Perhaps Unexpected Pathways to Happiness – Part 1

JoyOver the years supporting thousands of clients and practitioners, I have learned a great deal about what makes for a happy life.  I have had the privilege of hearing many people  who trust me express their truth.  Happiness can be a simple concept to speak of and a challenging state to attain.  Sure, there are many obvious tenets of happiness, but my curious mind is more interested in the unexpected ones.  The deeper opportunities that we often miss.  Here are some powerful pathways to happiness. Ones which might surprise and inspire you.  I’ll cover 3 here and 3 more in Part 2.

1.  Stop trying to “fix” the people you love.  They don’t need fixing.  They aren’t broken.  They are simply on a journey of discovery and healing that’s different from yours.  Even if their journey is painful for you to watch, allow them the autonomy of their own experience.  Just because you can see clearly the pitfalls they may be missing or continuing to struggle with doesn’t make you a better person or somehow more “advanced” than they are.  We can *always* see others’ gaffes and opportunities more clearly than our own.  Let people struggle and find their own solutions and heal themselves.  If they ask for help, then by all means help, if it inspires you.  But if they are clearly trying to “run themselves into a wall” in order to learn and discover their own truths, then let them have that experience.  If we hit something hard enough, we nearly always take a bounce and see our lives from a new perspective.  People you love don’t need you to fix them.  They need you to love them unconditionally.  And then they will feel optimally supported to make the choice to fix themselves.  In their own way and in their own time.

2.  Stop joking about your stress and actually DO something about it.  We have a strange cultural tenet that celebrates being stressed.  And really celebrates people being VERY stressed.  We glorify and reward it.  I used to work in a stress-obsessed corporate environment where people admired those who gave up their vacation time.  Celebrated those who worked all weekend and never took a break and lived on coffee.  Perhaps unknowingly, we often even compete with each other in conversation to see who’s the most stressed out.  We admire those whose lives are the most challenging and chaotic.  Whose choices are most overwhelming.  Who is sacrificing the most of their life in the name of shouldering burdens.  Who is the greatest “hero” for weathering and putting up with the most crap!  Wow.  That is just dumb.  Some of us are stuck.  Deep down, we actually *want* to be celebrated as being able to hold up well under a lot of stress.   Our ego loves that admiration.  But deep down, we also want to be free.  We want peace and ease.  Yes, try that word on for size for a moment:  ease.  In most arenas of our lives, we could simply make different choices.  But the choices seem hard or uncomfortable, so we label them as “impossible” and go back to glorifying our stress.  What we should be celebrating is who has the courage to make the hard choices to purposefully *change* their life in the name of more ease.  More joy.  More simplicity.  You can do this too.  No, really, you can.  And that will definitely be worth celebrating!

3.  Learn how to say No, with grace, love, and strength.  For many of us, a big part of our stress involves saying “yes” when we really want to say “no”.  We say “yes” to a favor, a cause, a choice, a request, and because that choice wasn’t in line with our truth, our heart sinks.  We cave in this way because we fear someone might see us as selfish or mean or uncaring or unsupportive.  Because we fear disappointing others or causing a confrontation or being talked about behind our backs.  But here is an inconvenient truth:  betraying yourself in an effort to not disappoint another is still betrayal.  It is not a win.  I don’t even believe it’s noble.  Have the courage to be true to yourself, while still expressing love and care of another.  Look the requester in the eye and say gently, “I so appreciate that you want my assistance in this way.  I am honored that you are giving me the opportunity to help, but I am unable to do as you ask right now.  I do wish you the very best with it.”  No apology or explanation or justification needed.  Honor your truth.  Only say “yes” when you mean “YES!!!”  and when you can do it with an eager and fully supportive heart.  Otherwise, you are just shoulding on yourself.

Take a moment to think about where you might wish to seize these opportunities to bring more authenticity and ease to your life.  Choose to live on purpose 🙂