Happiness is a choice. This is what I challenged you to see in the companion article to this one, “Make Your Life Happy – How to Prosper and Choose Your Life Pursuit of Happiness.” As John Lubbock asserts, “Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like a violin.” And if you’ve ever played violin (Believe me, I did in middle and high school) you know just how hard it is to get a sound not reminiscent of a cat fight out of that instrument. Likewise, choosing happiness may not be an easy thing to do!
Let me repeat that: Choosing happiness may not be–and is often not–an easy thing to do.
I’d like to focus on one essential element of happiness today, and that is our ability to let go of pain, bitterness, and lack of forgiveness and to get on with our lives. More than perhaps anything we do, our ability to let go of negativity–negative feelings, negative thoughts, negative experiences–is our slam dunk in the hoop of happiness.
“Ugggghhhh, not another article on forgiveness,” you may be groaning. (Be honest now…) Yes, I know letting go of bitterness and rancor against other people is sometimes about as easy as eating a posse of poisonous frogs–but if you want to be happy and prosperous, it’s necessary. (Go on, eat that frog!)
I’ve had my share of forgiveness work to do. Growing up in a family riddled with alcoholism, mental illness, and various forms of abuse left me with little to no self esteem. Throughout my life, I’ve had to make a conscious, concerted effort to make something of myself and to be heard. (I really felt ignored as a child most of the time.) I’m happy to report that my self esteem is solid now, largely because I value what I have managed to become out of difficult circumstances. I’m the flower that grew in a bed of concrete, so to speak. (And I know that many of you understand what I’m saying because you are survivors too!)
Yet even with all the work I’ve done on myself, I realize there are other levels still to come in my forgiveness process. Sometimes we forgive over and over again–like flossing our teeth (yep, and forgiveness is about as fun as flossing, daggone it)–only to find there’s something more, another negative thought about someone or the “bad” things they’ve done that crops up. This is when we need to take bold action to rid OURSELVES of that toxic thought.
Forget about doing forgiveness for other people–It is (and absolutely should be) a SELFISH process. In fact, the most compassionate loving thing we can do for ourselves is to kick out the people who are taking up psychic space in our brains. (Yes, you know who they are–‘Ya don’t have to scratch your head on that one, friend.) These energy vampires will suck you dry–And there’ll be nothing left for YOUR dreams, YOUR goals, YOUR self realization.
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Are you willing to let those happiness-suckers live up there, like irritating in-laws who just won’t leave and instead gobble everything in your refrigerator, run up your utility bills, and borrow your brand new car without asking?
Kick ’em out! Jettison those crappy thoughts and energy vampires from your brain! Use the crap as compost for your burgeoning dreams and purpose.
Happiness is a perspective, one that becomes, with enough practice, a state of being. It arises out of real compassion for ourselves and others in which we refuse to see ourselves as struggling alone and we resist seeing others as our enemies. Think about that wonderful story from World War I in which the opposing forces sang Christmas carols together from their separate camps. Sure, they started fighting again later, but for that one Christmas Eve, the insistent power of love and human connection triumphed and differences were dissolved.
As the Dalai Lama says so eloquently in one of my favorite reads, The Art of Happiness, our compassion frees us to love ourselves, our enemies, and everyone with whom we come into contact. And if anyone demonstrates compassion, it’s got to be the Dalai Lama. He persists in being kind-hearted, compassionate, and forgiving to the Chinese, even after they drove him into exile from his homeland of Tibet. Compassion–often cloaked in the robes of forgiveness–sets us free, free to be happy and fulfilled in the deepest sense of the word!
You may think there are plenty of reasons to not be happy: We?re at war, unemployment is high, we?re in a recession, blah, blah, blah. And these are all legitimate concerns. However, take a peek at your life with the wonder of a child! You can breathe, you can see (with your actual eyes and your inner eye!), you can walk, talk, sing, dance, read, write, and so much more! And even if you have a “disability,” I am sure your other senses have become much stronger to compensate, so you are blessed with extraordinary gifts others will never enjoy.
The point is, this is not a time for pity pots and rancor. You cannot afford to make the choice to be UNhappy! The world at large–and the people in your particular world–need your hope and faith and your loving kindness.
Do you want to know what the secret of happiness is? Look around you at who and what you’re griping about. Then forgive that person or situation. Weave the threads of forgiveness of yourself and others and you’ll wrap peace around your heart instead of a noose around their necks (or your own). SAVE yourself with forgiveness and compassion and you WILL live happily ever after.
About the Author
Dr Barnsley Brown
Professional speaker and coach Dr. Barnsley Brown loves helping people like you save thousands of dollars and start living the life of their dreams! Check out Dr. Brown’s exciting e-book and audio package, Get Out of Debt and Get On With Your Life, at http://tinyurl.com/drb-getoutofdebtnow