By David Joel Miller.
Looking for happiness?
It is hard to find something if you don’t know where it is or what to look for. Happiness is a lot like that. Can you remember the name of your elementary school? What was the school mascot? People are able to answer questions like that all the time but they have difficulty describing things that might make them happy.
It is also helpful to know how to avoid going somewhere you do not want to go. Besides knowing the things that might make you happy it pays to know the things that might make you sad, afraid or mad. Most of the time we can feel sad when it is inside us but often we can’t remember or describe it even at a few minutes distance.
When asked what things make you happy or sad lots of people can’t tell me or they will list off some things, video games or a new job to make them happy and losing their job or not getting something they want will make them sad. Things are easier to describe than relationships and characteristic like love and acceptance. Most times those things are only symbols for the feelings we all would like to experience.
We spend so much time with ourselves, every moment of every day we are there with ourselves. Most of the time we are there but we are not present. We may be physically in our bodies but our minds, our consciousness is not home. We are avoiding feeling what we feel.
You would think that we should know all about ourselves. Most of us never take the time to really get to know ourselves, our wants and desires, until a crisis strikes.
If I asked you about your best friend, what they like what makes them happy or sad, could you tell me?
Many times the person I asked can describe in detail their friend or relatives’ favorite color, flower, movie or place. But ask them to tell you about themselves and they are out of answers. We ask our friends these questions, talking about you and asking about the other is part of the process of getting acquainted. Often we are afraid to take the time to get to know ourselves.
Would you want you for a best friend? Lots of people in therapy will say no. I tell them that they need to be their own best friend. How can others treat you better than you treat yourself?
So the first step on the road to happiness is getting to know you. Seeing you realistically but still being able to accept you with all the faults. We often can accept a friend with warts and all but let us be one hair less than perfect and we can judge ourselves unmercifully. Learn to accept yourself.
One question I ask kids is if they were that person in the Aladdin’s lamp story and they found that lamp, what would their three wishes be? Some kids give me a list of things video games and new sneakers. Other kid’s say they want their parents to stop fighting or to still be together. Wishes like this tell me about what is really important. What do you think you would wish for?
How might having three magic wishes reveal what you truly value and what direction you need to go to find your happy life?
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the books, trainings and classes category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Thanks to all who read this blog.