Have you ever found yourself sabotaging your own happiness because you do not think you deserve it? Or have you ever felt guilty about being happy? If you answered yes to these questions, then you are likely preventing yourself from living a genuine, meaningful life. As humans, we may often view happiness as a limited resource that may eventually run out if we use it up. Happiness could also be relative and individuals may have various baselines of happiness as a result of their childhood, modeled relationships, and current life satisfaction. We may often find ourselves making excuses for our unhappiness and blaming it on external factors, such as “I would be happier if I had a different job” or “my relationship would be healthier if my parents got along when I was a kid.” But what happens when we focus our happiness on external factors? We never find the solutions to happiness because we are focusing on the wrong factors, rather than internal factors. The following may help bring your awareness back to internal and intentional processes that lead us to happiness:
- Rely on yourself to be happy- not others, not money. This will help you be more grateful for your current life.
- Meditate daily and use this time to let go of everyday stressors.
- Identify the small things that naturally bring you joy (i.e., walks with your dog, your health, certain friends or family members, hobbies, and the list goes on)
- Accept that your past does not have to dictate your future. You have the power to create your new future, despite any hardships you have faced.
- Always remember that happiness is contagious; therefore, surround yourself with positive people and share your happiness with others.
Now, let’s talk about the nasty, overwhelming emotion known as guilt that often hinders our happiness. We have all felt guilty for something in our lives. We’ve felt guilty about things we’ve done, said or things we did not do or say. However, you’ve probably noticed that guilt does not serve a significant purpose when we find ourselves in such situations. There seems to be two ways of dealing with guilt: you can do nothing about it and stay miserable or face it- learn from the experience that got you there and move on. If you don’t use guilt in a positive way, by learning from it, then you will not accomplish anything because staying guilty is unproductive. If you do experience guilt, start viewing it as a challenge that could be overcome rather than getting stuck in its cycle. This could be a profound learning experience that could help you find you inner happiness again and ultimately help you feel more confident to overcome difficult situations. We often make the decision to hold on to negative experiences, choose not to forgive others, fear the unknown- and in the end, we end up being the ones who suffer. This suffering is self-induced and not helpful.
If you find yourself struggling with happiness guilt or happiness in general, meeting with a psychologist may help you identify factors that may be hindering your ability to feel genuinely happy. Psychologists at the Miami Psychology Group are currently accepting patients in the Miami and Miami Beach area.