Are you letting yourself be happy?
Too often the worries and complications of life take over. You sit and ponder what your existence is about. Why am I in this job? Why did I get married? What’s going to happen next in my life? How come I don’t have enough money?
Sure, life’s challenges and situations need to be addressed. You can’t simply ignore being hungry, having the utilities shut off, or collectors calling you at all hours. You can’t pretend you have a wonderful picture perfect marriage if all you and your spouse do is argue. You know you hate each other, and you’re positive you won’t be happy until one of you leaves. There’s never enough money. Even if you’re making oodles of cash, your expectations of where the money should go doesn’t always match where the money is really spent. Sometimes letting yourself be happy seems impossible.
Your mind lies to you.
It’s often not enough to say, “Be happy. Your life is good.” Your belief system will overrule anything your mind tells you, and your mind will lie to you.
The brain is a wonderful, complicated machine. Not only is it responsible for operating the body, it’s also the place where creativity finds its spark, where intuition speaks, and where doubt and fear live. Even today scientists still don’t fully understand the human brain. Religions and philosophies point to the brain as the place where the soul connects with the universe. Others believe the mid-brain is the actual repository of the human soul.
Your brain, that awesome piece of human evolution, certainly knows how to lie to you. It stores everything that happens in your life. Literally everything! You probably don’t remember what happened to you when you were one year old, but that information is stored somewhere in long-term memory. Everything you do is tagged and processed. Then your brain points to a memory. Your mind allows doubt, fear, anxiety, joy, happiness – any emotion it has in its database about similar situations.
This is when your mind will lie to you. Your brain wants you to choose a reaction, but it’s giving you positive and negative emotions. The tendency of the mind is to believe bad things are worse than they are, and good things aren’t as good as they are. Your mind can choose whatever way it wants to go. Your brain on the other hand is wired to choose the bad over the good simply because of evolution. Remember the “Fight or Flight” behaviour? The first response your brain has is that this is a bad situation if it’s producing anxiety or fear, even if it’s not true. Riding a roller coaster is exciting and nerve wrecking. It’s your mind that tells you to get on the ride even though your brain might be telling your body to get out of there.
You choose to punish yourself.
Your mind fabricates fear. Fear and anxiety are powerful emotions. Unless you’re superhuman and have the ability to block all negative thoughts, you’ll listen to those negative thoughts. You’ll hear that you wasted your time, you’re life isn’t what you expected, and you’re screwed because you can’t yet retire. It might all be true, but it probably isn’t as bad as you believe. There’s a tendency to believe bad things are worse than they are, and good things aren’t as good as they are.
Choosing to punish yourself happens when there are more negative thoughts than positive ones. Negative thoughts aren’t necessarily more powerful than positive ones. It just that they project more fear and anxiety. People always go for the next happiness, the next level of joy. If something is fearful or produces anxiety, the normal reaction is to run away. If you can’t run away, you may feel trapped. Your mind will react whatever direction you choose to emotionally go. If you believe the negative thoughts, then you’ll start thinking and acting in a way that matches the negative thoughts.
If you repeat a behaviour often enough, it forms a habit. Habit becomes attitude. Attitude becomes belief.
A positive attitude can be achieved by changing your habit. It’s easier said than done. For instance, you have enough money to take a vacation, but you have the habit of worrying over bills and wanting to save money. Instead of going on a vacation, you might keep putting it off because if you take time off from work, you won’t have money saved up. Even if you go on vacation and genuinely enjoy yourself, when you get back to work the old habit of worrying about money takes over. You’ll feel guilty or even angry that you took time off. But it’s stupid thing to be upset about having fun. Don’t you deserve to be happy? Don’t you have the right to have fun? Why are you choosing to punish yourself?
Letting yourself be happy isn’t complicated. It only gets complicated when you believe you don’t deserve to be happy. Finding simple joys of everyday living can lift you out of negative thoughts. It takes more effort to get out of a negative situation, but it’s not impossible. Are you letting yourself be happy?
*Click here to read more about Terezia Farkas and Depression Help.