As I reflect on the coming summer solstice, I think about the joy summer brings in my household. The anticipation of long, warm days, vacations, and time by the pool or at the beach. Even with all of these inherently joyful things, it doesn’t guarantee that we will be happy.
Recently, I was working with a client on releasing some of his own past negative emotions so he could instill personal happiness, love, and motivation in his life. As we worked through his emotions, he definitely felt better, but he was concerned about meeting a friend of his for dinner that night.
The more he spoke of her, I came to realize that she enjoyed inviting and empoisoning others with her own unhappiness, frustrations and sadness. She relished stealing others’ happiness. That was her joy.
My client first thought his friend would benefit from the type of coaching I was offering him. As we spoke more about her, we both came to the conclusion that she wasn’t ready to give up her own negativity. At this time in her life, it defined her, and she was comfortable in it.
This conversation caused me to reflect on my life over the last week. There were plenty of opportunities for me to allow others to steal my joy. The good news is that those same opportunities allowed me to create my own joy, to live in happiness’ light, and invite others to join me.
Ultimately, it prompted me to review what control we have over our own happiness.
A well-intended friend left me a message prior to last week. She said, “I know this week is going to be tough for you. I know you are going to be triggered by a lot of things. ... Just know I love you. I support you, and you will get through this.”
Although this came from a place of love, and I appreciated her sentiments and purpose. It also rubbed me wrong. It assumed that these events in my life would act as triggers to steal my joy. That’s why she needed to reassure me.
To give you some background, there were three events over the last week that could have stolen my joy. First, I had to go to divorce court. Second and third, I had my daughter’s rehearsal dinner and wedding, where my ex-husband would be attending with his new girlfriend.
Don’t get me wrong! In the last 18 months I have had plenty of non-happy moments: screaming at my kids or best friend and mornings I woke up crying and unable to get up. I may have even slammed a door…. or three. It has been a tough time in my life.
However, these all gave me the opportunity to examine more closely what brought joy into my life. It really opened my eyes and allowed me to:
- See what was happening around me
- Notice my triggers and challenges
- Analyze my actions and reactions
- And choose to act and react differently for a better outcome
External Versus Internal Happiness
We all experience external happiness as children. As we explore the world, we are delighted by new things, by interacting with the world around us, and, of course, those things that give us pleasure.
When we become tweens and teenagers, there is a strong desire to explore our identity and establish our independence. But in this nascent stage of our personalities, we still rely heavily on external factors like our peers, how the media says we should dress or speak, and approval from the important people in our lives.
As we become adults, and more comfortable in our skins, we develop our own internal happiness that is independent of the influence of people, places, and things. It is something wie come to appreciate in ourselves and the lives we live. It is something we manifest internally.
Even as we live with our own joy in life, we can never completely ignore the external factors that can influence our thoughts and emotions. Nor should we ignore them. They are part of the richness of life.
These triggers can come from anywhere and include a wide range of events. From the small things (i.e. being cut off on the freeway or being treated rudely when you are in public), all the way to big life events (i.e. Father’s Day after you father has passed, a divorce, or watching your child get married), all of these moments are likely to bring about moments of sadness.
But it’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that matters.
Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Joy!
As with my client's long-time friend, we understood she wore her woe-is-me attitude as a victim’s badge of honor. She wasn’t ready to let go of her negative emotions. My client, however, was learning to let go of his own negativity, and that included not letting his friend steal his joy.
Last weekend, during all the wedding festivities, I had others unhappy that I was happy. One person in particular was mad at me because I wasn’t sad, angry, and miserable. The more I smiled and laughed with others, the angrier he became.
I came to realize that when you shine your own light of happiness, two things happen. You attract people into your light who want to share in it with you, or you detract those who are jealous, self-conscious, or otherwise don’t like you because you possess something they feel they don’t. In reality, your happiness is an internally manifested product, not an external one. They just don’t get that.
Tapping Your Inner Joy
So, how then do you tap into your inner joy and happiness? Well, both my client and I were fortunate in that we knew certain triggers were coming up in our lives. We had the opportunity to rehearse our responses before going into those situations. This tactic works wonders for those situations you know are coming or are unavoidable.
You can also prepare yourself by employing the PIST method. Pause – Internalize – Stop- Think. It takes practice, and it may not always be 100% effective, but the more you employ these four steps, the more control you will have over your own joy.
Recognize your potential triggers and be aware of them. You may not always see them coming, but you should recognize what they are. When something happens, pause before you react. You don’t want to lash out emotionally.
Reflect on the possibilities of what is going on around you. Is this about them or you? Is it feedback you should consider? What can you learn from this?
Stop your negative emotions before they start. Reframe them in a less negative way or elicit positive emotions or memories. What could be a potentially positive outcome to the situation. If you have a “happy place” in your mind, go there. Think about times where you have felt extreme joy. Then, recall it, relive it, and breathe it in. Keep that happy moment on-hand for just these situations.
Focus on the outcome of each reaction that is coming to your mind. If you need to be more precise, look at what the outcome might look like 15 minutes from now. If you react or respond this way, what will they do. Will that reaction lead to a positive outcome? And always keep in mind, that sometimes no action is the best action.
Remember, you maintain control of your emotions. Don’t give in to the negative cycle of external triggers and naysayers. I’m not saying it’s easy. It does take a lot of practice. But it is all you. You must own your happiness.
#Happiness #SummerSolstice #Joy