Misery was my primary emotion for the best part of the first 40 years of my life. A general feeling of unhappiness, accompanied by disinterest in life, a distinct lack of creativity and imagination, with a focus on the achievement and success.
The beauty of life, the joy in a new day reemerging each morning was a mystery to me. To spice things up I lived without routines and unpredictably. And with a question. How does one find happiness?
It really irks me when I read how simple it is to be happy. You just decide! According to the well-meaning advice of many it's as simple as that.
I'm here to tell you it's not that simple. It's not about suddenly thinking differently and deciding to let go of stuff, to smile and fake it until you make it. If it were that easy, or at least as easy as it's made to sound, wouldn't the world be a happier place?
Sarah suggests that misery might just be an addiction. Well, I don't think that was my experience.
Misery for me was a whole head and heart full of sadness from unresolved issues from the passed. In Gestalt therapy, we call that unfinished business. Such an apt description.
When our concerns are unresolved they play out forever in our conscious and subconscious mind, and show up as sometimes intense emotions when triggered, until we can make sense of them. Often that takes support and help from others. It's definitely a case of, "you don't know what you don't know". The thoughts that are actually trying to problem solve go around and around in circles and become that monkey mind that we are all familiar with.
Valuable insights have emerged from my Master's programme. Completing the cycle of experiences is one that I bring to my clinic with clients every day.
The ebb and flow of experience is something that I really didn't understand until I had many opportunities to experience and examine it. Anywhere around the cycle we will get stuck if we are not able to complete the experience well. We'll often get partway around the cycle or jump from the beginning, miss the next few steps and arrive at the conclusion.
It's a lot like the needle being stuck in a groove on the album played on the turntable of an old record player. We repeat the same interrupted process until we find our way out, or someone gives us a nudge.
When intense emotions are triggered I now know that they are an indication of something unresolved. With the support of the cycle of experience, I take the time to reflect and complete any unfinished business from my passed. It's liberating.
Nowadays when something is still bothering me at night as I climb into bed, something I haven't been able to find closure with, I take the time to write about it in my journal. When I close my journal, that's my signal to let go of that thing.
Being able to bring things to closure is important for peace of mind and body. Not just the troubling things, but the joyful ones as well. When our emotions are heightened we are pumping all sorts of hormones and chemicals into our body that she will tolerate for short periods of time. Then it's time to let go. That buddhist concept of non-attachment makes sense to me. A joyful experience that is heightened and not allowed to pass will leave you sleep deprived.
Allowing our experiences, our feelings and emotions to have their season, to ebb and flow, brings a welcome harmony to life, and makes room for the next experience to delight you.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.