It is possible to live authentically and be happy!
Do you know enough about building happiness?
Positive psychology is about building on strengths and virtues, but you may well ask how you can build something substantial when your foundations are rocky – when you know you carry trauma from the past. You may not even believe that you are entitled to positive feelings, because up to now they have evaded you and your defense mechanisms have become thick walls around you. Living in fear at a subconscious level that whenever someone triggers you, these walls may begin to crumble, will create chronic stress. You may try avoiding and even denying these triggers, because they leave you feeling vulnerable, turning to other shortcuts for quick relief. Is it the chocolate, shopping, sex, alcohol, and cigarettes amongst other, that brings you to the brink of joy, rapture, and comfort, or are they short lived? What about the scripts you follow, telling yourself stories about others, your feelings, and emotions – those mind-blowing games where you convince yourself that all the emptiness that you are experiencing is quite adequate, because that’s the reality of life?
According to Martin Seligman (2017), all emotions have a feeling, sensory, thinking and action component. Positive emotions broaden intellectual, physical, and social resources; they expand creativity, experience and thought processes. Life becomes more generous, tolerant, energetic and health improves, bringing vitality and productivity. It isn’t, however, possible to always have positive emotions but it is important to have a mind set that includes faith, trust, confidence, hope, and optimism. It all comes down to an inner belief, a conviction that nothing is permanent and that despite the trauma and hardship faced, life can be rich in meaning, rather than challenging and hard. Moving away from the binaries of good, bad, difficult, easy, and so on, it is important to focus on the capacity held within, in terms of potential, to build new skills with intention. To recognize that everything that we face has a potential learning lesson within it and to recognize and work towards fully embodying the understanding that you are worthy of happiness.
To understand depth requires opening to experiencing life, learning through experiences, and transforming the way in which you perceive life. Modifying thought gives the brain the ability to reorganize or grow neural networks as the brain never stops changing in response to learning. So, close your eyes for a moment after you finish reading this article, breathe deeply and practice gratifying thoughts that you are alive and full of potential. Say thank you and do not forget that you are unique and wonderful. Work with your strengths and virtues, setting short term goals and above all, believe that you deserve to be happy. Above all accept how you feel and honor your inner being with compassion.
Chen Q, Yang H, Rooks B, et al. Autonomic flexibility reflects learning and associated neuroplasticity in old age. Human Brain Mapping. 2020;41(13):3608-19. doi:10.1002/hbn.25034
Seligman, M. (2017). Authentic Happiness. Great Britain. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.