Happiness. Something that seems incredibly simple to attain, yet most people fail miserably on their contentment quests. I have found in analyzing my character traits and behavior over the past few years, that I have many road blocks on my highway to bliss. They are in the forefront of my mind everyday. Some days, it’s a simple “Proceed with Caution Zone”, others require an entire detour from the original route. I have learned that I first have to identify which joy thief is blocking my merriment path that particular day, then take the necessary steps to promptly kick its ass out of my way. Does this take a lot of effort? Yes. Is it worth it to not be a miserable cow? In my opinion, yes.
1.Fear AKA Biggest Dream Crusher I Know
I have lived damn-near my entire life in fear and did not have that epiphany until about four years ago. I have let it keep me from trying new things, taking on new challenges, and following dreams. I used to let it literally crush me on a daily basis, tell me I’m not good enough for years, and keep me in a prison of my own making. Well, gratefully I read some really awesome books and heard some really awesome people speak then realized my actions were dread-based, sucked, and needed to kick rocks. I told fear where to go, and it no longer has a seat at my table. It has been liberating and frightening at the same time, yet fear is always lurking around the corner waiting for a vulnerable moment to pounce and scare me back into submission. Well, I have to keep my dukes up, take a breath, have a self pep-talk, and continue on my way. Bye, Fear.
2.Comparison AKA The Root of All Misery
We are told and learn from a young age we have to be better than the next person in order to matter and have success. I hated this bulletin board in 1st grade because the same girl was always gloated upon for her amazing work, which was proudly displayed center stage week after week. The fastest, strongest kids were celebrated in sports, and later in high school the most attractive rose to the top of the popularity charts and made everyone else’s life a living hell. Am I saying outstanding shouldn’t be recognized and rewarded? No, I am saying it is hard not to compare yourself to others when our parents start doing it for us long before we can even speak for ourselves. I am a competitive person and like being “good” at the things I do, but have always compared myself to others far too much. I will never be tall and skinny. I will never be that super outgoing person who loves commanding the entire room (I’m an anti-socialite, thank you). One nugget I heard at a meeting made me recognize the difference between comparison and being realistic with my own life and goals: Don’t compare your insides to another person’s outsides. I set goals against myself these days and give myself time to learn and progress rather than get all mopey because I didn’t “win” right out of the gates. It’s a process, but helps keep me from spiraling down into that dangerous self-pity thinking that I’m never going to be “enough”. I compare me today to me yesterday, note my progress/weaknesses, and prepare for another day of hard work ahead in all arenas of my life.
3. Anger AKA Wasn’t That Supposed to Hurt You Not Me?
Oh, anger. We had a long run, but I am such a better person now that we’ve broken up. I used to have outbursts of anger, spew horrible words at others, break stuff, then feel like an ass for my dreadful behavior. I couldn’t stop Mt. Chelsuvius a few years ago. I would feel the rage boil up, then let it explode an incinerate whoever was in my path (sorry, still sorry). I found myself miserable a lot and wishing I had other ways to handle disappointments. I luckily found the art of practicing pause. If I feel the lava begin to flow I now stop and think of a better way to express myself, or wait awhile and say anything at all. Sometimes I take a walk or watch some Roseanne, whatever just to chill out and not make a lamentable scene of chaos. It not only feels much better, there are no broken pieces of glass or heart lying around to sweep up in the aftermath-you know, that whole “can’t take it back” business is pretty damn true. Plus, being angry was giving me wrinkles which is definitely unacceptable.
4. Resentment AKA Yea, Don’t Drink the Poison
There are many renditions of the line, “Hanging onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. This is a damn deep philosophy. I am such a jerk when it comes to creating then holding onto resentments, I can literally feel my blood start to boil thinking of certain people and situations which still piss me off even though they’ve long since passed from my life. It makes me feel gross and kind of silly that I just can’t move on fully, some things just really chap my ass I suppose. And I am working on that. Everyday. I use gratitude A LOT when I feel irritation trying to creep in, I honestly cannot feel anything but good when I practice genuine gratitude (it’s that powerful, for real). I also have to remember those people were doing the best they knew at that time, also that it was something I was supposed to experience to further my growth. I also heard to move on because the other person damn sure has, and probably did so five minutes later. All without a second thought about me (I’m not that important, remember?).
5. Ego AKA Only Acceptable On My Slow Jams Playlist
I have this weird Jekyll and Hyde ego situation in my head. Here’s the deal: one part is a huge egomaniac, the other is an insecure girl. It’s like I’m the most conceited yet insecure person at the exact same time. I have heard other people describe this, so I know I am not the only odd duck in the room. What I came to realize is the pompous side definitely gets me in more trouble than the demure; its feelings get bruised far easier. I have had to retrain my brain to have a healthy balance of self-confidence and humility, and it’s been vigorous work! I have to quiet that ego when it tries to take over, ground myself, and talk through the situation (all in my head, mind you). For timid me, I have to give a solid self-pep and remember I am good enough. Ego will keep me chasing after unimportants I may never attain all while being a grumpy poop because I don’t have them faster. And I don’t got time for that.
6. Control AKA Leave That One to Ms. Jackson, If You’re Nasty
I do not consider myself a Type A person. I am not super organized, not a planner, do not have to know exactly what is coming next. I am generally last-minute, adrenaline-fueled, and chaotically organized. However. There are certain instances where this nutty control freak comes out to take over, and I am horrified by my own behavior. The control generally rears its batty head when I am afraid of something bad happening to a loved one. It is much less these days, but previous behaviors would include manipulating situations, panicking, and becoming highly emotional and irritable. Super not fun. To live that way, or to be around. I have been enlightened to the fact that I control nobody except myself, and trying to force people is a futile act because they do what they damn-well want. Alas, I now “turn over” situations that make me uncomfortable and ask for guidance handling those instances rather than try to make it go my way. It’s a helluva lot less work watching the show than it is trying to orchestrate the entire circus.
7. Expectations AKA Well, What Did You Expect?
Expectations are a-holes. They just are. All shiny and bright on the outside, then inside is a giant, stinky turd. I have shed gallons of tears over my high (dang, sometimes even low) hopes. People, places, things- you name it, they’ve all let me down at multiple points throughout life. I speculate a large part of my former dismay was that I always had grand plans play out in my imagination, only to be crushed by someone not following through or a situation going awry thus letting me down. So there I would be, all feeling sorry for poor me while flinging venom at whoever/whatever ruined my party. Onto the lesson, and one of my favorites I may add: Expect Nothing, Enjoy Everything. I do not expect much these days; it has been rewarding and uplifting. It’s also really not fair to hinge my happiness upon other people, places, and things because, well, shit happens. I much prefer being excited and thankful for small surprises rather than being let down by my grand ideals.
I have a feeling my zen blockers are pretty similar to yours, so hopefully we can all work on our jubilation Ninjitsu and become ninjas of peace and contentment. Because in my mind, the world is in desperate need of jolly people instead of angry a-holes; we need to fight the good fight for love and unity over rage and violence.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”-John Lennon
Be Good, Do Good