You know how to tell if someone is miserable with their own life? They look for ways to destroy yours. Hmmm. We may not be able to put a finger on what happiness is, but I’ll bet you can tell me what unhappiness is. Boredom, exhaustion, envy of others, or an overall feeling of meaninglessness. Can you relate? What if I asked you to tell me what your place in the Universe is. Can you? Do you walk around with a desolate and dreary overview of the world? So what does make us feel despondent, discontented, and despairing?
This one may catch ya off guard, but having one too many choices may actually make you depressed. Pilates or yoga, Zumba or kickboxing. Captain Crunch, Frosted Flakes, Kashi Honey Puffs, or Fiber One? Truth is we have more food choices than any generation in all of history with the tap of a button. And you know what they say: “Good food, good mood.” Speaking of which, don’t you think there should be a calorie refund for things that didn’t taste quite as good as you expected? Me, too.
But we humans tend to feel somewhat paralyzed by too much variety. It’s downright overwhelming, actually. Have you ever gone to a shop, hoping they actually have a smaller selection so you won’t have to choose between hundreds of items?
Oh, my gosh, did you hear that show was taken off the air? Raise your hand if you’ve ever formed a so called “relationship” with your favorite character in a television show or perhaps even in a book? You may be surprised to know how close you can actually feel to a fictional character. It’s the end of the day. You are unwinding, escaping your daily pressures from work or time spent with those adorable, demanding children and – dare I say – enjoying the companionship of that “character.” And poof – now he’s gone. She was written out of the script. You feel as though you really lost someone important to you. And no, you are not crazy.
Hitching a ride on the worry wagon is the fastest route to headaches and heartaches. Agonizing over whether or not you made the right decision about something…ouch. If you learn to tell yourself that you chose the best possible option at the time, you may save yourself a truckload of maddening second guessing.
Believe it or not, that Insta account could be doing it. After all, we can’t be real, show our insecurities, or express our true needs on Twitter or Facebook, now can we? And those dreaded comparisons that I always lose. “They” are prettier, wealthier, have better-behaved kids, and make oodles of money. Great. Now I am wearing an unflattering shade of green jealousy. Imagine if Facebook ever shut down: There would be hordes of people wandering the streets, shoving pictures in others’ faces, shouting: “Do you like this? Do you?!” Oh, and remember when people had diaries and got mad if or when someone read them? Now they put everything online and get mad when people don’t. Go figure.
While a bit of competition is healthy and motivating; it really is not you against the world, unless you make it so. Please stop putting the keys to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.
Being too hard on yourself, or for that matter on others, can surely create some emotional darkness for you. How many times a day do you tell yourself that you are not attractive enough or financially secure enough, or do you find yourself harboring regrets about “what might have been…” There is always someone who is not going to see your worth. Don’t let it be you. Happy folks will find a way to live with their problems. Unhappy folks let their problems stop them from living.
How about this little goodie? Postponing pleasure: “I’ll take that long-needed vacay another time. It’s too busy at work now.” Did that “someday” ever come? Are you convinced that you just stepped out of a superhero comic book and can actually control most things? Uh, oh. That’s a surefire way to stay blue. If you’ve been on the planet for a while, you may have noticed that oftentimes things do not turn out exactly as we planned. Time to make peace with that, sweet friends. Go with the flow, or let the flow go – your choice.
Drop those heavy-duty expectations, please. I know. I have a rule book, too; and the funny thing is: Most people don’t seem to live by it. They simply forget to read my memos about how things should be done. Well I have a bulletin for y’all. The sooner we accept that others are not going to live by our ideas of right and wrong, the less frustrated and miserable we will be. And perhaps you were assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved. Think about it.
Decide to be happy with small things. A yummy family dinner with friends or loved ones around you may not be tantamount to a Bahamas cruise, but you may surprise yourself with how much joy you can find if you stop to look around you. Stop trying to run that race while you’re picking up rocks along the way. Talk about stress, eh. How are you ever going to find your wings if you are constantly weighed down?
Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life, please.
You do not become happy because of what is around you, but because of what is inside you, sweet friends. Trust me, there’s enough Sun for everyone. So what are your happiness busters? Feel free to share. As always, I am right here.
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.