The internet these days seems to be flooded with quotes, pictures and signs that tell us how to be and how to feel. Many of them claim that if we do what they say, our lives will be better than we can even imagine.
Lots of times we read the message and agree. “Be Kind”, “Forgive”, “Pay It Forward”. We know intuitively that life feels good when we take care of ourselves, share caring times with people, or help somebody out. But then we go right on with our day in the same old way. Feeling hurt by somebody, being angry, blaming others, plotting revenge, or generally feeling sorry for ourselves. The power of our own negative feelings is so strong that it can blot everything else out. We can be so deep into our own emotions that we lose sight of what we are feeling, and we may behave as if we have actually become our loneliness, our anger, or our pain.
There is one constant in life that we can always count on. Change. Nothing stays the same. The very nature of life is its impermanence. We all share ups and downs, positive and negative, dark and light, good and bad. There are times in life that we want to hold on to a moment of joy and happiness forever, and then other times when we feel we would give anything not to feel the dark pain that seems to shred us into little pieces. No matter how hard we hold on, things change. The sun rises and sets, the moon becomes full, the seasons revolve.
So how do we move into a more positive way of being that opens the door to happiness? How do we even begin to help ourselves feel happier and more fulfilled? How do we consistently learn to believe that we matter, that we’re important, and that we belong?
When we’re feeling really low we may believe that nothing will ever change. We may think we are stuck forever, a victim of circumstance. We might even hang on to a negative emotion or a way of being because it feels familiar and comfortable to us in its own strange way.
Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.” There is not a single person on the planet that cannot learn something from his or her past experience. It is our personal experiences that enrich our lives. Sometimes it is our most painful experience that leads us to a happier more fulfilled way of living, even though its difficult to see that at the time.
When we STOP and ask ourselves how we can make today the best possible day for ourselves, there is usually an answer, and it could be something simple. It may be something to be grateful for. It may be the feeling of the sun on your back on a cold winter day, or a chance to help somebody who needs you.
When we understand that change is constant, and that each little step we take today influences change, then we can have hope for tomorrow.
To help ourselves, one of the first things we can do is stop and accept the way we are feeling. Let go of our judgments. Don’t criticize. Don’t beat ourselves up over past mistakes. If life seems overwhelming or like it’s moving too fast, sometimes the best thing to do is just stop. Do nothing. Let ourselves be still.
Being still can allow us to acknowledge our emotions, own them, and know that pain and sorrow are as much a part of life as health and happiness. It’s part of being human. Taking time to stop and LOOK at how we feel, and observing ourselves, can open a door to better understanding.
Ask yourself if you can look at how you are feeling without blaming yourself or blaming others. This might be harder than it seems. How often do we blame ourselves and tell ourselves that we aren’t deserving, or we aren’t loveable, or we’re stupid? We hear the messages that we’ve collected since we were born, and they run pretty deep.
How many times have we blamed someone else for how we feel? If you’re feeling angry, blaming, or resentful, take a look inside and ask yourself who is suffering the most because of these feelings you’re holding on to. Chances are, it’s you. So don’t judge, just look and be aware. Don’t plan to act, don’t let yourself start criticizing, just watch. As humans there are two important ways in which we all learn. One is by watching others, the other is by watching our selves.
Know that accepting responsibility for how you are feeling can be pretty powerful. In its own way, accepting responsibility for our selves, without blame, can feel pretty awesome. It’s amazing to understand that if we accept our own feelings and actions, we can influence our lives and begin to create the life that we want.
As humans we all make mistakes. Making mistakes can be an opportunity to learn and grow. The important thing is to stop and look, and then decide how we are going to move on.
Today, decide one thing that you can do for yourself that will get you closer to feeling consistently happier. What is one thing that you can do that will support the feeling that you are creating your own life right now? LISTEN to yourself. Can you show kindness, smile at someone, be helpful, or allow yourself a minute to take a deep breath?
We can get so far off the track that we may discover we don’t even know what might really make us happy. We may not even realize that we have forgotten about the things that feel really good to us, that make us feel good about ourselves, or comfortable with whomever we are. So listen to yourself. Don’t expect answers to flood in right away. Just keep listening and choose one thing.
One thing, leads to two things, leads to Three Things. Stop, look, and listen. You matter, you are important, and you belong.