Is Happiness Really a Choice?
I have been hearing this idea for as long as I can remember. Choose to be happy!
Crying as a child in my room, experiencing being a teenager, dealing with deep depression and suicidal tendencies as a young woman.
The past week or so I have woken up every morning around 5 am, and have immediately burst into tears. I know why, I’m weeding some thick roots.
For about the past year, I too have been on the “choose to be happy!” bandwagon. Be positive! JUST BE POSITIVE.
Well, blessedly a reminder has come for me. That is—sometimes when the heart is anvil-heavy with sadness, the gut is blazing with anxiety, the mind is foggy with depression, we can’t “just be positive”.
We CAN however, choose to move toward happiness.
I teach that in order to heal ourselves we have to communicate with our bodies and allow the blocked residual energy of trauma and old wounding to be released so that we may make space for joy and peace.
When we have not had a moment to remove these blockages then of course the idea of choosing to be happy eludes us—seems impossible, may even make us sadder or extremely angry. “Who wouldn’t CHOOSE to be happy?” “I can’t even lift my head, but thanks so much for the tip!”
I am well aware that as we go through the beginning stages of healing our depression, sadness and lethargy are much more comfortable. But if you can find the seed of self-love and give it just a bit of water, just do one thing in a move toward happiness, eventually you’ll have a full watering can and find yourself standing in an entirely new garden.
I am able to choose to move toward happiness because I have been speaking with my heart for over a year, have been practicing yoga for 5 and have removed much of the negativity that was blocking me from my path. Now, when the negativity comes back, I have a bit more space to breathe and observe and can therefore help myself in a greater capacity—I have the tools to move toward happiness.
But I had to start somewhere too. I had to get to that first yoga class, and I had to stay.
Now, instead of staying bed ridden let alone all day but for weeks, instead of eating until I can’t think, instead of allowing the misery to become me—I choose to be kind to myself.
I am compassionate in what I’m able to do—if it’s just getting out the door for a coffee when leaving the house seems scary and impossible or just taking a shower when getting out of bed seems scary and impossible, I congratulate myself.
I do not act in ways that perpetuate self -hatred, like over eating. Instead I choose action that will bring me empowerment and therefore help me rise from the storm.
I allow myself to feel my sadness. I think the true problem with the idea that we can choose to be happy is that it shames our darkness, our shadows. It makes us feel like we are wasting something, doing something wrong—which only worsens the problem. We are sad, we don’t know why—we can’t seem to come out of it, and now someone is telling us we simply have to choose to do so. It is not always that easy, and you have a right to your emotions. The only difference is you can’t allow your emotions to become your definition of yourself—they are an experience, and you can handle them.
If you need a moment to do nothing, to take a hot shower, to watch something stupid—my honey don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. Just cultivate the ability to know when it’s time to stop; practice your yoga, find your healing modality.
I don’t attach to the sadness anymore, I flow. I used to be of the mindset, “I’m sad now—I always will be. I’m a sad person.” This isn’t true. This morning, like clockwork, I woke up far too early with far too many tears. I let them come, and somehow I managed to start working on our mailing list, spoke with Lindsay, and set up some facebook posts, oh and wrote this—the sadness has subsided. My heart is still talking, but it’s bearable. I could have instead clung onto the sadness, the thoughts that cause the sadness-but I moved my focus (because I knew it would help me) and I feel better.
I do not fear the sadness returning, and I don’t go seeking it when it disappears—I let myself feel how I feel. Right now, in this moment, I feel ok. I’m not going to worry about the potential of the tears and heaviness coming back, and I’m not going to resurrect the kind of thoughts that heed their return, I’m just going to allow myself to be peaceful.
I am PRESENT. When I’ve been sad, but am in a situation that could be spectacular, I let myself be in the situation and I let it be spectacular. I woke up crying Sunday morning–but I had a beautiful day planned with my sisters. I let the tears come and go, and then I became present and grounded in the moment I was having with them and I had one of the greatest, most laughter filled days of my life.
I woke up crying Monday morning, but that did not negate the beauty of Sunday. I have also learned that when we don’t practice presence in dealing with sadness we become sadder because we feel like we’ve wasted opportunities–if I had allowed my sadness to consume me Sunday (old Diana would not have even gone) I would have given the negativity power, and I would have caused myself more suffering by beating myself up for missing a great time, and I would have robbed myself of a truly incredible day. Allow yourself to be where you are, and always remember to flow.
I do things I know will make me feel better even if I don’t want to. I know when the time is right because I have cultivated a relationship with my truth and my heart, I can hear myself. My mind, my sadness, does not want to go to the gym right now—but my heart, my truth knows that disappearing into Michael Jackson WHILE releasing endorphins can only make me feel better. Better because I’m choosing to be healthy mentally and physically, better because I’m not allowing sadness to control me, to rob me of my day and the peace I find at the gym (even though that would definitely be easier—did I mention I ((my ego!)) really doesn’t want to go?!)
I replace the sadness and the shaming, punishing, unkind things I say to myself with positive affirmations or mantra, because it trains the mind and it brings empowerment. Pluspositive vibrations and thoughts bring positive manifestations.
Practice breath work, do asana, exercise, go for somatic experiencing or reiki, balance your chakras–the negative energy must be removed for the positive energy to have room to move in. Like I’ve said before, if the garage is full of junk, there’s no room for a ferrari.
To tell someone to choose to be happy is unfair. But my angels, our starstuffs, you can definitely choose to move toward happiness.