(By Michele Rosenthal,Author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future)
Everyone wants to be happy, right? We work, love, travel, pine, long for, dream and plan in hopes of bringing ourselves some pleasure. The quest for feeling good, actually, drives just about everything we do. I’ll bet right this minute you can think of things that would make you very, very happy indeed. And yet, despite a lot of effort you may not be as happy as you’d like. What’s standing in your way?
Often, the answer to that question is: You. How you approach the journey to happiness has everything to do with how and when and even whether you achieve it. Before you go one step further on the path, consider these four obstacles to happiness and take some steps toward eliminating them.
If you haven’t reached your palace of happiness, something’s getting in your way. Sometimes, there’s an obvious block — one that you’re aware of, or one so obvious you’ve overlooked it. Beginning to turn the tide on your Happiness Quotient (HQ) starts with one focused task: Assess your obstacles in every area that happiness seems elusive. This can include areas of your life such as work, health, relationships, spirituality, finances, family, and friends.
Taking each separate HQ segment, make a list of all the things standing in your way of pleasure in this area. Then, for each item on the list brainstorm all the actions you’d need to take to remove or get around those things. Finally, decide which area you’re going to work in first, and then: What will be the first action you take, and when will you take it. By the time you’ve mapped out all of this you will have a solid plan for overcoming the obstacles in your way.
What happens, though, if you take all kinds of actions and your HQ doesn’t increase? This can point to some deep-seated beliefs that might be getting in your way. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work: Assess your beliefs about happiness. In this moment, think about happiness. What do you believe is true about it, and about your having it? Many of your core belief systems come from how you were raised. What was the attitude toward happiness in your home? What did you, as a child, feel about happiness? Was it good or bad? Were you allowed to feel happy, or were you made to feel guilty or ashamed?
Today, you can decide what you wish your HQ belief to be. State it as a positive statement. Then, incorporate that statement into your daily life. You can do this through post-it notes in places you’re likely to look, a meditation mantra, and even affirmations you repeat at certain times throughout the day. If you want some extra kick to your new belief installation, choose one single action you can take each day to actualize that belief in your life.
When you become clear on your beliefs about happiness, you may find that those negative thoughts are actually sabotaging your HQ goals. As you work to shift them, it’s a good time to assess your HQ goals. If you’ve ever worked very hard to achieve something you believed would bring you happiness, only to find there was no happiness once you attained the thing you wanted, it may be time to take a look at what’s going on below the surface. Are you motivated to achieve HQ goals truly for your happiness, or are you chasing things just so that you can suppress or avoid dealing with something else?
It’s very common to put your focus in one place so that you can avoid focusing on something that may be uncomfortable. For example, a situation or a trauma in the past can still be nagging at you and so, even though you have achieved your HQ goal, the issue that’s causing your unhappiness still exists. It’s time to do the work that needs to be done so that you free yourself from what holds you back.
When you start shifting your beliefs and approach to HQ goals, you naturally have to you assess your commitment to achieving them. If you find that you quit at the first sign of a challenge or disappointment, you’ll need to find ways to strengthen your HQ quest endurance. This can mean identifying reasons why you quit — and finding ways around them, getting a buddy to travel the journey with you, finding support systems that help you stay focused and positive, or even rewarding yourself with gifts along the way for each part of the HQ goal being achieved.
As you figure out what’s blocking your happiness and how to remove those obstacles from your path, remember that to achieve anything of value takes time. Slow down, and allow yourself to move at a pace that brings happiness to you in an organic, holistic and solid way. Then, decide that you deserve it, acknowledge that you are worth it, and give yourself permission to enjoy happiness more than you ever thought you could!
© 2012 Michele Rosenthal, author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future
Michele Rosenthal, author of Before the World Intruded: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future, is a trauma survivor who struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 25 years. Today, Michele joyfully lives 100% free of PTSD symptoms.
The host of “Your Life After Trauma” on Seaview Radio, Michele is a mental health advocate, public speaker, award-winning blogger, writer, workshop/seminar leader and Post-Trauma Identity Coach.