A Key Secret To Finding Happiness

Feeling unhappy and stressed? Wonder what life would look like if the people around you would all chill out for a change? It’s easy to pawn off our unhappiness on others—to blame them for our woes—and much harder to take personal responsibility for the feelings we express.


I want to feel happy.

Feelings are a state of mind. Want to be happy? Then you need to create emotional space for it.

Here’s a powerful secret: When you truly understand that anger and outrage are internal creations of the mind, you suddenly have the ability to flush them away. Seeking happiness? Then you need to let go of the bad energy around pent up anger and make room for it.


A Raging Boil


Imagine standing in line at the bank. There’s a little old man in front of you. He looks confused. He goes up to the teller and spends the better part of 15 minutes taking care of his banking business. You get angry. Why aren’t there more tellers to handle customers? Why is the man so stupid? Why isn’t he better organized? Why can’t they have a line for old people like him so the rest of us don’t have to waste our time standing around?


Talk about poor customer service.

JB stands in line at the bank.

When we’re not in the midst of it, it’s easier to step back and analyze the dynamics of a situation like the one above. And when we do that, it’s pretty obvious who is angry and who isn’t. Our little old man (let’s call him Dave) is just going about his day. For all we know Dave is oblivious to the fact we live in a state called Angry and are rapidly headed to the land called Furious.


Curiously, even when we know Dave is oblivious, we still want to blame him for making us angry. We blame him for being stupid, wasting our time, etc. Does Dave really hold so much power he can ruin our day? It’s a good question for it goes to the core of achieving some inner semblance of happiness. After all, if we can’t relieve some of the pressure that can send us through the roof as we go to complete mundane, everyday tasks, how can we create the emotional room we need in order to be happy?




Think about it for a minute: Do we really want anyone else to be in charge of our feelings? Doesn’t the world feel arbitrary enough without having some stranger say when or if we can be happy, sad, angry or otherwise?



Hey, I’m In Charge Here


Our feelings are an internal reaction to our perception of the world. Another way to look at this is without a brain to process them, our feelings don’t exist. This is important: It means we create the feelings we experience, and that implies we have the power to change them.


It's all a matter of perception.

Some might see the first signs of fall in this picture. Some might see pretty colored leaves. Others might see chores to be done. And still others might get angry about their neighbor’s trees. It’s all a matter of perception.

Feelings are powered on and off by our perceptions. When we get angry over a given set of circumstances, there’s no telling if others would react the same way we would. We all see the world through a unique set of filters. We all have a unique set of life experiences. That means no one else is likely to stand in our shoes, look at a given thing, and feel exactly what we feel.


The issue of perception is extremely important when talking about feelings. Perceptions come in many different forms. We might judge a person’s motives. We might view an argument from a certain political or religious viewpoint. We might feel warm or hot or cold. The sky might look partly sunny to us when others might see it partly cloudy. Is the glass half full or half empty? We might flash on certain memories as we witness a particular event occuring. We might feel pressure to view an issue the same as our peers or to act a certain way because that’s what we were taught by our parents or perhaps our culture. And just to add a layer of complexity, all these forms of perception and hundreds more can come at us in various combinations.


I'm feeling really stressed!

Are you so stressed you can’t see straight? Failing to address it is not an option, that is if you plan on finding happiness.

Knowing the role perception plays in feeling what we do makes it easier to understand how standing in a bank line might send a person into a sudden fit of rage. If John’s day is already going poorly, the old man he sees in front of him at the bank may be “the last straw” to set him off. Old man Dave doesn’t know John’s car didn’t start this morning and he was late for work. He also doesn’t know John took time off work to go to the bank, and he’s behind on a big project. Furthermore, he has no clue John just got in a fight with his wife Sally, or that Dave reminds John of his Dad who is losing a battle to Alzheimer’s. Everything Dave doesn’t know unfortunately still makes him a target for John since John’s day is already so full of stress and anger something’s got to give.


As we come to understand our anger is the reaction of our mind at work processing our unique perception of the reality around us, we suddenly have a chance to change the rules of the game. How? The simple act of acknowledging what’s going on in our lives, gives us the power to make different choices.


Let’s go back to the bank. Dave is still talking to the teller. It’s been 20 minutes. John can feel his blood starting to boil. He’s just about to swear at the branch manager who walks past when he remembers he is the one writing the script. He stops. He takes a big breath of air. He takes another. He reflects on his day and realizes his anger isn’t about Dave at all, it’s about all the craziness going on in his life, so why make Dave or the bank manager the target?


Spewing Toxicity


I think I need a sun break.

Finding your way out of a stressful situation requires some time for reflection. You may need to change up your lifestyle.

There’s no question life is complicated. Sometimes there’s so much going on it can make us feel as if we’re stressed and angry all the time. For some, it may feel like blowing up and blaming others is the only way out—it does let off a little steam. Yet blowing up isn’t the cause of the anger, it’s the effect. It’s the result of letting the things we need to feel and manage on the outside fester for too long on the inside. Unfortunately, the result of blowing up at someone else is we end up spewing our toxic feelings and energy all over their day. That’s hardly fair to them and ultimately won’t make anyone involved feel any better.


Make Room For Happiness


This puppy sure is a cutey.

Got a puppy pal? Spend some time letting his love in.

If your life is full of stress and you discover it by finding you’re blowing up all the time, maybe it’s time to change things up. Why not set your alarm a half hour early and try yoga in the morning? Why not take a 5-15 minute walk every time you note you’re angry or stressed? Why not turn off the computer or television and read a book? Why not take a big breath and then another whenever you’re unsure what you’re feeling? Why not spend a few minutes with the dog and let his tail-wagging love in? There are many ways to re-balance the equation in your favor, but only if you (a) decide it’s important and (b) commit to taking steps. Don’t wait to go off like a cork. Start making better choices today.


For ways to distress read our post: The 12 Ways I Manage Stress

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