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A Happiness Technique For When Feeling Happy Is Really Hard

Happiness is a muscle we have to work - not a gift someone gives us.

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that plan A isn’t always an option.

And for many of us, plans B and C have been turned upside down, too. We’re certainly learning resilience.

It can feel frustrating when we want nothing more than to experience ease and joy, but life keeps throwing curveballs filled with uncertainty or disappointment.

“Why does it have to be so hard?”

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“I just want to feel happy.”

If you’re feeling unsettled right now, try this calming meditation from our co-host, Melli O’Brien.

Melli O'Brien

Calm Gratitude

Meditation · 15 mins

Most goals are challenging at first because we don't have the neural infrastructure (thought patterns and belief systems) to support them yet. Our brains haven’t adjusted to the new way of thinking and behaving, so no matter how much we want the new behavior, our brains are actually quite resistant. At first.

For example, you might make swift progress toward your goal, but then plateau. Or maybe you’ll see no progress for quite a while and then suddenly experience a surge of momentum, followed by three steps backwards. This is a very common change pattern, so please be compassionate with yourself.

I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.

—Oprah Winfrey

Change takes time. Be patient with your process.

If you’re encountering the awkward bumps that tend to emerge at the start of any change process, you might feel irritation or even a deep sadness.

In those moments, try asking yourself, “What would a happy person say or do?”

Initially, this might feel slightly uncomfortable or completely insincere. Be with that, and keep reflecting on the question. Try to imagine a time when you were happy, and then bring that energy into this moment. Or visualize a deeply happy person and then consider how they would respond, if they were faced with the situation you’re in.

Many of us have learned to focus on what’s wrong in the world around us, and while there can be value in this, overly fixating on the negative is a guaranteed path away from happiness. Because actively cultivating happiness contradicts most people’s conditioning, it will probably be quite challenging to start. That’s understandable.

Happiness is a muscle we have to work - not a gift someone gives us.

As you continue to approach the question with curiosity and a strong intention to find an honest and supportive answer, you’ll start to reshape your brain’s infrastructure and create new neural pathways for your happiness habit.

Practice this, this week. The next time you feel challenging emotions bubble up, first, remind yourself, “These feelings are showing me something. It’s okay to feel this.” and then ask yourself, “How would a happy person think and act in this situation?” Notice what happens.

Build Your Mental Health Toolkit

Cory Muscara

Find Your Happy Place

Meditation · 5 mins

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