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March 15, 2022 4 Comments
Written by Don Jessop
Not a horse blog, well... maybe it is.
Happiness can be elusive and fleeting. It doesn't seem to last for anyone, but it does seem to return eventually, for everyone, given enough patience and time.
What I've found over my years of study and reflection, even though I'm no therapist (although I did study to become to a hypnotherapist), is that happiness takes different forms and that is perhaps the biggest reason it's so elusive.
Here are a few of those forms:
1. A peaceful sense of relief - A feeling of a release from pressures. The kind you get as you take that deep breath before you drift to sleep or as you realize you don't have any payments left on your car. It could be a sense of acceptance, that all is going to be good in the world, and you're okay, and a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, at least for now. Simply put... a deep sigh of relief.
2. Excited for the future - A feeling of positive anticipation. The kind you get when you daydream of the planned trip to the island getaway or when you see the new horse you've been dreaming of just become available to buy and you can afford it. Basically... any relative feeling of anticipation for something good to come.
3. Proud of accomplishment - A feeling you get when you finish a big task or nostalgically remember achieving things you, and perhaps others, didn't think you could do. Like building a house, or starting a business, or getting married and having kids. Simply put... you feel you did good job.
4. Grateful for gifts you're not sure you deserve - A feeling of believing you're blessed. The kind you get when you realize you didn't create you, your mother did, but she didn't create herself and you can see where that goes. The kind of feeling you get when you narrowly dodge an illness or accident or when you see you've got enough, and maybe even more than your neighbor. (HINT. You do have more than most of your neighbors.) It's more than relief, it's feeling special, that everything is a gift and for some reason you get to receive the gift. It's perspective on how things could have turned out, and instead, you're the lucky one.
5. Organic chemical joy kind of happiness - a feeling you get for no reason at all. You might just have gas bubbles making you smile. Or for some reason, all the pain in your body is gone, or the air smells better, or the problems don't matter anymore. Adrenalin junkies look for that kind of happiness and find it in those short, edge of your life experiences. In this case, circumstances are causing your chemistry to lift, like contagious laughter at a comic club. Five minutes later you might feel differently, but in the moment it's a taste of heaven. Simply put... It's an organic sensation triggered by some type of nearly uncontrollable stimuli.
The question is... when someone asks, "How can I be more happy?" Which type of happiness is it that you feel like you need right now? What are you seeking? If you knew, you might find it easier. Like looking for a shoe in the closet, knowing which shoe helps.
These five types of happiness often mix too. It's no wonder something like having a baby is so amazing. You feel relief, gratitude, chemistry, pride, and nine months of building excitement. It's a euphoric experience.
But before you start stacking the happiness types to feel happier, it's best to prioritize them for conscious change.
Imagine not feeling happy. Can you imagine that? I can! Then imagine thinking you need some happiness, so you go out looking for excitement. The external stimulus kind. Let's say you find it, then you return home and you're still not happy. Why not? Because that was the wrong shoe, the wrong kind of happiness. That means it's time to dive deeper into yourself. Find out what's missing? Is your chemistry off? Could you change it with breathing, meditation, or professional (not amateur) support? Are you stuck in a fearful place? Did you know that fear and gratitude can't exist in the same mental space? Are you feeling bored or unimportant and perhaps taking on a big challenge would fill that gap, at least once you're done and proud of it? Or are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, burdened by internal and external pressure? In that case you need relief? You need a win, a breakthrough, perhaps some education and a supporting hand. What you don't need is to go skydiving or giving into vices. Not to say those things aren't valuable for there own reasons, just that there could be better, more sustainable things for you based on your immediate needs.
I'm no therapist so I can't actually say what you need. I only like to play with words and lean into my own experiences, analyzing my needs and sharing my thoughts. Perhaps you enjoy that kind of processing too.
Now let's re-evaluate stacking the five forms of happiness. What activities make the biggest dent? We mentioned having babies but that's not for everyone and it can't happen very often. How about doing something challenging for the first time? Like jumping horseback or learning a new language, these types of things stack pride and relief and some forms of anticipation and gratitude all in one place. There are so many possibilities to be happy, it's a wonder we aren't happier more often.
Also, on the subject of happiness, there are other concepts like affirmations, posture, breathing, supporting friends, habit training, practiced focus shifting, multiple types of therapy and more. I don't want to limit your thinking about how to experience true happiness and keep it around longer. I'm just excited to share my own musings.
I'd love to hear how you explore the psychology of happiness. Tell me how you've noticed and shifted things to make room for happiness. Tell me some activities or supporting behaviors I haven't mentioned that combine the above five elements into a more lasting type of happiness. Have some fun. Have some hope. Have some good vibes for the future. I know life can be hard. I know it first hand. But for a moment or two, help me shift the focus. Comment below. I love reading your thoughts.
And.. if you're a horse person wondering why I didn't talk more about horses, I'll leave you with this... What do you bring to your horse when you meet him or her? Do you bring your pain and sadness in hopes of healing, that's okay! Horses can be good for that kind of thing. And... Could you also bring your joy? Imagine a horse filled up from time to time with your joy! How cool would that be?
Thanks for reading, comment below!
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