It’s Not All Puppy Dogs and Roses

bad_day22Life. Sometimes it sucks. I have a bad day. Or I’m in a lousy mood for no particular reason. What the hell is wrong with me?

Lately I’ve been beating myself up for not being happy all the time. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know I’ve been feeling down, unmotivated, confused, afraid and ‘trying’ to accept that. My success rate is pretty dismal. Truth be told I’ve been resisting it with every fiber of my being.

Why?

Because I have a belief I’m supposed to be happy all the time. Or at least as often as possible. And when I’m not happy, I should be actively working to shift my mood so I can be happy again. Working at happiness. That sounds fun, right?

It’s not.

There’s a fine line between healthy positivity and neurotic obsessing. I should know. I cross it regularly. And when I can’t be positive and happy and in love with life every minute of every day, I beat myself up. I compare myself to other people who seem to have it altogether. But I had it all wrong.

As Bridgette Boudreau wrote in her post My So-Called Emotional Life, “Happiness in its healthy state is a passing emotion. Its role is to show us when a particular thing or event is joyful and then it passes. Happiness is not intended to be a static state.”

Whoa!

The down times don’t mean I don’t have a good life or I’ve chosen the wrong path, or there’s something wrong with me, or whatever other meaning I assign to them. They’re just a reminder I’m human.

When I constantly strive to maintain a state happiness, anything less feels like failure. I don’t blame myself entirely…I had some help. Everywhere you turn the message is happiness at all costs. We’ve created an entire industry around it. It’s called advertising. Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read a magazine, or even my favorite genre of books, self-help, and you’ll hear someone touting happiness like it’s the end all be all. Buy this product, take this pill, get this job, go on this vacation, find the perfect mate. And on and on it goes. The message is your goal should be happiness…24/7.

And I bought it. Hook. Line. Sinker.

As Bridgette goes on to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) the real goal is peace…no matter what emotion you’re feeling. What a relief!

The last month has been difficult. And even though I’m not on top of the world, I am feeling like I’m slowly coming out of this. That’s the way it usually goes. My friend Donna reminded me, “Maybe you just needed to rest.” She could be right. I certainly did alot of that over the last month. Maybe there was some emotion I needed to feel, that I wasn’t allowing myself to have. Maybe there was no reason at all. I’d love to say I’ll handle things differently next time. That I won’t fight it so hard. That I’ll realize it will pass. But I can’t say that with any amount of certainty. What I can say is I discover a little more each time I go to that dark place.

Slowly I’m learning whatever it is I’m feeling–happy, sad, afraid, joyful–I can just be with it. Invite it in. Make peace with it. And let it go on its way when it’s done with me. I don’t have to hold on so tightly. It will take some practice. I will forget. And then something will remind me. Isn’t that what life’s all about?

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

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I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

candcbigThere’s alot of talk this time of year about New Year’s Resolutions. Set goals, make changes, plan for the future. Honestly, just thinking about it is exhausting!

If you read my post No More New Year’s Resolutions at this time last year  you know I realized resolutions, such as getting more organized, losing weight, or paying off debt, were just something I used to beat myself up; to not accept myself as I am. Though they appeared well intended at first, striving for them always kept the life I wanted just out of reach.

Like the ever-elusive dangling carrot, I believed making good on my resolutions would finally make me happy. I was living the “I’ll be happy when” lie. “I’ll be happy when I get to my goal weight, I’ll be happy when my house is organized, I’ll be happy when I pay off my debt.” “I’ll be happy when” is a trap. Because that belief asserts I need to do or be or accomplish something to be happy. And it seemed I could never quite get there. Or, if I did, I couldn’t manage to stay there very long. So a couple years ago I decided to stop making resolutions and just get on with the business of living my life.

Now, instead of resolutions, I set intentions for myself. Ways of being I’d like to be more focused on. Something to come home to when I get off track (and I do) from time to time. My theme for 2013 is Courage and Clarity.

Courage: To be who I am, to follow my dreams, to live by and break my own rules, to stand up for what I believe in and to lay down and rest when I need to.

Clarity: Of heart, body, mind and soul. Tuning inward to hear my intuition and do what’s in my own best interest. Even, or especially, if that means doing nothing at all.

This doesn’t mean I give up the idea of changing things that aren’t working for me or striving for something that’s important to me. It just means I’m not waiting until I do, be, or have something in order to fully inhabit each day as it comes. I can stand in Courage and Clarity at any moment…no matter what’s going on in my life. It’s not easy and I sometimes find myself back on the hamster wheel of DOing instead of BEing. It’s then that I remind myself there’s nothing to do and I have everything I need.

As 2012 comes to a close, my life doesn’t look the way I thought it would when we ushered in this year 365 days ago. I’m struggling with a health issue, I was recently laid off from my job and I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. But surprisingly I feel more at peace than I ever did while I was busy chasing those things I thought would make my life complete.

I do love the magic of a new year. It feels like a turning point where we can leave the past behind and start anew. But the truth is we can don’t have to wait for January 1st. We can start over any day we choose. Every day, every hour, every minute is another opportunity to choose to be present and live the life that’s right in front of us. Those extra pounds and clutter and debt ARE our life. Don’t be so busy trying to change things that you miss how truly perfect it already is.

As we welcome a new year, I’m wishing you peace and presence on this day and every day you are blessed to experience.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Why Did I Publish That?

When I published my last post, “The Soft Spot Between A Rock and A Hard Place,” I felt good. Relieved even. Instead of faking it and pretending ‘I’m fine,’ I shared how hard things have been lately. I was proud of myself for being that open, that vulnerable, that raw. It wasn’t easy to admit those things, but I thought they needed to be said.

And then it happened. I didn’t get any feedback. No comments, or thoughts, or ‘I can’t believe you just said that’. A few ‘Likes’, but other than that, no feedback at all, really. (For the purpose of clarity, the comment on my previous post came after I’d already written, but not published, the post you’re reading now.)

Suddenly the voices in my head were on a mission and self-doubt was their goal. “You shouldn’t have admitted those things. You should be more positive. No one cares about your problems. Quit whining. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.” And on and on…until I wondered why I started this blog in the first place.

Here’s how it normally goes down. I think, I write, I pour my heart out on the page, I post…and then that thought creeps in. “What will people think of me?” I want to be honest and open. That is the purpose of this blog, after all. But there’s honest…and then there’s ‘haven’t showered in three days honest.’ And I’m guessing that second one is a little too messy for some people. Who admits that sort of thing, anyway?

I do.

Because sometimes life is hard. I’m not going to deny that. And sometimes I cry and fall apart and feel sorry for myself. And then I pick myself up and keep going. Because giving up is not an option. But pretending I’m fine when I’m not is not okay either. It’s a balance. There are highs and there are lows. You can’t have one without the other. That’s just the natural rhythm of things.

Here’s what I believe. Life is not meant to be happy, up, positive all the time. Especially if those feelings aren’t real. Life is meant to be peaceful. And that peace comes in accepting that sometimes things are hard and they suck and we struggle. Because that’s what helps us grow. And learning to be with the difficult times is what makes those joy-filled moments oh so much sweeter!

As Elizabeth Lesser wrote in her book, Broken Open, “How odd that if we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us–if we peer fearlessly into the shadows–we stumble upon the light.”

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

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