Letting Yourself Be Happy
Two red flowers on the end of white branches, and against a green background.
Letting yourself be happy, that is a key to enjoying a meaningful life.
Living a life full of Joy, Peace, and Contentment (JPC) is an exercise in letting go of our emotional survival programs (you can read about emotional survival programs and how they try to control you in my new book, here). Letting go of our “need” for a sense of approval, a sense of security, and a sense of control gives us the room in our lives to have real approval, real security, and real control. But there is a catch; it probably goes against everything you’ve learned, been taught, and believe.
Is a life filled with Joy, Peace, and Contentment worth it to you? Are you willing to begin letting yourself be happy? You will have to unlearn a lot of things. In the beginning, you will have to override what you feel frequently. You will often think this is totally against everything you may believe about how the world functions. Are you willing to feel uncomfortable for a while if the payoff is being happy, loving more deeply, and living your dreams?
I realize those are crazy questions. Of course, we all want to be happier, love more deeply, and live our dreams. “Why would you even ask, Blair?” I can imagine you thinking. I ask these questions because the path to Joy, Peace, and Contentment often doesn’t feel right initially. It may feel wrong to you because it usually goes against everything we’ve been taught or have learned our whole life about how to function in the world.
On top of that, we are emotional beings, and thus, we think that if something feels wrong, it must be wrong. We have to see beyond how we feel to begin letting our deepest desires express themselves. This subject requires much more explanation than is possible in one short blog post. Thus, I’ll introduce you to the basics here and ask you to read my book or contact me about coaching or classes to go further.
Learning to Create Our Life
Let’s start with a straightforward question which frequently is formidable to answer. Are you feeling anything? Ask yourself this question repeatedly until you know what you’re feeling and when you’re feeling it.
You are experiencing emotions right now. Can you sense it? Answering that question is an essential insight into yourself. Some emotion is always influencing our behaviors, especially when we’re unaware that we’re feeling it.
Is the emotion that you’re experiencing positive or negative? Once you are aware of your emotions, you can see beyond the actions that the feelings are driving you to take. “See beyond” means looking at the action you feel like taking, and then looking at your dreams, and deciding if the emotional behavior furthers your goals or not. Here’s a hint: frequently, they don’t.
Separating Who You Are From How You Feel
Start expressing your emotions as how you feel instead of who you are. When you’re feeling happy, say “I feel happy” instead of, “I’m happy.” When you feel anger, tell yourself, “I feel angry” instead of, “I’m angry.” When you feel down or bad about yourself, say “I feel depressed” instead of, “I’m depressed.” This verbal skill is paramount to separate who you are from how you feel. Saying I feel shifts your identity from believing that you are your emotions to understanding that you are more than the feelings coursing through your body.
Letting yourself be happy entails some discipline.
Start a daily focus or meditation practice. Start small and simple. Pick something to look at, listen to, touch, or say in your mind or outloud, focusing on that object. When you notice your mind drifting away to something else, gently refocus your attention back onto your object of concentration. Do this twice a day for three minutes (I recommend that you set a timer, so you’re not worried about looking at the clock). The point of this exercise is to notice when you drift. This noticing gently teaches you to become aware of your thoughts and feelings, which significantly helps with the three previous practices.
After a week, increase the time to four minutes, and a week later up to five, and so on. Science has shown that the most significant benefit comes from 12 minutes or more, twice a day. If this is a new exercise to you, though, start with three minutes and slowly add more time.
These Simple Exercises Help You Learn to See Yourself As You Are
At your authentic self and deepest personal level, you are created in the image and likeness of God. You are made precisely as the Universe wants you to be. You may not feel that way the majority of the time, though.
The purpose of the disciplines mentioned above is to aid you in seeing yourself in this new paradigm.
As you practice them, you’ll start to see yourself as you were made, and not just as you feel. You may not notice or feel worthy or whole right away; it takes time for our life to reflect our disciplines. However, with practice, you will grow into a happiness that isn’t easily explainable. Then you’ll start letting the wonder and Joy, Peace, and Contentment fill your life.
May you find and create Joy, Peace, and Contentment today.
First Posted December 19, 2014
Updated February 1, 2021