Cultivating Happiness

“Are you enjoying your time,
or is it torture to be quarantined together?”

Stay with me and I’ll show you how to…

  • recognise happy
  • react or not
  • create new habits

 

Are you thrilled to have the extra time with your partner, or is this the worst thing imaginable for you? To be cooped up, trapped at home, with this person? Perhaps you were either getting to, or had reached, a place where it was actually working. You’d found that place of contentment, even happy, and now your life has been turned upside down.

I was once asked by a man to call his wife and ask her if she’d be willing to join him in couples sessions with me. He felt I would be able to introduce myself and my qualifications better than he would, and that by speaking with me, she would get a feel of whether she’d want to join the sessions. I wondered if he felt she’d shoot down the mere suggestion of it if he had broached the possibility on his own, so I called her. We spoke at great length that day, and I listened to her describe their life over almost three decades.

“Oh, so this is his latest thing, is it? After I’ve had to deal with his depression, addictions to pain medication and alcohol, moods, and the lawsuits that have drained us financially over years and years. Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to leave, but haven’t? I know I have my own things and I’m not brave enough to go, but really?. I’m supposed to change just to make him happy?!? I don’t think he even knows or can recognise when he’s happy!!! He’s never satisfied, always miserable… W T — ?” She got more angry as we spoke. When she finished, I left it as her choice to come or not. No pressure, no expectations. Because she wanted to hear what he had to say, so she agreed to join us. It was a challenging session to say the least.

However, it’s those original questions and statements that have haunted me since: I’m supposed to change just to make him happy?!? I don’t think he even knows or can recognize when he’s happy!!! He’s never satisfied, always miserable…

Do we create our own happiness? What do you think? Is it possible to live in our own little happiness? Or does living with someone mean we are heavily influenced by their happiness? What’s your opinion or belief on this? Or is it just a choice?

 

Either way, I’m here with five tips to get you started…

1) Define Happiness for YOU. ​What would you like to think, feel, and experience? I’m imagining that you’re wanting experiences that make you feel needed, wanted, and loved. So, think long and hard about where you have been in the past (time, place, person) when you’ve felt that needed, wanted, and loved. That’s what you recognise / acknowledge as happiness. It may be a moment in time or longer. It’s yours, not mine nor anyone else’s — how your mind, body and soul felt. in that moment. That’s Your Happiness.

2) Decide: To React or Not To React? ​Listening to free-flying insults designed to provoke you is not acceptable, nor a solution. A knee-jerk response from you, free-flying insults, hoping to provoke them is not acceptable, nor a solution. Emotion meeting Emotion escalates and, more often than not, implodes! Practice a healthier response for fifteen minutes every day.

a)  Sitting together with no distractions (phones off, no internet, no tv, no children close by).

b)  Face-to-face, take turns listening, fully engaged. Don’t interrupt. Don’t problem-solve. Don’t criticize. Don’t put them down..

c)  Ask them to do the same for you. By becoming a Great Listener, you gain the right to then ask for the same in return.

3) Acknowledge resentments and unresolved problems in your relationship. ​Start by making individual lists. Decide together if there are any outstanding complaints that can be easily rectified. Take one from each list to satisfy a win-win for everyone.

4)  Try to talk with honesty and openness about sensitive issues involving Trust and Respect. ​Now you very well may not get anywhere with this. These are the painful and delicate areas. Go gently. But try. By gaining balance in your life, you can then concentrate on filling your life with happiness.

5)  Build the Happy Habit. ​Remember days when you felt happier, lighter, smiled more, and felt hopeful? When there was a lightness in your step and a feeling that you could tackle anything? Well, it’s that feeling that I want you to focus on. A bad habit has taken root and has now become your norm. But they say a new habit can be established in 21 days. So, why not take the challenge using this lockdown?

a)  Before you even open your eyes in the morning, say to yourself — in your head or out loud, “This is going to be a good day! I’m going to be happy. Now what do I have to look forward to today?”

b)  Visualize the upcoming events and imagine them going well.

c)  Be consistent every day. Don’t leave anything out of the visualization.

Training your thoughts, your mood, and planning for good feelings can move you into a better place — creating a new habit from which your happiness can flourish.

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