I have Lost my Smile.
Can we choose Happiness?
I love this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh so much. It makes me smile, and brings tears to my eyes ….. all at the same time.
It’s funny isn’t it, that we talk about tears of joy. Tears of Happiness.
We say: I was so happy I could cry.
It never seems to work the other way round. Even though it would be so great if it did!
I was so unhappy I could laugh….. ?
When you watch children just doing their thing, they flow through the emotions so easily. One minute they fall over and burst into tears. And almost immediately they’re up again and giggling about something. Or a quick burst of anger about not getting their way about something, which is forgotten quickly, when something somewhere makes them smile.
So when did we lose our smile?
When did it become so apparently clear that happiness was not ours for the living? When did happiness get broken down, boxed up, rationed, and placed beyond our reach?
We’ve learnt to think that happiness is conditional.
We think stuff like :
I will be happy when …… I get that new car ….. they offer me a job promotion ….. I meet my soulmate ….. or for that matter I meet my any-mate ….. I have more friends ….. less friends ….. more proper friends …..
Or ….. I can’t be happy because ….. I’m too fat ….. too thin …. I don’t own my own house ….. there’s too much responsibility in my life ….. I can’t afford to go on holiday ….. my partner wants to leave me ….. I hate my job …..
Or ….. I can’t be happy when … the world is in such a terrible state ….. when my relative is so sick ….. I can’t pay my bills …. I’m too lonely …..
(Please feel free to add your own unique list
of reasons to be unhappy....)
Don’t get me wrong. All emotions have a part to play in our health, our vitality and our well-being. Of course there are moments in our lives when sadness, grief and emotional pain take over. Sometimes uncomfortable feelings are with us for a long time.
And I’m not suggesting that we all stick an artificial grin on our faces and pretend it’s all OK. No.
Definitely not that.
My feeling is that we get tuned in to the wrong frequency. That there’s a different frequency that we could tune in to. There’s an inner happiness frequency that gets switched off.
I also think that depending on our life experience to date, some people can re-tune easier than others.
Is Happiness a Choice?
According to Bronnie Ware, who, over a period of years, worked and talked with people who were dying, and wrote a book about her observations, (‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ – there’s a link below), one of the top five regrets of people nearing death is: That they wish they’d Let themselves be Happier.
Isn’t that an interesting use of the word ‘Let’? It doesn’t say that they wish they’d been happier. It clearly suggests that being happy is a choice.
Seems to me that the children know. And the dying know.
So what happens in between?
Why are so many of us rushing around being stressed, anxious, miserable, and with the absolute conviction that we have no choice in the matter but to remain unhappily in the struggle?
So how come EFT focuses on the negative then?
Good question. Because it works I guess….
The first way is straightforward EFT
As I’ve talked about elsewhere, EFT focuses on the negative. The instructions are clear: Think of an episode where you felt a negative emotion, and then focus on it while you Tap. (See link below if you’re new to EFT/Tapping).
However, don’t forget that The Set-Up Statement creates a very different slant on the type of focus that EFT asks you to make:
Even though I feel … (horrible in some way)… I deeply and completely love and accept myself. From the outset, EFT is neutralising the negativity.
This act of focusing while Tapping just has this instantaneous effect. The negativity disappears. So that’s one route already, to feeling happier.
The second way begins with a positive affirmation
As we’re talking about choosing happiness, here’s a simple suggestion to help guide you along the way.
Begin with a positive affirmation ……..
…….. and then Tap on any doubts or fears that the affirmation brings up.
Sounds great doesn’t it?
At least until the ‘if onlys’ start creeping in ….
If only that were true …. if only I could be better at my job …. if only it were that easy ….
Using positive affirmations can create conflicting, negative feelings about the truth of it, which then casts doubts on our ability to live it ….. be it …..
So to use EFT/Tapping to guide you though, don't ignore the doubts you feel ...
Focus instead on the negative feelings that come up ….
Is everything really going to go my way? Do I have challenges today that may well not go my way? If so, which ones?
Can I really cope in a competent way with certain tasks I have to do today? If not, which ones and why not?
…… and when you find yourself focusing on a specific fear or doubt, name the emotional charge that comes with it, scale it (0-10) and then Tap it away.
Even though … I’ve got a meeting with my boss and that makes me very nervous …. I love and accept myself, and today is going to be a good day.
Even though … I hate my new hair cut …. I love and accept myself, and I’ll get over it.
Even though … I have all these doubts about how good a parent/colleague/friend/partner etc. I really am … because of what happened yesterday/last week etc. …. I love and forgive myself. And I accept myself, and anyone else involved in this.
And then, go back to your positive affirmation and say it all over again.
Keep at it until you get that feeling inside that tells you that you can believe it!
There's a third way .....
There’s a third way too.
I like this way.
It uses the word ‘Choose’ in the set-up and reminder phrases.
So a ‘Set-Up Statement’ might be:
Even though …….. (the negative bit) …….. I choose to be happy.
And a fourth .....
Tap using a straightforward positive statement.
This is a technique that will work sometimes.
You just Tap and focus on the positive. But don’t ignore what comes up that casts doubt on your ability to be happy, and Tap on anything that does come up.
Set-Up Statement (SOH 3 times): Today, I choose to be happy.
Because your happiness really matters, and it is precious. It resides within you, always. Even though sometimes it gets hidden, completely buried under the dross of daily life.
Even if you feel like you lost it a long time ago.
Allowing your inner happiness to be transparently present, even on dark days, will carry you closer to a better and more fulfilled life.