Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

A Gift

 

Over the past year I have been fighting.

 

 

I have been fighting against my natural inclination to wallow in the midst of life’s circumstances. I have been purposeful in trying to make myself happy. Trying to find some sustainable source of happiness through activity, busyness, mission, relationships with others, and also in isolation. Each of these provided some temporary elevation of mood—as a smoke that temporarily masks your view from the things around you, but just as quickly dissipates.

 

 

I’ve read books, positive quotes, bible verses, watched Ted Talks, sermons—just about everything I could think of, I tried. I wanted to take the power away from my circumstances, and to be honest the power of people to influence my ability to be happy. I meditated, practiced mindfulness, de-cluttered, traveled, filled up the pages in my passport, went outside my comfort zone, learned, took risks, met new friends, and crossed things off my bucket list. I’ve done everything I could think of to try to outrun and win the battles waging in my head.

 

 

I know I’m not alone in this. The prevalence of self-help books, videos, and articles on how to make yourself happy are a testament to the fact that many of us are seeking this missing link that would make our life more fulfilling and bearable.

 

 

Many people try to find that happiness in people, money or education. But the truth is many of these things though important, are often times insufficient. Life generally does not afford us perfect circumstances.

You can have money, education, and a family that is falling apart.

You can have a one true love… who loves someone else.

A beautiful house, a wonderful family, and lose your job.

 

The one thing that life can actually guarantee us is that we should expect the unexpected, and that rarely will everything be perfect all at the same time.

 

 

That lends to the common belief that happiness, or some would say joy, should transcend circumstances. But how? That is what I’ve spent the past year trying to discover. How! The answer is incredibly simple. Maybe I didn’t need to travel across the world, and isolate myself to discover it, but then again maybe I did.

 

 

 

There is a story in the bible of a woman who lost a coin.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.'” Luke 15:8–10

 

Though Jesus was using this story to talk about the importance of saving lost souls (which I fully support), I also think this story very aptly describes human nature. Our penchant is to be unsatisfied with the 9 coins we have, and seek after the 1 we are missing. The hoax is that there will always be 1 missing. There will always be something that makes our joy incomplete. Something negative that if we choose to focus on, will steal our joy concerning what isn’t missing and is still present. If we took the same happiness that the woman had when she found the 1 lost coin and multiplied it by 9, we might see that what we do have is more than what we do not. And happiness comes in our perspective in choosing to focus on the 9 remaining even while we search for the 1.

 

Recently I’ve begun to keep a gratitude journal. When I first started it was hard to even think of one thing to put down because all the things that were going wrong weighed so heavily on my mind. But over the past 80 days of writing in this journal, which thanks to the 21st century I have on my phone in the form of an app, it has become easier to fill the lines for each day with things I’m grateful for.

 

Nevertheless, gratitude, and perspective are not the tools for happiness that I have found to be most effective. It is far simpler than that. The tool is simply the knowledge and acceptance of one fact. And that fact is that there is nothing I have that I deserve.

 

We become unhappy because we think we do not have something that we should. We think that life or God, owes us something. We think we deserve to have the things we have, and even the things we don’t.

 

Biblically we could turn to Deuteronomy 10:14 that says “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.”

 

Or for those of you less biblically inclined we could consider parents that lose their kids in a school shooting, or kids that grow up in poverty. Did a child who has no agency (defined: the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power) deserve poverty more that you who grew up in relative abundance? Or do you as a parent deserve to have your kids alive and healthy more than another parent does? Of course not! So if all the bad things that happen to us are not necessarily happening because we deserve them, then the good that happens is not always necessarily because we deserve them either. So all the good things that happen to us are then not owed to us, but rather a gift.

 

 

Thus I’ve realized that I should measure happiness not in what I lack, or that which I think is owed to me, but rather by the gifts I’ve been given. And when I do that I find them to be present in surplus.

 

 

“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ― Amit Ray

 

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Not special, but Strong

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are strong. Stronger than you know. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. Strong despite those who left you or hurt you. Your worth is not a variable that someone can thumbs up on Facebook, or unfollow on Twitter. Your worth is grounded in who you are. Who God made you to be. Even on your worst day, after your biggest mistakes, in your loneliest places, you are worth something.

 

No matter how much loss you’ve experienced, rejection you face or road blocks in your way, the fact that you are still here, still alive, still waking up each morning, putting one foot in front of the other and weathering whatever storm life brings, proves your strength! I don’t care if you break down and cry, or get lost in periods of depression or self-hate. I see your strength when you put on a brave face and show up to work on time, smile at a stranger, or make dinner for your kids.

 

Take time to appreciate how far you have come without drowning in the awareness that there is still further yet to go. Notice the wounds that have become scars. Maybe they aren’t fully healed, and maybe they are still tender to the touch, but Praise God for the ones that no longer bleed!

 

This life is hard; but take comfort in the fact that your struggles don’t make you special, because we—individuals all over the world, are with you, struggling together. Your struggle is like a unique snowflake but together we are snow helping each other stay alive, whereas alone we might melt. Today I am praying for you, in the same way I hope you are praying for me. That we keep fighting, we keep surviving, and we keep overcoming.

 

You are strong! Find your strength.

 

 

 

 

Victim mentality

victim2

 

When you begin to think about all the negative things that were done to you or against youthe people who betrayed you, mistreated you, or left you… 

 

    Do you see yourself as a victim?

 

victim1

 

Somehow the effect of others on our own lives is sometimes unreasonably magnified. We begin to see ourselves through the eyes of other people instead of seeking ownership of our own identify in order to flourish despite hardship. To allow the actions of others to change you in a negative way is to give them a power over you they don’t deserve. It makes you twice a victim: a victim in the moment of abuse or hurt, and forever a victim holding on to a hurt that festers and multiples. We let ourselves become bitter and disenchanted, continually carrying a chip on our shoulder, when we should just take whatever pieces of wisdom and life lessons that experience taught us and live life fully empowered.

 

As a victim often times you are living with a burden that your abuser does not share. They may have moved on with their lives, but you can’t… or won’t let yourself do the same. The greatest comeback from any kind of difficult situation is happiness with self and peace. You are not your pain, or your abuse. You are greater than that and you have the power to mentally let go of the pain that you may have physically walked away from years ago.

 

Life is more than a series of good or bad events that happened to you. Well at least it can be more than that, if you decide to be an active participant in your own life. You are sitting in a parked car, and as the seasons change the heavy rain fall turns to bitter hail. All around you looks bleak and gloomy. But you are unaware that right across the street from you is a gas station. If you look into your pocket you will find enough bills for you fill your tank. Key in hand, tank full. YOU decide where you go. You can drive to the safety of shelter and rest close by, or if you are willing to travel a little further you can dwell in warmth and sunshine. You have the key. Your future direction is in your hand.

 

The past has already been written, but your future is a clean slate of endless opportunities. Be encouraged.

Happy

 

I started about three years ago, recording videos every once in a while, in which I would talk about the things on my mind. I’d gossip to the camera about my own life: the positive breakthroughs, my loved ones, school, and the things I was worrying about at that moment. Sometimes all it’d be is a video of me crying, and not actually saying anything comprehensible. What was the purpose of that you might ask? Well to me it has served as a history of my highs and lows. I can look back and observe my state of mind, the things that were bothering me and see if they were resolved, or if they still aren’t.

I can see how I’ve changed, how I’ve grown, and the ways I’ve stayed the same. And even though there were highs as well as lows in my life I realized I felt the lows more strongly and quickly forgot the highs. Today I logged in another video and literally my exact words when I started recording was “I am so happy.” And I am. 🙂  I’m really happy, and that’s a first. I have a type A personality so for me to not be obsessing over anything is a rarity. Your first inclination may be to ask why? Or what happened that has made me so happy? And the answer is simple. Nothing has happened. 🙂 At least nothing external has happened.

 

My life is not seemingly more perfect than it was a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a week ago. In fact God has been consistently awesome throughout my life. Yeah I have faced challenges and letdowns that to me—at the time—felt life-shattering. But that is my point. At that “time” it “felt” what I considered to be “life-shattering.” But it in fact did not shatter my life, and how I felt was constrained by time.

 

There are a couple things I have recently come to the realization of:

 

  1. There are very few things that time will not heal.

    Okay so I know you’re reading this and you’ve heard this all before, but you think this statement is not true, or at least that it doesn’t apply to you. That you’re facing something right now that time will not heal. And how do you know this? Well because you’re feeling this pain at this exact moment, and it’s so strong, and has lasted for so long–so surely it will last forever. But humanity has a certain resilience and a great emotional capacity to heal. It may take years. But you can overcome whatever event that has caused you pain—just be patient with yourself.

  2. Happiness – lasting happiness will never come solely from achievements

    …or fame, or another person’s love, etc. Yes these things in that moment can make us happy, but that feeling will not last. The truth is: there is at every moment things in our life that we can dwell on that can make us either happy or unhappy. And it is up to us to make that conscious decision to be happy. Which brings us to my next point,

  3. Happiness is a choice.

    You need to decide you want to live a happy life, and realize that your happiness is up to you. You cannot forever choose to be a victim of circumstance. You have to decide that you will control your emotions; and that your emotions will not control you. And that comes with realizing how easily we let our emotions envelop us. For years I’ve let sadness envelop me and recently I realized I do the same thing with anger. It consumes me and I simply self-implode. Once I realized this I decided to be more purposeful with the way I handle my life and my feelings. So on to the last point:

  4. Be purposeful.

    Why are you unhappy, or angry, or sad, or worried? If you don’t even have quiet time to reflect on your life, how can you improve it? How much time do you take in the day for you? I find peace when I go to the gym every day; it’s a time when I’m doing something just for me. When I walk the 30 minutes from home to work every day instead of using my car, I get time to listen to a sermon, or a TED talk, to think, unwind, and be purposeful about my day. As someone who has struggled with certain things, I have learned what my triggers are and try as much as possible to stay away from those situations.

In closing I just want to encourage you to stop looking for things outside of yourself to bring you lasting happiness. You need to decide to love yourself enough to listen to what you need, and with strength from God you can live the life you want and have the happiness you desire regardless of external circumstances.

I wish you well on your journey to  a happier you 🙂

 

God First

It has been almost 5 months since my last post… Yeah. I am as unimpressed as you should be. I have been too busy just existing. 2012 was a very hard year for me. And it all boils down to one reason. I didn’t put God first. I put EVERYTHING before God, and yes I hurt God, but I also hurt myself. Before I didn’t even know what to write, but now I know. Sometimes we think we follow God to make Him Happy. But the truth is. We follow God, because He gives us TRUE happiness. God gave me a second chance. Actually, He gave me a couple of second chances. This time, is the LAST time, and by His grace: I live for HIM. I speak for HIM. I exist for HIM. And I will write for HIM as well. I hope you will join me. Its going to be a great year 🙂

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalms 16:11

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