant losses hang with me, and a large part of this is because I have not allowed myself to grieve. Instead, I tried to be "strong" and to say it's no big deal, whatever. By not allowing myself to admit that these missing things hurt me, and I am struggling because of them, they sat and festered. I'm slowly unraveling some of the long-term pain I've been holding of what I've lost or missed, and each time I go a step further through grief, I feel happier and more whole.
- Sleep less. But better. I've change my sleeping habits. More on sleeping in a later post. But basically, I sleep less, and better, and I dream less intensely, too.
Some things I tried to do but only made me unhappy:
- Tried to not obsess. Doesn't work. I just get more disappointed with myself for not being strong enough. Instead, I've changed to accepting this obsessing business as part of who I am, and like a friend, comforting myself and listening gently through it all.
- Made a checklist of what I could do better. Again, didn't work. I did do some things better for a short while, and it felt good to make the list itself, but then I ended up just being who I am and disappointing myself yet again that I couldn't change enough for my own satisfaction. (Interestingly, letting go of the "do better" list, I'm making more changes.)
- Distract myself. Distraction works as a great tool in the immediate, when things are spiraling out of control. I distract myself when I need to keep from doing something hurtful to myself or others, or when my emotions are so hard and I feel trapped in the moment, like when I'm scared. But as a base-line approach, it masks the problem. Eventually, I have to deal with whatever happened or whatever emotion is there, and find some way to comfort myself, find solace, or resolve the emotion. Distraction is a great tool for the toolbox, but it doesn't work to deal with overall happiness.
That's what I got so far. I'm hoping through all this, I'll find a nice place to bob around for the next 40 years, with only a few blips here and there to deal with inevitable life stressors. If I can do that, and continue to do hard things, I'm thinking my life will be pretty awesome, and I'll do lots of great things along the way.