Can you hear me taking one big deep breath as I begin writing this post today? Probably not … but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take it or need it! A big sigh followed …
In fact, the last three days have been so hectic that I have either been running around(day and night) having a great time (Friday and Saturday) until Sunday (yesterday) when I finally got a chance to stay home; however, I spent my time editing and rewriting a report that my husband was to hand in today.
You see, my poor sick husband had the flu and spent Saturday in bed while I went to my sister’s 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary party alone. Therefore, in my expertise as a typist, editor and writer, I offered to not only edit (three times) but to type up the changes and make the report look ‘good.’ It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew I could do the job in half the time, so I sent him to bed and got to work.
Today I have finally stopped … well sort of anyway. How good it felt to be home as I hung out some washing in the beautiful sunny autumn day. I looked out at the huge green trees resplendent against the beautiful blue of the sky and a saying immediately came to my mind. It was one I found and shared on my Facebook feed this morning:
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need …” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
I couldn’t help but think how appropriate the saying was for me today. Both gardens and books give me so much pleasure. I love the solace of my beautiful garden after so much activity and I also love to lose myself in my books when I am in need of rest and re-creation.
So today as I walked in the garden, I was mulling over my life. The exhilaration of the last few days had dissipated and this, for me, is usually followed by a feeling of ‘what now?’ Perhaps it is a feeling I am now going back to my hum drum life at home. Strange, but as much as I love being home, the let-down felling can leave me a little bereft.
But today things took a different turn. I thought back to an interview I heard on the radio this morning about accepting ALL of life and not just trying to find as much happiness as you can. Dr. Russ Harris, the author of two books: ‘The Happiness Trap’ and ‘The Reality Slap’ was discussing the subject of happiness.
I was very interested to hear Dr. Harris talk about one of the principles of The Happiness Trap namely, ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’. I couldn’t wait to read what further information he gave on his website:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets it name from one of its core messages: to accept what is out of your personal control, while committing to action that will improve your quality of life.
The aim of ACT is to help people create a rich full and meaningful life, while effectively handling the pain and stress that life inevitably brings. ACT does this by:
a) teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you. (These are known as mindfulness skills.)
b) helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – ie your values – then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.” www.thehappinesstrap.com:
Now, Dr Harris had my full attention! He said that never before have so many people tried so hard to be positive and to find happiness; however, it was not making people happier! He quoted buying a bottle of water and there, on the label, were messages about being positive while you are drinking the water. What next?
You know dear friends, it is true. We don’t want any other feelings but ‘happy ones’. If we are down, who would want to listen? If we are not feeling very positive, we try to gee ourselves up to get back ‘up there’ … but it often doesn’t work. And this is how I had been feeling earlier, after all my days of activity.
When I heard this interview, it was a real wake-up call for me to just BE a little. Accept the feeling of coming back down to earth … accept that I felt – all of a sudden – really really tired. “Go with it” said Dr. Harris “Don’t fight it; wait for the feelings to pass.”
And there you have it folks, a whole new way of thinking (which is really not new at all). I know this sounds very simple but there is a whole lot more to ACT than this. Visit the website and there you will be able to download the first chapter of The Happiness Trap for yourself … to get you started.
So, here is my new philosophy: I am NOT going to pursue happiness at all. I am going to pursue what is meaningful and important to me and let that lead me to happiness. I am going to enjoy high activities and parties when they come my way but I am NOT going to struggle against things that don’t go my way. I’ve had enough!
I want to learn to stop fighting when life doesn’t automatically hand me happiness on a platter. This, to me, is the secret to happiness … and I want to learn it. I am committed to making my life better, but that doesn’t mean that it will only be positive and uplifting.
There are many different sides to life, for instance, on Saturday at my older sister’s 50th Wedding Anniversary party, I was suddenly overcome with sadness as the cake was cut, that my eldest sister was not there with us. It is three months since she passed away without much warning and now I understand why I felt a dichotomy within myself. Happiness for one sister and sadness over the other.
And do you know what? In light of my reading about Acceptance and Commitment, this is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs. I will allow myself to feel both feelings. Let’s hope I will never stop learning no matter how hold I become.
POSTSCRIPT on The Happiness Trap from www.thehappinesstrap.com:
Based on a revolutionary new development in human psychology, this book will show you groundbreaking ways to:
- handle painful feelings far more effectively
- escape the grip of self-defeating habits
- rise above your fears, doubts and insecurities
- find more fulfilment in your work
- build more satisfying relationships and, above all,
- create a rich, full and meaningful life.
At last, a self-help book that really can change your life!