Kia Ora and welcome back. First up, a big congratulations if you had a baby this week. I hope your special event didn't feel too overshadowed by a couple in England who managed to do the same thing.
The whole idea of changing ourselves before we can reasonably ask someone else to change seems to have struck a chord with those who regularly read these pages, because quite a few folks have mentioned this, since I wrote about it a few weeks back. (If you haven't read this yet, please feel free to check it out here, and see what you think).
I was also reminded recently of something I've written about on these pages several times in the last couple of years. Like the last post on changing ourselves first, this too is something so basic, that it's easy to not see the importance of it. And that's the importance of the state of happiness - how we find it, and how we hold on to it. ("happiness - again? why is he still banging on about this?").
But I also got to wondering if there is something missing in this whole quest for happiness. What I'm meaning is that although happiness is a state to which we aspire a lot of the time, and it's probably one that we should most often think about and work on, it is nevertheless but one of the range of human emotions. We are all pretty complex beasts who are capable of experiencing a raft of emotions, and happiness is but one of them. So yes, we should keep looking out for what makes us happy and go after this whenever possible, as there are many benefits for us in many different ways when we achieve it. But perhaps there is importance too, in being able to accept all the other emotional responses we experience, and try less to push them away as though the Big H is somehow our default position, and that we have failed if we are not achieving it 99% of the time.
I'm not claiming that say, anger for instance, is preferable, and no emotional state is, if it's going to hurt us, or anyone that's close to us. I was thinking more that it's important to remember we are complex beings who are fortunate enough to be able to experience a whole range of responses to what goes on in our lives, and that ability can only be good for us, and make our lives all the richer.
So I'm not knocking happiness - I value it just as much as anyone else. We all want it, we all need it, and we know this because the internet is overwhelmed with people trying to track it down (eg., if you ask your dear old Aunty Google how to be happy, she's going to come straight back at you with 1.85 billion possible answers. Whew - go aunty, your'e so busy. But if your'e just asking her how to manage your emotions in general, she can only come up with a piffling 44 million ideas).
Any emotional state is going to be limiting if it hangs around forever, and it stops any other emotions getting a look in, and thereby prevents us from fully feeling and experiencing our worlds. Because all emotions have their place. How can I not move on from a sad event such as the death of someone special, if I don't allow myself to process it, and feel grief and sadness for a while? And if someone has really set out to deceive me, I'm going to be angry at them for a while, and that's OK. Emotions are at work - and I wouldn't be without them for anything.
Later on in the year, I'm going off to do some training in Boston in ACT therapy. It's a model of therapy that focuses on some of these ideas - that unlike many other therapeutic approaches that seek to eliminate our discomforting emotional responses, ACT instead encourages us to recognise these when they arrive and learn to accept them. I'll keep you posted as to how that goes...
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."