A couple weeks ago I wrote how the journey to happiness is not a one-time event, how it can be a complicated, winding road of twists and turns and sometime failures that can change to sometime successes. And how it requires patience and self-forgiveness, as you continually refine your own mind and its ability to guide you to a happy life.
Tonight I would like to write about how happiness is a continuous negotiation. Because it is not a one-time event, nosiree. New situations in life keep coming up, situations that can be troublesome, confusing, or disheartening. Situations that may challenge us, may bring out our worst, or seem like insurmountable problems to us. Such thinking is an indication that we have temporarily lost the trail leading to happiness. We need to get on the hunt for it. It is there, somewhere, yet finding it can require continuous searching, digging, discussing, problem-solving, and brain-storming.
If you are find it easy to maintain your own happiness from moment to moment, then I salute you. Many of us have to continually work at it. If you are like me, then merely getting clear on what makes you happy can be touch. It is accomplished one victory at a time, and often with great effort.
When I was a younger adult, I continually suffered because I was so out of touch with my own happiness. I paid the price of being unconscious of my own desires and preferences, and so I became extremely unhappy. Things only changed when I accepted the primacy of my own personal happiness.
At first, the road to well-being seemed long and hard. It required a lot of self-examination, as well as a lot of talking with others, which helped me gain a balanced perspective. I needed to continually ask myself what was working in my life, and what was not? What brought me joy? What satisfied me? What made me happy?
The answers were sometimes a long while in coming. Yet come they did. Gradually, I shaped my life in the image of my own happiness. I became the person I wanted to be to the best of my ability. I focused on personal happiness, and so my personal happiness grew.
Yet even then, new situations arose that tested my mindset. Sometimes I made mistakes, stumbling into circumstances that temporarily increased my unhappiness. I was eager for happiness, but immature about how to maintain or grow it in the face of life’s situations. I often ran into my own self-doubt or otherwise negative attitudes. My own ego and pride got me into trouble a time or two. Sometimes I suffered through my life like a victim.
Yet I persevered in the quest for happiness. I problem-solved each situation, looking at all points of view and making choices that felt right. The biggest lessons I got were often realizing what I didn’t want. Sometimes this took months of soul searching, or late night conversations with trusted friends. But as a result of going through this process, my happiness expanded. Aha, a breakthrough! What once felt stuck and unsatisfied suddenly came to life, and new possibility awaited me.
Yet even then, other challenges continued, as a new area of my life beckoned for me to grow and mature. Happiness takes clarity, as we learn to get out of our own way and to stop doing the things that make us unhappy.
For some of us, this can take a long time to figure out!
I strongly believe that with commitment to your happiness, you can trouble-shoot every situation that comes up in your life. Every situation is an opportunity to learn something crucial about yourself, about your own preferences, likes, and dislikes. Through this sorting process, you can uncover your true nature. In the process, you will grow strong in self-knowledge, and align your daily behavior with your own truth. Thus you grow in happiness, because, just like a tree grows as it knows to grow, and just as a bird flies as it knows to fly, you live in a way that is in harmony with who you were meant to be.
And this happiness, this harmony, will have resulted from a million twists and turns, a thousand negotiated situations, where you grew wiser inch by inch about the curriculum of your own personal happiness, and slowly became its master.