It matters where you invest your time and energy.

Tragic mask on the façade of the Royal Dramati...

Image via Wikipedia

Why is it that we spend so much time looking for what is wrong when there are so many things that are right and good in life?

Our attention is often fixed so hard on trying to fix things that are upsetting us while our good fortune is left overshadowed.

It may be because it is so easy to be happy, feel the feelings that we like and remember the good times while difficult memories and unpleasant feelings are unwanted so we spend heaps of energy trying to rid ourselves of them. The theory is to focus on the ‘bad’ stuff, get rid of it and then we can all be happy again.  

It is so ironic that the more time we spend trying to avoid and rid ourselves of difficult thoughts and emotions the bigger they grow. The more effort we put into trying to rid ourselves of unpleasant memories and emotions the more powerful they become. How annoying is that?

Think about everything you do to avoid emotional discomfort. Maybe you smoke, do drugs, drink alcohol, do lots of coffee, sleep a little more than you really need to, snack when your not hungry, watch TV rather than do something fun, say no to that invitation when deep down you know you haven’t been out and had fun for ages.  

The answer is to accept that life is full of emotions and memories. Some memories and emotions are awful and others are fantastic and wonderful. Fixating on one difficult memory or emotion can close you off to experiencing others. The remedy is to say “you know, this is how I feel right now, I don’t like it but it will pass and in the mean time I will get on with living”.

If you feel stuck, do something positive. Think about something you are grateful for. Acknowledge a strength that you have.  Do something that you like doing or that you think is fun. Maybe it wont feel so great at first but persevere. It is better than spending all that energy on avoiding unpleasantness. One day you’ll look back with pride and say “I got through that hard bit, cool”.

Take care

Therapy Monkey

What do you want?

Edith, a chimpanzee born in the Saint Louis Zo...

Image via Wikipedia

To truly live you have to know what you want. Whether you want to do this or that. Less of one thing and more of another. You may want to try something completely different but are too scared of failure.

Having the idea is the most difficult thing to come up with but once the idea is there it can be a difficult thing to ignore. It has to be a realistic idea of course. Then, once you know what you want it’s a matter of going about getting it or working towards getting whatever it is. Sounds so simple but it really is.

The things that are important to you in life are your guide to finding a fulfilling existence, the path with a heart. There are lots of lists of values on the internet and web sites about this type of thing but we as people tend to look outside of ourselves for things that will make us happier. New job, career, new partner, shoes, car, watch, clothes, furniture, drugs and whatever else we can think of to make us happier. This is a band aid type approach.

Real happiness is not just a feeling, it is what you get for living life, being connected to others, doing the things that are important or meaningful to you. Please don’t be one of those people who sit there complaining that they just want to be happy and not do anything about it. Not everyone enjoys mowing the lawn or cleaning the house or exercising but everyone loves the feeling you get after you clean the house, or mow the lawn, or work out. So, if you believe in animal welfare, help animals. If you love music, go see someone play. If family is important, give a relative a call. If your health is important, exercise.

Use your negative emotions as a guide and ask your self what these emotions are telling you. If you are discontent, ask your self why you are unhappy and what you could do to become a happier person. Your negative emotions will tell you where to start. If you are angry you may just be angry at yourself for not doing stuff. You may be sad because you’ve let some opportunities pass you buy. Don’t dwell on this stuff, use it as information. Emotions tell us something important is happening.

Of course you will give your self lots of reasons why you can’t do this and can’t do that. If you can’t then that is how it is and don’t worry about it. Move to the next thing. Don’t spend your life being bitter that you haven’t done X, W or Z. You can get stuck believing that you will only been truly happy today if you’d done X, Y or Z yesterday. Check mate! If you haven’t done it you haven’t and if you can’t you can’t. Acceptance is key here. You don’t have to like it, just accept it. Done. Get angry, punch a pillow, talk to a friend about it and do something that you can do now. 

So don’t live in the past and worry about the future. Live today and do something that is meaningful. The trick is to know what is meaningful and what is important to you. 

Take Care

Therapy Monkey