Why is Getting Happy so Darned Much WORK?

In July, before I embarked on Mindfulness Month, I considered rearranging the project because mindfulness seemed too easy. Then a couple of weeks into August, I looked forward to September and thought, “Ahhh…self care. A month of eating well and getting plenty of sleep and spending time outside. That’ll be such a nice break from all of this mindfulness.” Now halfway through Self Care Month, I find myself looking forward to tackling Order in October. Clearing clutter—that will be much more fun than trying to take care of myself.

It seems there are a lot of growing pains associated with personal growth, at least for me. Just when I think, “Wow! This really works! I’m happier!” I hit this wall and feel absolutely lost. Everything feels up in the air. I either can’t follow my resolutions, or I follow them and then get discouraged because, not only am I not feeling bowled over by bliss, sometimes I feel even worse than when I started. Where’s my beatific smile? Where’s my feeling of equanimity and peace? I want to feel happy, and I want to feel happy now, goshdarnit! What’s up with this painful “disequilibrium” crap?

Here’s where I need to remember to breathe. This isn’t a race. There’s no finish line and no “right” way to get there.

And it makes sense that it hurts sometimes.

Several years ago, my sister broke her arm. For weeks her arm was in a cast in a bent position while her bones healed. When it was time to take the cast off, the nurse said, “OK, I’m going to straighten your arm now.” The pain of just unbending her arm after it had been bent for so many weeks brought tears to my sister’s eyes. Knowing my sister, I’m fairly certain that the word that came to her lips began with “mother” but did not end with “Teresa.”

But it was something that had to be done if she was going to use her arm again. She could have, theoretically, opted to leave her arm in the cast or leave her arm bent for the rest of her life in order to avoid that pain, just reconciled herself to not using a healthy arm until it atrophied to the point that she couldn’t use it anymore. But how tragic and unnecessary would it have been for her to not use a part of herself just because she feared the pain she would need to experience in order to use it?

Maybe what I’m doing with this Happiness Project is healing that joyful piece of myself and doing the exercise necessary to make it functional and strong. I could go through my life just not using that piece of myself, but how tragic and unnecessary would it be to miss out on that whole area of my life because I’m scared to go through the hurt?

Maybe it’s better to go through the pain it takes to use what we have than to avoid the pain and live without that part of ourselves.

But man, it really hurts like heck sometimes.

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