What’s the Point of Pursuing Happiness?

Someone asked me recently, “What’s the point of pursuing happiness?”

The answer seemed so obvious to me that in the moment I had no response. My thought was something along the lines of, “Why would anyone not want to feel good as much as possible and be happier?”

Our two perspectives really gets to the key point. Being happy is a choice. Each person has the freedom to decide where they are going to fall along the wide spectrum of emotions and reactions to every single situation and subject. That’s our free will.

But it took me a long time to realize that I had a choice about being happy or not; that I had the ability—and responsibility—to direct the quality of my life. For too long I felt I was at the whim of an unfeeling and uncaring Universe that liked to batter me against the rocks. The world was against me and I couldn’t get a break.

That perspective was so painful that I suffered from chronic depression for many, many years. As a result, I’ve had enough pain and suffering, thank you. I no longer find it romantic, or a sign that I’m a caring or good person. If I am at the helm of my life—and I fully believe that I am—than I’m going to do everything I can to redirect this vessel towards freedom, love, joy, clarity, contentment, and fun.

To paraphrase Bruce Schneider, pain may be inevitable, but suffering is optional.

I can let go of feeling like I need to “fix” others or even see them as broken because if we are all the masters of our lives, then each person gets to decide which reaction and experience they will have. If they chose to be miserable, who am I to tell them they shouldn’t be? After all, my years of suffering were absolutely necessary for me to truly want to change, to be so focused and determined to find a different way that the path began to open up before me. Every one of my experiences was perfect for me on the road to where I am now, and will continue to unfold perfectly—for me.

The message that I want to shout to the world is, “It’s a choice! You get to choose! You have the power! And making a different choice feels so much better!” For those that it might help, I want to share how I did it and tools that I’ve learned so if they want to feel better, they have support guiding them towards their path. Their way will look different than mine, and isn’t that diversity what makes life grand?

For many, many reasons people will resonate with my message, experience, and process—or not. If being happy isn’t important to you or something you want, how beautiful is it that you get to make a different choice? And if it is, there are lots of ways to get there. Find the way that works best for you.

If we were all having the exact same experience and there was only one “right” way, the Universe would be pretty limited and from my perspective, the whole point of life is to expand and grow. Even scientists tell us the Universe is expanding. To me that is the very point of every experience that each of us is having—both that which we judge good and bad. Evolution is not one species making a quick jump to become another. It’s the moment-to-moment creation of our unique perspectives and responses to the ever-changing swirl of life.

So what’s the point of pursuing happiness? What’s the point—to you? Why is it important—or not—to you? That’s where the true answer lies.

For me, it’s waking up this morning literally laughing at a joke I created in my dreams. It’s feeling light-hearted and so filled with love in this moment that I want to share it with any person who wants to receive it. It’s appreciating my husband who I can hear right now in the kitchen washing the dishes.

It’s wanting to laugh instead of weep, being engaged and excited in my work, instead of dreading it so much I can hardly get out of bed. It’s knowing that today, I feel better than I did yesterday, and in tomorrow there is the opportunity to feel even better than today. It’s learning to go with the flow of life and seeing it as an adventure instead of purgatory. It’s because life for me finally feels good, and I want more of that, please!

There is no right or wrong answer. This is just where you are in your journey. Come along with mine—or not. And as you share your journey, it will either resonate with me—or not.

What is truly sublime is finding the people you do click with and who you not only get value from, but who you give value back to by sharing your journey, responses, and insights. We are creating an ever-expanding circle of growth, clarity, connection, and inspiration.

And that makes me happy!

Together we can do it!

Photo by Rosen Georgiev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feel the Relief

Every feeling you have is either a derivative of love or fear. Like opposite ends of a magnet, the feelings that you have are moving you closer to one pole or the other. Where you spend most of your time is reflected in how you experience life.

Is what you are feeling most of the time closer to joyful, appreciative, content, hopeful or frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, depressed? As a result, do you see the world as a happy or scary place?

While many people think their feelings are out of their control, this isn’t actually the case. What you are feeling is tied directly to what you are thinking.

You may believe that what you are thinking about a situation is etched in stone. The situation is the situation after all. It’s either good or bad, right? How could you possibly think something different about it?

We begin to take control of our thoughts and emotions when we recognize that what we think and feel is a choice.

For instance, I can focus on the rain that is falling right now, the thunder that has my dog anxious, and the gloomy sky, or I can focus on the mild temperatures we are having in the middle of January, how our drought-lowered water table is being refilled, how animals in the wild have plenty of water to drink, and come spring, the wild flowers that will be abundant.

And if a situation is truly so bad that you can’t shift your thoughts about it, then as often as possible, figure out how you can take your mind off that topic. You will not be giving it freedom to get worse if you give your mind a rest to think about something that you do feel good about.

Letting go of your grip on worry and stress—even for a minute here and there throughout your day—can actually help you see solutions that you otherwise would have missed.

This is where it’s helpful to tap into your spiritual beliefs. You can feel a sense of relief when you put your mental burden in the hands of a power bigger than yourself, that understands the story behind you and to come, that has such a broad perspective that the solution is clear, and that has the capacity to create the Universe and that will use all of its resources working on your behalf.

However you can get there, a feeling of relief is all you need to strive for. Trying to jump from depression to joy will just bring you crashing painfully to the ground. The small step of a feeling of relief is all that you need to move you closer to the love-side of the magnet.

The more you step your thoughts towards love, the more you love your life.

What can you do today to alter your thoughts to create a feeling of relief? Do that, and repeat.

Together we can do it!

Photo by dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gratitude is Powerful Medicine

Do you focus more on what’s wrong with a person, or do you look for things to compliment and appreciate?

Turns out that if you tend to be critical, the person you are hurting most is you.

According to this article by Ocean Robbins, several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude, meaning that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are.

Robbins cites Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, who found that clinically depressed people showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.

As someone who suffered from a lot of depression in the past, I can attest that this was true for me. During those dark times, it felt like all of my focus was on what was wrong with my life.

During those times, I think I would have argued that my life was less than perfect first and this caused the depression. But looking at it from where I am now, it’s clear to me that spending too much time on the problems in my life resulted in depression.

Slowly but consistently shifting your focus to the things in your life for which you can be truly grateful is powerful medicine. Not just for depression but for overall wellness and wellbeing.

Today is day six of my gratitude challenge and the assignment is to take a few minutes to call someone I haven’t talked to in a while and tell them how much I appreciate them.

While I hope to uplift the person I am going to call, the person who will benefit the most is me.

What are the things that you appreciate about the people in your life? Focus on those things, and share your appreciation with them.The result is you both benefit.

Together we can do it!