Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fight for Happy

I'm one of those people that can make frequent posts about how happy I am at the moment or how great things are going. But here's the thing I need to celebrate those moments because to get there isn't always the case or easy.

I have a family history as well as my own experience with depression and bouts of unhappiness; however, my sister who is actually certified to diagnose people like me thinks anxiety is more my problem. I get over anxious about upcoming things or over stress about something I don't have control over, and that's when I get really short and impatient with the people around me and find myself in constant bouts of feeling down and mad.  But between family and friends I've seen too many that find themselves in these holes of unhappiness, and I've had my stretches of time there as well.  Sometimes the cause can be connected to things like depression and anxiety or it's the circumstances of life at that moment that we find ourselves trapped in, unsure how to escape or cope.

I'm not just thinking of myself here but also those I really care about that I feel spend way too much of their life unhappy, but for some of us it's work to be happy. Lucky for me I don't feel that it's an every day battle, but there are stretches of time where it can be. I know some where I think it has been a big part of their life battle.

Here's the thing. No matter what leads to our individual unhappiness, we all owe it to ourselves to fight for happy. Some of these tips of wisdom come from my dad who has definitely been the coach in helping me and others that struggle with stretches of chronic unhappiness:

1. Let it go: We can't control everything. At some point we have to trust the powers that be, God, the universe, and trust that life will work itself out. Storms always end. There's always light after the darkness. Sure, we're going to be disappointed and even rightfully mad but holding onto that only prevents our hope of eventual happiness. This is my biggest struggle with owning my own happiness. If I don't catch myself I will completely let the things I can't control or the things that didn't go my way bring me down, which usually results in me getting very irritable, which then results in me irrationally attacking others to vent my frustration.

2. Love yourself: Seriously. Maybe because I have daughters now but nothing pains me more than a girl that is constantly worried about her weight, her looks, what others think of her. Own who you are. I imagine it's kind of hard to find happiness if you don't completely embrace who you are. You do not need to be like anyone else. The world needs you to be you no matter what size or shape or image you are. I think this has been huge in where I find myself with the line between happy and unhappy. For most of my life I've been a pretty confident, self assured person, but when I found myself in my longest depressed state I also noticed I was no longer confident in myself in any of the roles I was in. None of us are perfect so we have to embrace our imperfections. We can work on them, but our flaws don't have to be what defines us. 

3. At some point you have to stop worrying about pleasing other people: This kind of goes with the other one. Whether it's the people you work for, work with, your friends, or even your own family if you're living your life to be something they want you to be again you can't find happiness if you're denying yourself your true self. Real friends and family will accept you the way you really are, and as a former coach told me, "The ones who mind don't matter, and the ones who matter don't mind." Unfortunately, some relationships can be toxic to us. It's not that that person is a bad person at all; it's just there's something about our own personality and theirs that creates toxic chemistry. I've had to learn to distance myself from these people. Sometimes they've been people I've really cared about, but again negative energy whether it's coming straight from them or a result of you and them together is just going to create unhappiness.

4. LIVE. If you let work consume your life you're not living. If you sit at home all the time, not getting out with family and friends you're not living. If  you're not doing something for yourself, you're not living. When we let work, the to do lists of home and work consume us, and again the doing everything for everyone else but leaving ourselves for last we're ceasing to live our life. We have to know ourselves, know our values, know what we really want out of life, and live it with purpose.

5. Look for Positive before the Negative: One of the most obvious things about people that struggle with their own happiness is they tend to see the negative before seeing the positive. Nothing to me shouts unhappiness more than people that spend more time talking down and criticize others or pointing out the negative rather than the positive in a situation constantly.  I purposefully focus on this now. I know myself too well, and I know if I don't purposefully look for the positive in the day and focus my energy there, I will let the one negative of the day own that day.

For some of us to be happy, to have happiness ,it is a fight. My own short struggle with this is minimal compared to what I've seen others battle with their whole life, but I also know I share very similar to traits to those I've watched struggle with this on and off their whole lives. I think some of us maybe even struggle more than we let on. Seeing your family or friends unhappy is really such a hard thing to see because sometimes they're in a state of denial of how they feel or what they need to change to feel better (I totally was), and as  friend or family you want to help but if they're in denial you're just kind of stuck as they swim in their own dark hole of unhappiness. But we all deserve to be happy, and when we're not we owe it to ourselves and those we love and that love us to take a hard look at our life and fight for happy.

This is why I shut down that voice of unhappiness and instead listen to the one that celebrates the happiness in life.

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