I’m so happy you’ve decided to read my much overdue chapter: The Fear of Happiness.
The reason this chapter has taken so long to transpire was due to the fact that throughout my research, meetings, encounters, and thoughts, I was bombarded by so many different life situations brought to me vicariously through others.
Happiness is something all of us want. Some of us think having millions of dollars will make us happy. Some of us think having a significant other will make us happy. Some of us think having the perfect body will make us happy. As you can tell, this list can go on and on. Those things make it seem as if when we acquire those things, happiness will suddenly manifest and voila! It’s happening. We are what we’ve always wanted to be: happy.
Isn’t it funny how we associate ‘happiness’, something elusive and intangible, to things that are solid and in reach? Money, a person, our physical imperfections? And why is that? Because we need external validation or others to value us because we have certain ‘things’?
Is this what begets happiness? I hope you read something that impacts you.
I am not free because I am happy. I am happy because I am free.
fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
fear of happiness: an attitude towards happiness in which individuals may deliberately avoid experiences that invoke positive emotions or happiness. (thanks Google)
This is an actual condition called cherophoia. Now, I’m not here to tell you what you do and don’t have – that’s your call…or your doctor’s? While this condition is severe in some cases, I’m not here to diagnose you.
With the FEAR: I’m not where I want to be. I should’ve had millions by now. Why am I not in Los Angeles? Why am I not in New York? Why don’t I make 6+ Figures? I have no one to love. I don’t know why I’m not living in a mansion and drive a hundred-thousand dollar sports car. I feel trapped. I feel like no one knows who I am; I don’t know who I am. I am lost.
THE FEAR is a whole lot of feeling bad for yourself. EVERYONE goes through those thoughts at some time in their life or another. You are not alone, but the difference between the people who live in the fear and the people who conquer it? They realize this: the world owes them nothing. They are happy.
Without the FEAR: I am awake. I am whole. I can see, I am able to breathe. I can walk and run, talk and laugh. I have a parent(s) who love me. I have a friend(s) who care and love me for who I am. Today, I spread the love. Today, there is a new beginning. Today, my soul is cleansed.
Isn’t it crazy how WITH THE FEAR we manifest and expect bad things to happen? The fear does not motivate. It consumes. It does not say go. It says stop. The fear? It freezes you in unhappiness. And when bad things happen? How can we not be surprised? WE MANIFESTED IT.
If happiness is a weird concept or something you don’t see often, you are not looking in the right places. Matter of fact: wake up, go outside, and lookup – whether blue skies or stormy clouds – be happy, because you are BREATHING.
“When we are grateful, fear disappears and faith appears.” – John C. Maxwell
The Meaning of Life
"Empowering others is empowering you. Loving others is loving you. Hurting others is hurting you... it's just how connection works." - The Fresh Jo
There are many of us who sit and ponder the meaning of life and others don’t even think about it, and there are many theories about the ‘meaning of life’ – could it be just to live?
The reason so many people are unhappy is that their focus isn’t balanced between themselves and the outside world. The problem lies in that people are too focused on themselves or their external environment or their perspective of the relationship between the two.
There is a difference between seeking validation from an external environment and changing yourself accordingly than observing and learning from your external environment and applying the lessons you learn from others to your life.
Validation : the action of checking or proving the validity or accuracy of something.
Are you seeking validation from others or are you seeking validation from yourself? If it’s the first option, happiness will always seem lightyears away. The truth is, none of know what others think, even if they tell us what they think! We cannot control the thoughts of others; we can only live our lives based on what we think is best.
That STILL isn’t the meaning of life though.
In 1879, the preservationist and explorer John Muir took his first trip to Alaska. As he explored the fjords and rocky landscapes of Alaska’s now famous Glacier Bay, a powerful feeling struck him all at once. He’d always been in love with nature, and here in the unique summer climate of the far north, in this single moment, it was as if the entire world was in sync. As if he could see the entire ecosystem and circle of life before him. His pulse began to pick up, and he and the group were “warmed and quickened into sympathy with everything, taken back into the heart of nature” from which we all came. Thankfully, Muir noticed and recorded in his journal the beautiful cohesion of the world around him, which few have ever matched since.
We feel the life and motion about us, and the universal beauty: the tides marching back and forth with weariless industry, laving the beautiful shores, and swaying the purple dulse of the broad meadows of the sea where the fishes are fed, the wild streams in rows white with waterfalls, ever in bloom and ever in song, spreading their branches over a thousand mountains; the vast forests feeding on the drenching sunbeams, every cell in a whirl of enjoyment; misty flocks of insects stirring all the air, the wild sheep and goats on the grassy ridges above the woods, bears in the berry-tangles, mink and beaver and otter far back on many a river and lake; Indians and adventurers pursuing their lonely ways; birds tending to their young—everywhere, everywhere, beauty and life, and glad, rejoicing action.
In this moment, he was experiencing what the Stoics would call sympatheia—a connectedness with the cosmos. The French philosopher Pierre Hadot has referred to it as the “oceanic feeling.” A sense of belonging to something larger, of realizing that “human things are an infinitesimal point in the immensity.” It is in these moments that we’re not only free but drawn toward important questions: Who am I? What am I doing? What is my role in this world?”
Excerpt From: Ryan Holiday. “Ego Is the Enemy.” iBooks.
The meaning of life is:
- Connecting: letting others know you are ME and I AM you. Letting them know we are all ONE. Unity.
- Sharing the love: Love knows no bounds. In the words of Will Smith, “Love is when you’re committed to helping somebody with their life – helping them to suffer less, helping them to manage their minds and their emotions. When you love somebody you want them to feel good. You want them to be happy and you want to see them succeed.” We should feel like this about everyone. This shouldn’t be biased to our lover, our parents, or friends – we should be willing to love everyone, even the ones who don’t love us back. We are not supposed to do and operate for our sake, we operate for the sake of loving others as we love ourselves.
- Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the absence of pride and ego. If you are not able to put these aside, you will not be able to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t make sense. You don’t do forgiveness. You BE forgiveness. He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her. We all make mistakes, we must all be forgiveness.
First, Compassion – Then, Love.
Gary V. said it best:
“People need to develop compassion. They need to go to Africa and walk seven miles in the morning to get water and seven miles back. If you knew what the fuck people went through, you’d hesitate a lot more to complain about your stupid Starbucks order.”
- a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Yeah, I’ll hit you with the momma joke, “There are starving kids in Africa.” What about the women who are still fighting for rights in middle eastern countries? Men, women, and children who are paralyzed? Have brain damage? Have to breathe through a machine? Who can’t walk? Who can’t see or hear? Who have been through things so traumatic they are stuck in a mental state only doctors and therapists can help them with over time?
But here we are – complaining about heartbreak, complaining about not having the latest iPhone, or we’re mad because our drive through orders are wrong.
The way we find happiness is in small victories and small things and remaining humble and just all the while, acting out of altruism and not selfishness. It’s paying attention to the things that don’t necessarily make you feel good, but the things that make life worth living, about making others feel good.
Wait It Out
Because we are products of our environment, whatever we see or whatever we are around is what will be instilled in our soul. Seeing things makes us want things we never thought we’d want. We watch a Nike campaign and we want to be the next Serena Williams or be a Nike ambassador. We see makeup on someone, and the next thing we know, it’s in our Sephora cart ready to go! We see two people walking down the street laughing, kissing, and holding hands and we want it! We want the supposed relationship we are witnessing.
There is nothing wrong with these desires. My point is that we are affected by everything and that in order to get the very very best out of every situation and every person – wait it out.
We are often fueled by emotions. For example, when I’m in TJ Maxx, I go to the beauty section and begin throwing them in the basket.
This is so pretty. OMG I can use this for my hair! This eyeliner is EVERYTHING.
About twenty minutes pass, I look in my cart and my thoughts have changed.
I actually have something similar to this. If I buy this for my hair, I’ll never use it. I have five billion eyeliners.
Aesthetics GRIP us! Want to lose weight? Stop eating so much at once and WAIT IT OUT. You’re probably full and don’t even know it. Want to know someone’s true colors? WAIT IT OUT. Want to get what you want? Ask at the right time – WAIT IT OUT. Before making that phone call…WAIT IT OUT.
Stanford researchers presented preschoolers with a sugary or salty snack . Sometimes the kids were placed in front of a marshmallow; other times it was a different food, like a pretzel or cookie. Then, the children were told they’d get an additional reward if they could wait 15 or 20 minutes before eating their snack. If they held off, they would get two yummy treats instead of one.
Researchers then traced some of the young study participants through high school and into adulthood. They discovered that a kid’s ability to resist the immediate gratification of a marshmallow tended to correlate with beneficial outcomes later, including higher SAT scores, better emotional coping skills, less cocaine use, and healthier weights.
Life is not about instant gratification. Anything that takes time will always be more appreciated and more valued. It is the way us humans work! We love feeling as though we ACHIEVED something and WORKED TOWARD A GOAL.
It was Ester Hicks who said:
“There is no desire that anyone holds for any other reason than that they believe they will feel better in the achievement of it. Whether it is a material object, a physical state of being, a relationship, a condition, or a circumstance – at the heart of every desire is the desire to feel good. And so, the standard of success in life is not the things or the money – the standard of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”
REDEFINING YOUR (UN)HAPPINESS
- Wait 20 Minutes before acting on emotions – after twenty minutes, you are just overthinking. Emotions cloud judgement.
- Tell YOURSELF the TRUTH – lie to your friends and family (not really), but DO NOT lie to yourself. If you are able to tell yourself the truth, you will avoid hurting yourself and hurting others.
- CHOOSE HAPPINESS – happiness is a choice.
- Be nice to yourself. – How would you treat a great friend if they were telling you what you were thinking (i.e. negative thoughts), how would you console them?
- Form new habits – Replace negative thinking or negative habits with positive thinking and positive habits.