This post is for anyone who’s tired of seeing the hardships before the good. Of struggling with fluctuating moods or a persistent level of anxiety. This may just help you to feel happy, every day.
The past few weeks have been a bit strange. In a good way.
It began a few Tuesdays ago. The kids were at school and nursery. I had done all the things that usually make me happy. A run. A nice coffee. Some work and writing. And yet, I felt utterly miserable and teary. I couldn’t blame hormones – as I so often do – it was supposed to be my ‘good’ couple of weeks. There was no tangible reason at all.
That Tuesday turned out to be the climax of a year that has, so far, largely been dominated by anxious thoughts.
And I had had enough.
No one to blame but myself.
Living your life with frequent feelings of lack and anxiety is joyless and frustrating.
Having so much to be thankful and happy for and yet completely missing that abundance is such a waste of time and energy. And it makes you feel sad. Especially when it feels you have no control over it.
That was the place I had found myself in, despite all my CBT practice. That Tuesday proved it. What could I attribute my misery to? What external influences could I blame? There were none. There was only one thing I could hold accountable.
Keep on swimming.
So, there and then, on that precious child free Tuesday, I decided to change it. Anxiety and feeling low have stolen enough of my days. They’re not getting any more.
I decided to plough on regardless of the fact I felt rubbish and just wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch Gilmore Girls. I worked. I tried to be creative. I did my best to create opportunities. So at least if I got to the end of the day and I still felt awful, I wouldn’t also feel guilty for wasting those precious hours.
Of course, by the end of the day, I didn’t feel awful. I felt much better.
And I felt a real sense of achievement for pushing on through.
The law of attraction.
That day taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me that I can choose to be happy. That I can attract happiness, even if I’m not initially feeling it. That I can flip my mood and choose to look at things differently and, in doing so, override those low moments and the anxious thoughts.
I have that power.
After all, if the anxious and negative thoughts can feed off each other, why can’t the happy ones?
So I have decided to try it, every day. To commit to the happy, positive thoughts and the feeling that everything will be ok, in the end.
I have always believed this, ultimately. I like the idea of destiny (in the sense that you can influence it and shape it if you listen to your instincts, not that you’re entitled to it). I’d just lost my connection with it and in that void the anxious thoughts had had room to grow.
The thought that you attract whatever you think about isn’t really a crazy one. It’s like those days we label as bad, where one thing goes wrong after another. It’s only us who call it bad. If we choose to reframe it after we’ve spilt the milk, missed the train and broke our heel on the escalator, is it a bad day or does that day suddenly become defined by something else? The nice conversation we had, that we wouldn’t have had if we’d missed our train. It’s what CBT calls ‘challenging unhelpful thoughts.’ And it works.
Listening to our instincts (our inner beings) isn’t an alien concept either. As mothers, it’s how we raise our kids. Our instincts are strong and any mother who’s ever gone against them (and paid the price) knows what good guides they always are.
After a while, you start to do both without even thinking about it.
It really will be ok.
Since choosing to see the good as often as I can and simply being aware of the direction in which my thoughts are taking me, the anxious thoughts are at bay.
I’m in the most anxious part of my monthly cycle and still there is nothing on the horizon. I am able to refocus myself in a way I never have been before.
And it’s a much happier way to live.
Can we really think ourselves happy?
Surely, there are flaws? What about those having a really hard time? Those that are seriously ill? Those that are lonely or jobless or homeless. The list goes on. Do they just think happy thoughts and ta-dah! But those that have the desire or the ability, actually manage to do it.
We see them every day. They are those amazing people who are experiencing huge challenges that the rest of us marvel at and say, ‘How on earth do you find the strength?‘ But do they really have a unique strength waiting to be sourced? Or do they make a choice to be positive, often amidst no choice at all?
And maybe at the most basic level, that’s the difference between happy people and unhappy people. Making a choice. Making a commitment to finding peace and happiness wherever you can, whilst really getting to know yourself, your inner being and trusting your instincts, no matter what.
We must also have a realistic interpretation of the word, ‘happy.’ Because choosing to be happy doesn’t mean we will be all of the time. Or that we will be miraculously immune to pain. The Buddha’s teachings tell us that suffering is a part of life, that we must all acknowledge. And find our peace with. That’s the challenge, right there.
But it’s like anything you practice. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
And being happy feels pretty, blooming good.