Finding freedom in the pursuit of happiness

The journey to happiness

It’s easy on our journey to find happiness to be inundated with messages telling us to just “be positive”? Like it’s a light switch you can just turn on and that’s all that is needed. What is really happening is a play on our desires as in marketing connecting to our desires means we will be listening to whatever sales pitch comes next.

We are all striving for happiness. In every choice we make, every dream we have ultimately we are looking for it. Our search for happiness comes in many forms. We strive to feel secure, to be recognized as somebody of value, to enjoy life, to love and to have knowledge. All of this work ultimately to feel happy.

But does being happy mean being positive? Is being positive all the time realistic? I believe no.

Feeling Emotions

I believe that emotions are meant to be felt as our body is telling us something. For an example, if we put our hand in a fire we feel pain. This emotion is telling us that our body is in danger and to take our hand out of the fire. Yet when we feel fear we are expected to “push through”. When we feel resistance we are expected to “get over it”. And when we feel discontentment we are asked to “be positive”. I believe this robs us of the message our body is sending!

Before I tell you more, I’m also not suggesting we drown in our emotions. What I am saying is when a feeling comes listen, learn and choose to or not to act.

You may be asking yourself, well how do I do that? The answer is easier than you might think, it doesn’t require that you take a workshop or read a book. It’s really quite simple and you’ve had it with you all along. Listen… in!

Listening to emotions

Much like the example of your hand in the fire, your emotions are a message from your body. The value of that message can only be heard when we listen for it. The best part is that listening in can happen simply by stopping and listening. Sound too simple? Well it isn’t, you see we are inundated with messages and distractions all day. Our phones, netflix even our music is designed to draw us in. So how do we turn them away and start looking in?

For me this starts with curiosity, you see it is so easy to assume we know why we feel something. I mean we have been living with ourselves for how long now? Of course we know immediately why we are angry right? Well, if that were true then you have never faced a moment in the middle of an argument when you can’t even remember why you are fighting. And you’ve definitely never been watching something that all of a sudden made you so angry or sad you could scream but didn’t understand why.

What I find the most interesting about our mind is that it is wired to protect us. It sends us just what we need, but it doesn’t relay everything. A classic example is a moment with a loved one who has done the opposite of what we expected. Our anger bubbles right up like an overflowing kettle, we are so busy reacting that we often don’t take the time to be curious about what is making us angry.

We can resist or we can lean in

So, what now… well the happiness choice is really yours to make. So what does making a new choice mean? Well, let me leave you with this… when we get caught in them and react we are resisting the message and this is where we can easily drown in them. We often say things we don’t mean, or react in ways that actually fuel the problem. (Read more about how we are our own best teacher here)

So what if I told you that if you lean in to the emotion, get curious with it, listen and allow without feeling a need to react that what you will find is freedom.

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