Monday, August 12, 2013

Be Happy

As I sit here on my bed contemplating the documentary, Happy, I just watched, I wonder how I am going to express to each of you what it means to be happy to me.  Its difficult for me to explain to someone how unhappy I was for so long.  It almost seems like a different lifetime.  I try to think of the REASON I was depressed, and I can bring up different scenarios that I viewed as negative and depressing.  The truth is, those things are still there, in my past.  I still can feel them, hear them, and remember them, but no longer do they make me sad or depressed.  I didn't change my life, I didn't change my past, I just changed my focus.

For example, there was a time in my life where I was depressed about the passing of a very important person to me.  I let her death make me bitter and angry, because I was sad that I didn't have her anymore.  I cried for her so many times that I lost count.  She was more than family, she was one of my best friends, and we talked for hours.  She passed right around the time of a huge change in my life, and I was upset that I didn't have her support or guidance anymore.  For years I let my grief manifest into other feelings such as disappointment, anger, and sorrow.  I was not living my own life, I was craving the days when she was still with me.  Because I had been happy with her around, I didn't think it would be possible to be happy without her around.

As time went on, my depression became a personality of its own.  I stopped enjoying any aspect of life.  Whats sad is that this was also during a big time for me.  I had a baby, I got married, and my husband and I had a life we were trying to start, but I was so consumed in this negative mindset that I didn't enjoy anything around me.  I found every possible "bad" experience and I held onto it.  I consumed every negative emotion that was pushed my way.  I reached back into my childhood to things that I wasn't depressed about at the time and I created a whole new memory based on my new demeanor.  I effectively changed my whole consciousness to be focused on the "BAD" things that I believed were happening to me.

As I write this, its like I am talking about a different person.  Back then, in my deepest darkness, I was completely unable to see how miserable a life it was.  I had my family telling me that I wasn't pleasant to be around, and a husband who was on the edge of running because I was never kind, but I didn't recognize it.  I really thought they were all wrong, and that I was the realistic one.  I was the only person who saw how bad things were, and they were pretending that everything was okay.

Then I woke up.  I can't tell you the exact moment that it happened, because it was a process, but there was a moment that I realized that everyone around me was dealing with the same LIFE I was, but I was the only one that was foreboding.  I was so consumed in what horrible things were going on, that I completely lost sight of the wonderful parts of my life.  I couldn't change the fact that my loved one was gone, but I could embrace those hours sitting on her bed watching daytime soaps, and have faith that one day we would be together again.  I couldn't change my situation, but I could be grateful for it.  I had a husband who loved me unconditionally, two beautiful happy daughters who saw nothing but joy in life, a close knit family that I LOVE being around, and amazing friends who I could sit and talk to for hours and not even realize the time had passed.  I had nothing to be depressed about anymore, because my mind was focused on all of the beauty around me and no longer on the things that I couldn't control.

In watching the documentary Happy*, I realized that the happiest people in the world are the people who focus their lives on compassion, love, and kindness.  The happiest people have intrinsic goals focused on bettering themselves spiritually, and working towards their personal growth.   The least happy people are those who focus on extrinsic goals and focus their lives on reaching materialistic or financial goals.  More money and success doesn't increase your happiness, and until you change your perspective it never will.  You'll always want more.

I don't know if my parents taught me this on purpose, but throughout my life I've learned that the most important lesson we can teach our children is to never harm anyone physically, spiritually, or financially.  Always live in kindness and compassion, even when others don't.  The happiest people are those that do good for each other, even in times of desperation.  We as humans are not meant to be competitive, but to be cooperative.  We are meant to work TOGETHER, not against each other.

If you want to be happy, I challenge you to do these three things every day for one week, and I promise you will be a happier person.
1. Practice compassion for all living beings.  Do no harm physically, spiritually (emotionally), or financially.
2. Be grateful for all that you have.  Count your blessings at the end of each day, and let go of all of the things that didn't bring you joy.
3.  Do something that you love.  Be playful at least once a day.  Laugh, joke, and smile.  Let go of any discomfort in the efforts, and really really enjoy something.

I wish you the best in improving your life, from this moment on.  Remember that all it takes is a shift in focus.

Peace, Love, and Happiness.
Lauren
The Happiest Woman Alive

*I watched this documentary on Netflix on instant stream, but you can also rent it from the website.  http://www.thehappymovie.com/film/