January 31, 2015

Seven Mistakes We Make in the Pursuit of Happiness #1

Let’s face it.  Every time you turn around, you find new advice on being happy.  Books promising to reveal the true secret of happiness line the shelves of Barnes & Noble and are suggested readings on Amazon.com.  Blog posts telling you, “Write down three things that make you happy today.”  Friends saying “Move on!” and, “Cheer up!” after you’ve had a bad day.
And maybe you’re wondering… what’s wrong with that?
Happiness is a good thing right?  Well, yes.  Of course it is.
But we are being taught that our lives should be a straight and narrow path toward happiness.
We are taught that we should strive for happiness, and happiness alone in everything we do.
And that if we’re not always feeling happy, then something is terribly wrong.
The truth is, happiness should not be our only focus, and continuously striving for it, to the detriment of everything else, can actually cause us to make lots of mistakes.  Here are seven such mistakes, one at a time, and how to fix them:
1.  We view setbacks and growing pains as failures.
When we actively pursue happiness, anything that makes us feel unhappy can seem like a failure – such as a simple setback or challenging moment – when in reality these things are unavoidable, normal parts of personal growth.  Sometimes it’s just easier to feel depressed and trapped by these experiences and let them get the best of us.
Think about a time in your life when you faced a challenge.  Maybe you lost your job, were betrayed by your best friend, and got rejected by a loved one.  How did you respond to this?  Did you feel like a victim, or did you embrace it as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn something valuable?
If you’re like most people (including myself), you probably struggled to have a positive attitude at the time, and the situation was probably incredibly hard to deal with.
For myself, in that situation, I learned that challenges are never easy.
However, setbacks and challenging moments in life are also opportunities in disguise for something bigger and better.  If we can learn to appreciate and embrace them equally to the moments that make us feel happy, we can more easily see the light in our darkest moments, push through these difficult times, and make the most of every opportunity to heal and grow.
#2 next time.

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