Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finding Serenity Now

I know people who were born HAPPY.  Then there are those who struggle most of their lives trying to figure out what happiness is, only to discover it was within them the entire time.  I'm pretty sure I live somewhere between happy and striving to be completely 100% happy.

This past year it's been a struggle for me to find the balance.  When I feel I am lacking in an area where I truly desire to accomplish a better version of me I tend to study and make goals for myself to help me accomplish that attribute.  No one likes to be around a person who's  downer all the time.  I find myself judging myself harder than anyone else could, so I become exclusive.  The study of true happiness has been an absolute intriguing subject.

I began by becoming an ambassador for happiness at it is no cost but keeps me in check with acts of kindness, it's given me ideas of how to service others.  I have struggled with insomnia since my cancer diagnosis.  Researchers have found that people who are happy sleep better, live longer have a larger and more active social network of friends.  They make better bosses, make better decisions and even make more money.  I feel like I just described my sweet husband.  His head hits the pillow and he is gone to dream land--he never talks negative and always looks at the bright side of things.  We introduces me to folks he sold a home to 20-30 years ago, he remembers them, their children, parents etc. Without hesitation they always say "We love your husband, he's the best realtor we have ever dealt with"  I'm pretty sure there are a few passengers at USAirways who would not have that to say about me.

There is a book called The upside of your Dark Side, it was interesting to read as I studied what should be a simple attribute can be so complex.  Maybe we are trying to hard to be happy.  The PhD who helped co write the book suggests that emotions of anger, guilt, anxiety and sadness can be beneficial. Good news for me, I struggle with all of those. Reading it intrigued me even more to find out how he came to that conclusion. He said instead of trying to be happy every waking moment of our day It's all about balance.  It's about finding pleasure in the things we enjoy and learn from the obstacles we need to overcome.  Anyone who knows me well knows the philosophy I have adopted is always about what we learn from the heartache, but honestly I never really thought my struggles with anxiety, guilt or sadness were part of the balance needed to master the attribute of true happiness.  Putting on a happy face 100% of the time is not REAL and ultimately my goal is to be completely true to myself.

If we could all wrap ourselves in bubble wrap as to avoid the difficult but REAL life situations we suffocate ourselves from truly growing into our authentic self; besides it's unrealistic.  Once I realized this it was like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. For me it's about working on what I can control.  It is  scientifically honest and freeing to let go of the burden and pressure to be happy all the time.  In today's world more than ever before people compare themselves to others for approval. Our world has changed, and social networking gives us constant reminders by the amount of "Likes" a person gets or not.  My daughter just recently told me there is a way to buy "Likes" I just about lost my  lunch.  Really? How sad is that? Social media is fun, can help build businesses and keep us caught up on friends and family.  I have many times prayed for people who I would have not known needed it had I not seen it on social media.  It has given us a  great tool for cultivating happiness on a different level. For example a friend of mine Kara Kelly was celebrating her 40th birthday, rather than a physical gift she asked for people to do something nice for someone else that day then hashtag it.  Knowing her this was a genuine request, and I enjoyed do it.  Normally we have been taught to do acts of kindness as an anonymous gift so as to not pat ourselves on the back.  There are times when anonymous gifts are necessary, those are not what I am referring to.

Since studying happiness one of the goals I gave myself was to give at least on act of kindness a day. The genuine joy I have received from doing this has now become second nature to me.  Everyone can do it, but intentionality has to be considered when starting out.  These can or cannot be monetary.  A smile cost nothing, when I lost my smile I had to get a bit more creative (LOL) helping someone put groceries in their car, picking up something from the store for a home bound person, telling someone you like their outfit, or their hair looks good, are all acts of kindness.

All of our emotions serve a purpose, this is why Heavenly Father has blessed us with the ability to feel sad, lonely, angry etc.  The fluctuation of those emotions are what help us to balance out and appreciate the happy moments.  How do you measure your happiness if you have never felt any other emotion?  The idea of happiness is similar to the wanting to be richer or healthier-- I think the reason why our happiness levels fluctuate from one day to the next or for some hour to hour is because we are all subject to things we cannot control, the traffic, weather how much sleep we are getting.  I know for me when the negative sets in it's because I have set my pedestal for happiness way too high and I feel like I have failed.  Just like Love in our life, we have to let it happen. You can't MAKE yourslef feel something, and those feelings may change from day to day.

Doing things you enjoy is the best way to replace negative with happiness.  When we allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotions our Heavenly Father has blessed us with, we are happier people.  Being grateful and thanking our Heavenly Father for those emotions is the key to finding true happiness.  I'm working on this right now in my life, I have a long way to go but I'm glad I listened to the spirit tell me there were things about myself I needed to do so that I could quit wasting time and find serenity now.