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What does it mean to be happy? What does the pursuit of happiness mean? How do we know when we’ve achieved it? Happiness is not a temporary state but emotional constance. Seeing happiness, as a single state of being, means we have an ideal concept in mind—to feel happy—without an actual process for getting there or maintaining it once we do. It’s seen as similar to hitting the lottery, a windfall.
Considering happy, instead, as emotional constance means we can work within all of our emotions and the events that arise in our lives, but maintain pathways back to a safe and stable emotional space. When we consider what it truly means to be happy, for each of us, there will be different answers. The answers include things like traveling the world, helping people, building a family, or owning a business. Happiness typically means met needs that manifested as wants and desires.
Incorporating this reality into our vision allows us to make space for the moments that don’t feel full of happiness. Here is where you can embrace the truth; challenges will arise and constant good-feelings are unrealistic.
What Does the Pursuit of Happiness Look Like?
Everyone follows their own path but the pathways are constructed within the same framework. This basic framework is what allows humans the physical and emotional space to feel happiness. When self-care takes place, self-worth is discovered. Self-worth practiced is layered with confidence and confidence leads to boundary-setting and selective acceptance. Boundaries and selective acceptance allow us to create space where our inner selves can flourish.
Listening to our inner voice, blocking away the external judgments, expectations, guilt, and shame, you’ll find the map of you happiness path.
Self-care starts with basic care of the body and mind simultaneously. Self-care is about meeting the needs of your physical being. Every human requires the same fundamental steps to grow. Psychology has discovered that our mental framework operates in the same way. We all require the same needs, and. we go about getting them met in individual, unique ways.
Self-care basics include preventative medical and dental care, personal goal setting, mindfulness and self-awareness practices, socializing, evaluating habits and constructs, and maintaining a livable environment. If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Living in a healthy, happy way is hard work.
If you need help with a detailed outline of real self-care, get my self-care checklist.
Self-worth is about how big of a priority we are to ourselves. If your needs are always on the backburner, your self-worth is low. Healthy self-worth isn’t about being selfish or taking away time and space from others. Self-worth means knowing that you’re in a human body, that requires care just like a plant does. It requires things that human bodies require for their very functioning.
Intentionally setting aside time to care for your delicate human plant self is vital to your survival. You may want to delay watering one more day so you can do that one more thing, but your leaves are going to turn brown. Self-worth keeps you in the care rotation. Incorporating daily practices like gratitude, journaling, or meditating is how we make our own care a habit.
Knowing your worth lets you feel guilt free in protecting it. Valuables should always be protected. Boundaries are how we do that. Setting boundaries can be difficult without a self-care routine supporting your self-worth. When self-worth is low, setting or enforcing boundaries can make you feel bad. Bad feelings tend to cause us to retract.
Take care of yourself, love yourself, and support the boundaries you need to maintain your practice of self-love.
Purpose is the drive we have in life. We can sit around wondering about what we’re doing here for our whole lives. Or we can experience things specific to what we want to feel. Making decisions about how you want to feel in life helps you choose actions that you believe will help you feel those things.
For example, someone believes they will feel recognized if they get a promotion at work. They will feel validated and so the seek out the promotion. This will lead to actions both big and small that lead up to getting the promotion. Without having the goal of getting a promotion, the actions would likely look different.
When we take care of our basic needs, assign worth to our being, and protect the worth we’ve declared, we’re able to uncover the joys in life. Slowing down to realize how precious our time is and how much we’d like to experience, we can become more intentional about how we experience it.
How to Discover Your Purpose
Your purpose can be obstructed by the many ways you’ve been treated in your life. Sometimes people outside ourselves tell us what we’re like so often, we stop listening to our inner voice. Turn your inner voice back up by practicing these steps to monitor your own patterns, interactions, participation, and how you show up in life.
No judgment. This is about self-discovery and understanding how you function as an individual so you can determine what supports the level of functioning you want to be at.
- Set personal or individual goals.
- Learn to participate in healthy interpersonal relationships
- Allow long-term or macro focus to guide your daily actions
- Attend to your relationship with faith & spirituality
- Participate in a community
Working with Your Feelings
Feelings can be tricky things to identify. If you’ve been conditioned to see your feelings as a problem for other people, they may start to trigger fight or flight in you. Meaning, a feeling arises, and then a feeling about that feeling arises because there’s been a change to the status quo.
Identifying our feelings can be complicated and scary. Trying to analyze our situation without being able to express the core feeling, intellectualizes the event, further detaching us from our core feelings. This can result in suppressing our feelings rather than processing them. Have you ever caught yourself in a cycle of “Why do I feel this way? why do I feel like this?” That’s usually a signal that there is a suppression system happening around your feelings.
Uncover core feelings with daily practices of self-exploration such as meditation or journaling.
Your Feelings are Right
Identifying your feelings—so you can communicate them in a healthy way—starts with self-exploration. Once you identify your feelings, you can give yourself permission to have them, and start processing and expressing them. Discovering your feelings is not the same as permitting yourself to act them out. Rather feeling discovery is about the validation we give ourselves to seek support in processing them.
For example: If you discover that you’re upset about a comment your boss made regarding a coworker’s reports being exceptionally well-done, you may try to talk yourself out of the feeling. You will say things like “It doesn’t matter, I’m just here to do my job” or “It’s true, why can’t they say it?” But deep down you’re feeling overlooked or invalidated. By not identifying with yourself that you’re feeling invalidated, you’re not permitting yourself to have those feelings or seek the support you may need to process them. Telling yourself it doesn’t matter is negative self-talk. You have a right to talk to yourself or a friend about your disappointment.
Discovering your feelings is not the same as acting them out.
Acting out feelings is a confusing way to communicate for many people. Imagine if your partner came into the house and started slamming doors over a situation at work. They are communicating that they’re upset, but without words, the communication is confusing. You may not know whether to talk to them or leave them alone. You won’t know how to ask them about their needs. Watching someone act out their feelings causes disconnection because most people don’t feel safe or welcome to respond.
Seeking Emotional Support
When you identify that you feel upset or angry, and verbalize your feelings, you can let your care community know you need help. Help can be reassurance, an ear for venting, or offered solutions. Knowing how to verbalize your feelings leads to effectively meeting your needs with partners and people in your care community.
Healthy relationships allow for the expression of discovered feelings.
Expressing your identified feelings to someone you care about is direct permission from yourself, to yourself, to have those feelings and seek connection.
For example: Now that you’ve discovered and permitted yourself the feelings of disappointment from your boss’s comment, you can let a friend know what you’ve discovered by saying, “I’m upset that my boss complimented a coworker’s reports and not mine.” This is both a display of vulnerability and an offer to your friend to allow them to care about your issue.
Expressing our feelings and resolving them with a trusted partner or friend, helps release the weight of those feelings. Acknowledging that you want support in resolving your feelings puts you into the practice of validating all feelings, both your own and others.
Accepting that You Are Human
You were invited into this world by the universe. It doesn’t get much more VIP than that. You matter. Your feelings matter. Your feelings matter because you have them.
There is no logical justification as to why your feelings should or should not matter. Caring is just a choice people make. Feelings always matter, whether someone acknowledges it or not. When you accept that you’re human, with human experiences, and human feelings, you can enlist the right support to help you find happiness. You’re worthy of a care community full of people who will help you process and resolve your feelings and meet your needs.
When you choose to allow your feelings to matter to yourself, you gain the confidence to insist they matter to others. This insistence helps you create the boundary for ensuring you maintain the right care community.
Space and Grace
Give yourself time to develop a practice of walking your path to happiness. Mindfulness, self awareness, and personal growth will always support you in finding emotional stability, care, and community.