Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Active happiness"

The question of "comfort vs. happiness" comes up repeatedly in my sessions. A lot of my clients come to me to help sort out where they are in their lives and how it aligns with and supports where they want to be. Often, people are feeling some kind of existential "emptiness" that they can't quite put their finger on. My first question is always this: 

"Are you happy?" 

Usually the answer is…"not really" followed by a "…but…" 

Oftentimes, the problem is just that we don't know what it even feels like, much less what will make us "happy". Happiness is this elusive state of being that we can't even really imagine. Some of us don't feel, at our core, that we are entitled to happiness. Some of us have responsibilities and obligations that preclude us from prioritizing our own happiness. We feel selfish when we take inventory of our lives and see that while we've been so busy supporting and taking care of the people we love, we have neglected to attend to our own happiness. Some of us just feel stuck in endless loops of getting by and getting through each day. 

And it's hard to put a finger on what doesn't feel right, when you're just getting through each day. Sometimes we don't even know what we're missing until we get a taste of it. I use the analogy of chronic pain. Sometimes we can get so used to something in our body being off or in pain that we just stop noticing it. But then when it stops hurting, we are like, HOLY SH*T I FEEL AMAZING. That's what it feels like when you suddenly get a taste of active happiness after years of just getting by. That is the beautiful thing I get to witness at work all the time. 

The thing is: just because you're comfortable or familiar with the feelings you have now, doesn't mean you're "happy". 

Active happiness is my goal for each client, regardless of their unique individual circumstances. By my definition, active happiness is the state of being genuinely content. All is well. Full of gratitude. More often than not, optimistic. Able to be present in the current moment. Connected in a deep way to the people we love. Nourishing our spirit in whatever ways resonate with us. Taking care of our bodies. 

Etc. 

You'd be amazed at the number of people in the world who are simply not happy. 

Ironically, sometimes *getting* happy requires a major upset. Perhaps something happens that shakes us to our core and forces us to take inventory. I have mentioned before that I have clients come to me in the midst of crises of spirit all the time. There has been a death, a loss, an illness, an infidelity, a move, a birth. 

In the midst of the crisis, it becomes clear that all is not well. Something is out of alignment. Sometimes in the process of moving through and healing from whatever the crisis is, it becomes clear where changes must occur to achieve this state of active happiness. Sometimes people may even look back and be glad whatever crisis happened, because if it hadn't, s/he could still be trudging along in their empty-but-comfortable life. 

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