I follow Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project, and last week I read something about another blog, Work Happy Now. Both authors suggest thought processes and behaviors to promote a positive frame of mind and reduce the time we spend indulging in complaining and negative inner-chatter as a means of increasing our state of overall happiness. The methodologies seem to have plenty of merit and I have no doubt that if I spent a fraction of the amount of time thoughtfully addressing the way that I process my thoughts as I do watching television, I could certainly increase my baseline level of happiness.
Cristy and I were discussing happiness last week. We know a number of individuals that are going through a difficult period and others that always seem to be going through a difficult period. There are few to whom we would freely acknowledge the complete extent of our happiness. With others, the admission of personal happiness is modestly tempered with gratitude, and if mentioned at all to anyone else, we would tend to indicate our happiness only in passing then quickly change the subject to something benign.
The truth is that for some, there is shame attached to owning happiness. It seems to be such a rare commodity, as though there is not enough available to alleviate the stress, dissatisfaction and frustration prevalent in the lives of so many. We feel shame because we know what it is like to live with a diminished sense of happiness, so now, by contrast, living in a reality steeped in happiness seems indulgent. Our shame whispers to us in the darkened recessed corners of our consciousness that we don’t really deserve it at all; it will undoubtedly dissipate.
And unfortunately, the powers of negative thinking are as strong as the powers of positive thinking. If I permit the idea that my happiness will dissipate to develop into a belief, then I will begin to act as though it were true. My state of mind will have transformed my reality.
Thankfully, my level of happiness is far stronger than my shame at being happy.
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