Friday, October 18, 2013
The Myth of Happiness
In an article from the Huff Post web site, Martha Beck lists several life lessons she states we need to unlearn, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/life-lessons-to-unlearn-martha-beck-advice_n_4058438.html . On her list, and the one that applied to me the most, was:
“It's important to stay happy. Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don't have to be happy to feel good. If that sounds crazy, try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, "I must stay happy!" Stressful, isn't it? Now say, "It's okay to be as sad as I need to be." This kind of permission to feel as we feel -- not continuous happiness -- is the foundation of well-being.” ~Martha Beck
In the culture of positive thinking, permission to feel the dark side of emotions and feelings can get lost. I have stumbled over this on my journey through the grieving process from losing my mother who died on August 30th.
My journey of grieving has been a walk, and sometimes a crawl, through a series of stages articulated by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. The stages of grief; there are 5 of them: 1) Denial, 2) Anger, 3) Bargaining,
4) Depression, and 5) Acceptance, take on a whole new meaning as I become immersed in them.
I recently experienced the depression phase, where loss of vitality, apathy, and sadness pulled me into a dark, very unpleasant cloud of non-living. I despaired at feeling so low; I considered myself a failure at living a positive life. My thoughts seemed to feed on this state of ennui creating an ever deepening foreboding; my life was a failure; all things negative were plaguing my mind and my heart.
Then, that still small voice within stated very clearly that I was in the depression phase of my grief. Aha! There would be an end to this! I could give myself permission to be depressed and stay the course. I used the spiritual tools of prayer, mantras/affirmations, music, meditation, and spiritual writings to remind myself that even though I did not feel the love, peace and joy, that it would come back; for the scariest part of depression was the emotional experience of the loss of hope, of motivation and inspiration.
As I accepted depression it abated. Hallelujah! No resistance to anything—lack of happiness or no lack of happiness—has come around the circle of life to remind me again, and again.
So, the myth to stay happy has been revamped in my world. Stay in non-resistance to what is happening. Find the spiritual tools that provide a life line to living and purpose, to peace and acceptance and all will pass away; the season will turn and will be new once again.