Is Happiness Really Possible for Everyone?4/11/2013
by Denise J. Hart (@ MotivationMama ) You would think that happiness would be a celebrated state ...
by Denise J. Hart (@MotivationMama)
You would think that happiness would be a celebrated state of being, however, it's been my experience that for many people happiness is hard to come by and can be met with scorn and suspicion when it's around in abundance.
When I was seventeen, a female friend of my older brother made a comment to me that I always walked around looking like I was so happy.
Now, ever since I was a child, I've been a brazen optimist, so on the one hand I wasn't surprised that I was being called out for something that's been a part of my personality for as long as I can remember. However, the way she said it made it sound like I never experienced other feelings. Her tone made me very uncomfortable. As I stood there feeling the flush of a shame I couldn't understand, I watched most of the women in the beauty shop turn towards me as if I needed to explain why I had the nerve to walk around being happy. I responded "I'm not always happy because then I would be fake. I just don't go around wearing all of my feelings on my sleeve." It wasn't my intention, but my brother's friend thought I was being a smart-alec, when I was just being honest.
The woman's comment stuck with me because when she responded to my retort, I could tell that she felt somewhat envious of my ability to be happy. I was young and she was older and owned a beauty shop so I couldn't quite figure out why she was responding to me with so much envy.
Then, I once dated a black guy who called me a happy white person. I thought to myself, "here we go again!" I was taken aback by him aligning happiness with being white, so I asked him why couldn't I just be a happy black person. He said that in his experience it was mostly white people who were as happy-go-lucky as I was. He said I was an interesting anomaly.
Over the years his comment stuck with me not so much because of his insistence that I couldn't be black and happy, but that being around someone who could remain in a prolonged state of happiness was something so incredibly foreign to him.
Then, a few years after that incident, I had a new student in one of my acting classes, and I asked him to do an exercise where he had to experience happiness in a fictional acting/improvisation scenario. He looked at me for a moment as if he needed me to clarify the exercise, so I did, and he proceeded to attempt to do it. He started and stopped a few times and then he finally turned to me with a very somber look on his face and said he couldn't do the exercise because he didn't know what it meant to be happy. He said "I don't know how to feel that." Happiness was a totally unfamiliar feeling for him.
I told him that it wasn't a problem and I immediately gave him some homework. His task was to take the blinders off of his emotions and to pay attention to and observe real people in situations that he could tell were happy ones. He had to do this for two weeks. He also had to write about what he observed in his journal and write down how he felt as he observed those real life situations of happiness. He did the work outside of class and at the next class when it was his turn to revisit the happiness exercise, without hesitation he threw himself into the improvised world and had everyone in the room riveted as we watched him express an emotion that he previously had so much trouble with. Many of us were moved to tears. We were moved because we had been witness to his total inability to feel and express such a vital feeling and now he was expressing happiness with so much zest and abandon that it was a liberating experience for us all. At the end of the exercise he thanked me because he said that he finally felt free.
That was eight years ago and now that young man is in his late twenties. We're friends on facebook and every now and again he'll leave a three word comment on my facebook page, "I'm still happy."
The title of this article can actually be answered with one word, yes. Yes, happiness is a possibility for everyone. However, working with my students and coaching clients, has shown me that happiness is a state of being that many don't or won't wholeheartedly embrace. Again, through my experience helping hundreds of people move forward in their life, I've identified three reasons why this happens. If you'd like to experience more happiness in your life you'll want to pay close attention to the following:
- Fear - fear of losing happiness and not being able to get it back from the person or situation that you're associating your happiness with. Solution - Happiness is only fleeting if we limit our ability to experience the feeling to how someone or something makes us feel. You can decide that you want to be happy purely for the joy of being happy. Happiness makes you feel good and you can choose to experience that on your own without any external stimulation.
- Conditioning - familial/social conditioning - if your family culture is not a happy one you're more inclined to unconsciously play out the states of being that you're most familiar with. Solution - become more conscious of the emotional conditioning in your family and social environment. You don't have to go along with the group to get along. Take small steps to add more happiness to your life and you just might end up affecting those around you to experience the goodness of being happy for the sake of being happy!
- Lack of Confidence - this one actually is a cousin to social conditioning. When you spend your energy fitting into a group, i.e. mimicking the behaviors of the group, you end up with less confidence and you're less comfortable being yourself. Your ability to explore different parts of your personality become less available to you and you end up becoming a conformist. Solution - Be pushy. Demand more of yourself so you can break out of your comfort zone. Using an affirmation is a great way to help you change your thinking. Try: I freely expressing genuine happiness.
I encourage you to get free and do like the popular song from the 90's said, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" It really is worth it.
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Denise J. Hart, known as The Motivated Mindset Coach, is committed to helping women KICK fear to the curb and Rock their Mindset Mojo 24/7! She's the author of the forthcoming book, "Your Daily Mindset Mojo - insightful messages from the heart helping women experience more meaning, fulfillment & joy!” Receive your own free daily Mindset Mojo Messages at http://www.365daysofmindsetmojo.com