How do you define happiness?
The dictionary says:
delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person. and characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy:a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
Simple right, just be delighted and pleased and smile alot? Well not so much. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics nearly half (45%) of all Australians have experienced a mental disorder at least once in their life, and most commonly anxiety and depression are the culprits.
The thing is as much as happiness is elusive, defensive and aggressive behaviours based on fear and pride are running rife, smothering the workplace, the home, sport and schools. I was lucky enough to attend a course recently for work, HeartStyles, that lifted the lid on why we behave like this, and exposed how we are spreading unhappiness between us as fast as a cold virus can sneeze and cough its way through a peak hour bus.
The premise they lead with was how the vast majority of people have a good heart and good intentions. As they move through life wounds and voids occur and often work to crowd out the goodness as we protect and defend ourselves from having to suffer again. Our once vulnerable self is covered by a dark wall that lets nothing and no-one in to hurt you again. This is when happiness really becomes a huge struggle. Brené Brown, a researcher "storyteller" from the US explains it so well in her TED talk below.
The courage to be imperfect and show imperfection to others.
I love every minute of what she has to say - basically she has found that if we are going to be happy vulnerability is key. Her research shows that those people that are happy are living wholeheartedly, being vulnerable with the knowledge that they could get hurt. And even more interestingly they strongly believe they are worthy of love in spite of their imperfection.
For the sake of our children
We can't escape our parents, you will become your mother, the good and unfortunately the bad stuff passes down the line. Our behaviour gets hardcoded into the neural pathways of our children, and even more so our whole outlook on life. Our anxiety when their imperfections start to show is SO damaging to their worthiness and like Brené says "Our job is not to keep them perfect but to realise they are imperfect and hard-wired for struggle...our job is to make sure they know they are worthy of love and belonging."
I can't think of any better reason than looking into the beautiful unaffected eyes of my two sons to find a way to be grateful and wholehearted about my life. Maybe by doing so I can start to really get on this single ride I've got in this big theme park called life. We only get one chance at it and quite frankly I'm tired of not throwing my arms in the air and screaming with unbridled joy.
Do you want to get on too? or are you on it already and can share what it feels like to us who are still holding back?