6 Ways You're Getting In The Way Of Your Happiness

by Brianna Wiest

Happiness isn't what you have, or what happens, it's just how you perceive it. I know, I know, the cliché is so stale, but that's largely because it's true, and we know it's true, and yet we can't quite seem to reach that understanding on our own. Alternatively, what I think we can all see and understand more clearly is that while your happiness is your choice, so is your suffering. We're more familiar with our pain than we are our happiness, which is a sad but honest reality. Anyway, the point is that we're creating our experiences, and if we're not creating happiness, we're most likely facilitating the opposite by default. (Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, you know how the saying goes.) We are all our own worst enemies at times, and turning that ship around is simply realizing that we were navigating it all along.

You choose your perception. You choose how you think. You choose what you focus on. You choose to get help if the choice doesn't seem like yours anymore. You choose to keep trying. These are the tiny ways that add up to you choosing your happiness. And because it is your choice, it is also only you standing in the way of it in the first place. There are so many things that encompass a life truly well lived, and yet only one that can navigate it: you.

You Don't Realize You Can Choose What You Think About

You've been functioning on auto-pilot for so long, you've always let your thoughts be chosen for you: by parents who taught you, society who imprinted ideas in you, bullies who made you fear voices louder than your real ones. All these things create your inner narrative, but only you have the power to dismantle it and choose again.

How to stop: Practice. Practice, practice, practice. Have a thought, observe it objectively; have a feeling, process what it means to show you, then choose again. You are actually in control of very little. How you see and what you think about, you are.

You're Confusing "Happiness" With "Joy"

Joy is the ecstatic feeling that we usually associate with happiness, but they are very different. Happiness is peacefulness. It's meaning. It's allowing yourself to feel whatever comes up, and to process it, so it doesn't control you. It's choosing a life that means something. It's not being a victim, or worse, a lazy victim, who believes the picture has been painted for them.

How to stop: Focus on the subtle, consistent happiness of feeling at peace. Let go of needing joy, which keeps you chasing a high. Differentiate the two. Make your goals based on the former.

You've Yet To Differentiate How You Actually Feel From How You Were Taught To Feel

Social/cultural conditioning influences how we think, sure, but what people don't realize is that our thinking often creates how we feel. You are constructing your life based on how you think things "should" go. You're following what you were taught the trajectory consists of, indefinitely.

How to stop: Evaluate your feelings and thoughts, trace them to their origins, decide if the roots are a genuine part of who you are, or if they are born of a fear, or what you were taught. Adjust your beliefs accordingly.

You're Confusing Love For Hormones

Love is not an ecstatic madness, its being completely at peace, finally in place with yourself. If you are experiencing anything other than that complete peace, you are experiencing something other than true, whole, complete love.

How to stop: Let go of the idea of a "type." Let go of the idea that love will do anything but enhance the life you already have. Get to know yourself — not an idea of yourself, not your mind's concept of who you are — but that deep down, soul feeling. Learn to recognize what gives it a sense of loving peacefulness. Wait until you meet someone with whom that is also there.

You Are Incapable Of Being Objective

If someone told you that a study showed that X is true, yet your very tiny scope of personal experience proved the opposite, Y, to be'd think that Y is universally true, because it's all you know. People who are incapable of listening and thinking without attaching the idea of "I" to it will never actually grow — not without a lot of suffering in between. Why? Because until you can see yourself as an objective being, one who is not the summation of thoughts and feelings, but the being who observes and experiences them, you'll always be at the whim of them, or even victim to them.

How to stop: Address the monsters in the closet, the ones that you fear will be unleashed if you acknowledge someone else's truth as equally valid.

You're Creating Problems Under The Belief That You Must Suffer For A Good Life

Suffering is what happens when you're attached to an outcome. Before you realize that you don't need to suffer to have what you want. Before you feel worthy of having those things without having to hurt for them first. It is not necessary, not unless you choose for it to be.

How to stop: Let things be effortless. Allow your peace to creep up on you, and don't push it away. Stop letting yourself be controlled by fear. You choose that. Running over your worries a few more times, or thinking them out to their conclusions, won't prevent them from happening or make them easier if they do. It will only rob you of the only happiness you really have: right now.

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