How to Get Happy and Stay Happy
I am a die-hard Steelers fan.
And just last week we were kicking some major butt in a game. Everything was clicking. Weak spots looked strong. We couldn’t do anything wrong. It was one of those kinds of games. And we were winning HANDILY.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But I sat on my couch, wringing my hands and fretting anyway, thinking things like:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
→ It’s not over yet, anything could happen.
→ There’s no way we are actually this good; it’s just luck.
→ When is the other shoe gonna drop? Who is gonna get hurt?
→ I bet this will be the peak of our season.
As I sat there totally NOT reveling in the victory, my boyfriend came in and said, “I thought you were a Steelers fan? You’re not happy? Why don’t you relax and enjoy it?”⠀⠀⠀
I realized in that moment that I had been doing this ALL WEEK leading up to the game: inventing all of the things that could go wrong, preparing myself for the worst so that I wouldn’t be disappointed on game day if things didn’t go my way.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And if I am not careful, I do this in most areas of my life, too.
Even in yoga—a practice that I love because it just deeply connects me to ME—I often tell myself that I don’t have the body type or the flexibility or long enough arms or whatever to do the poses that I want to do.
I don’t see myself doing the poses; I argue for my limitations so that I won’t be disappointed when I find that I cannot do them.
Where in your life are you arguing for your limitations or preparing yourself for the worst?⠀⠀⠀
Don’t feel bad about it, it is actually a biological response.
Our bodies are so programmed for survival, so wired to avoid pain that we inflict it upon ourselves so that it won’t hurt as bad when it comes from an external source.⠀⠀
We “what if” ourselves to death, plan for every possible worst-case scenario, and don’t even let ourselves imagine the best-case scenario.
And then when a best-case scenario actually happens we minimize it, diminish it, give a shout of glee and then move on to fretting about the next thing.⠀
It has gotten to the point that our nervous systems are so comfortable with stress, busyness, and anxiety that we don’t know how to sit in joy because our bodies see joy as unsafe.
Think about the last time you had really good news or something to celebrate. How long did you actually feel it?
I remember even on vacations as a kid having the “back to reality” countdown: “Only 3 more days of vacation left.”
We can literally find a way to throw a wet rag over anything.
It’s not our fault because we have been taught from a young age not to get too big for our britches, not to rub things in, not to get our hopes up, that if something feels too good to be true then it probably is. We are SO well prepped for smallness and disappointment, and yet we are also told to keep setting goals and working hard and striving and accomplishing.
But if we aren’t allowing ourselves to feel joy, then what is it for?
That is why we turn to food or wine or Netflix for a quick hit of something, because a quick hit is all that we feel capable of receiving.
So how do we stop this? What is the solution?
We have to make joy safe again.
A good place to start is with a simple, 5-minute practice every day of calling in joy:
It is a matter of imagining something, somewhere or someone that brings you joy, fully feeling into that emotion and letting it permeate your body. Send that feeling of joy to every nook and cranny of your body and hold it there. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. If you feel it fading, refocus your intention, or think of a goal or a wish that excites you to focus on. The idea is that you hold the sensation of joy and happiness in your body consciously and frequently to begin normalizing it and making it feel safe for your system again.
You don’t have to carve out a special time to do this, though you can if you want to. You can do it in the car, in a waiting room, at your desk or even during a commercial break on TV.
And the next time you organically have a feeling of joy, or happiness, or celebration, or excitement… lean in. Marinate in it. Milk it.
You deserve it.
There are a couple of practices that I do with all of my clients to help them to lean into the BEST case scenario instead of the worst, and to hold onto that happiness for longer.
If you are constantly preparing yourself for the worst, set up a time for us to chat to see how I can support you.