It Takes Courage to Be Happy
One day, when I was in my mid-20s, my insightful boss/mentor turned to me and said, “Are you happy?”
I was surprised by the question because it seemed out of place. My answer was vague and rambling and my mind was caught off guard. At that time, I was diligently working on my commitment to master the leadership job that I was hired to do.
Honestly, I thought, “Happy? What does happy have to do with anything?”
That question, and my answer to it, has become a pivotal reality test that I use to assess my personal sanity and emotional health.
If I am operating from the position that life is a problem to be solved, I will only be present and fully engaged when I have a problem, someone else has a problem, or when my business or family or the world has a problem. The weather will be a problem, earning a living will be problematic, and the topic of all my conversations will be devoted to describing, discussing and dissecting whatever problem currently has my attention.
Some of the obvious drawbacks to this point of view are that we become tethered to the never-ending treadmill of mental stress, strain and overwork. We become overwhelmed by our daily responsibilities accomplished to the tune of “life is hard and then we die.”
Our emotional range is severely limited to varying degrees of fear that we won’t be able to solve the problems or anger and frustration that we have, to stand up to another crisis.
When we approach life as a reality to be experienced instead of a problem to be solved, we add a wide lens to our way of seeing. We allow the presence of our emotions, whether happy, content, sad, fearful, angry, disappointed or vacant, to inform our responses to whatever is currently happening in our lives.
From this point of view, whatever is, is. There is nothing to fix or figure out. Life comes to us and we to it, as an unfolding interaction that is happening moment by moment.
Before you dismiss this notion as simply an immature evasion of the facts, hold on and listen up.
We all want to be happy, healthy, safe, secure, loved and satisfied with our contributions. We all have experienced unhappiness, varying degrees of sickness, insecurity, feeling unsafe, overwhelmed, neglected, rejected and devalued. Given the choice, we would all choose happy.
The “life is a problem to be solved” approach acknowledges that many experiences that come our way don’t feel good. They don’t bring happiness. Therefore, we must confront, wrestle with, shape and form a workable environment. This is part of reality. It just isn’t all of it.
When we embrace the courage to be happy despite the heart hurts and challenges we encounter, we give ourselves permission let go of being victimized by our responsibilities and can open to life as a multifaceted reality to be experienced. We allow in some softness, support, excitement and lightness so that life doesn’t always have to be the bad guy.
Life is both a problem to be solved and a reality to be experienced. How we see it depends on our state of mind and the degree that we are able to be honest with ourselves.
Life mastery comes from our ability to acknowledge and own our feelings and be flexible enough to know when to stand up, when to surrender, when to drop back and let go, and when to dance.
When we are honest about our true motives and become visible to ourselves, we open to the opportunity to be courageously happy with a life that is fierce with reality.
Susan is a local author who writes and produces personal development workshops. Reach her at beyondintellect.com.