Like a lion placed in a paper cage, human beings are generally most trapped by the illusions of their own mind. Dr Stephen Hayes
There are several beliefs that have permeated our consciousness which influence our thoughts on happiness. See what you think about these…
Happiness Is The Natural State For All Human Beings
We’re not naturally happy. All we are naturally is human, and being human involves a range of emotion; sadness, anger, disgust, joy and fear. The only reason we’ve become focused on achieving happiness is because that is the norm our society has set. This would be fine if happiness was an achievable natural state, but it’s simply not possible.
Whilst we can strive for fulfillment, for contentment, without the capacity to feel other feelings, we simply wouldn’t be human.
If You’re Not Happy, You’re Defective
In our plight to be happy, when we see others around us who are less so, it can be tempting to shy away, or say things like ‘cheer up,’ or ‘just get on with it.’ When we notice it in ourselves, it can be overwhelming to think that maybe something is wrong with us if everyone else around us looks happy. It can be tempting to busy yourself so much you don’t have time to think about the fact you’re not happy or self medicate so that when you’re not busy you don’t need to think at all.
To Create a Better Life, We Must Get Rid Of Negative Feelings
Patients will commonly come to counselling saying they ‘just want to feel better’ or ‘if I can just get rid of this depression/anxiety/feeling.’
The unfortunate reality is you cannot get rid of feelings. Trying to get rid of feelings is like asking it to stop raining: they come anyway. Feelings are often valuable signals telling us something about ourselves. When we allow ourselves enough time to listen to them, and also to allow them to be there, we can prevent the often negative impact of trying to suppress them.
You Should Be Able To Control What You Think And Feel
Our idea of being able to control what we think and feel is actually just an illusion. Quite like we can’t get rid of our negative feelings, we also cannot control when they come, we naturally feel sad in response to something sad happening like losing a close relationship, we naturally feel angry when wrong is done to us. Sometimes we might wake up feeling low for no apparent reason. It could be that we had a bad dream that we don’t remember, or we slept in an awkward position which caused tension in our muscles. Sometimes there actually isn’t a clear reason why we feel what we feel. Our challenge is what we do with those feelings as they come.
Dr. Russ Harris ‘The Happiness Trap’
What we can control is the negative thoughts we have. At the end of this month, or next month, we will be talking about how we can change our negative thought patterns and build positive, healthy thoughts.