One of the most difficult things to do when managing our thoughts and emotions is to just let things be.
Instead, we have the tendency to avoid or cling to certain thoughts and emotions.
We judge some as good, others as bad, and these judgments – in many ways – become a self-fulling prophecy.
On this site I often quote positive psychologist Tal Ben-Sahar when he says, “We must give ourselves permission to experience the full-range of human emotions.”
I’ve written before how we must give ourselves permission to be negative every now and then. If someone we love dies unexpectedly, we should allow ourselves to grieve over our loss. Similarly, when we fail at something, it is only natural that we will feel frustrated or disappointed.
These emotions are a necessary part of living, and by suppressing them or avoiding them we only let them build up inside of us. This often exacerbates the problem. It makes our emotional world more chaotic, because we don’t give our emotions a healthy way to express themselves.
In the same way, people tend to cling or avoid thoughts and emotions we associate with “happiness.”
It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Sometimes when life gets “too good,” it actually makes us feel worse – because we think, “How am I supposed to make these good feelings last? I’ve never felt this good before, I don’t deserve this.”
We create a kind of “mental ceiling” in our heads. We feel we only deserve to experience X amount of happiness at a time, and when we pass that limit we feel undeserving. We may even see others suffer, and say, “Why should I (of all people) be allowed to feel this good?”
Our happiness then becomes ridden with guilt, so much that we sabotage any opportunities to feel good – however small or simple they may seem. Some of us are even led to believe that our happiness is insignificant in the “greater scheme of things.”
Henry Ward Beecher said, “The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
Yet — so few of us permit ourselves to experience such happiness – it’s too simple, too easy, too small, and too unimportant. It therefore can’t possibly be worth our time.
Take a beautiful sunrise as a very simple example. It happens almost every morning, yet how many of us spend the time to enjoy such a common (yet often highly rewarding) experience?
The truth is most of us don’t. We can’t. We have “more important” things to do – like go to work, hit the gym, clean the house, etc. Enjoying a moment to ourselves? That cannot possibly be important.
Of course, this post isn’t about sunrises – not at all.
It’s about all the other daily opportunities for joy that we let pass us by because we feel our happiness isn’t important enough.
A lot of people don’t permit themselves to enjoy life as much as they potentially could – even when these opportunities for joy and excitement are usually staring us right in the face.
Learn how to live a happy and successful life in The Science of Self Improvement.