So You've Decided to Get Happy...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 9:30 AM

A few weeks ago I did a post called So You've Decided to Go Natural..., so it seemed only right that I do a similar hub post like this for those of you who have recently decided to get happy. That's what this blog is all about after all - hair and happiness. :) Well, that may be oversimplifying a bit, but generally those are my focal points.

A few years ago, I found myself in a very scary place. I was absolutely miserable. I was clingy and co-dependent. I didn't feel capable or worthy of anything good. I was obsessed with the idea of being betrayed, cheated on, left alone. Everytime I got in my car, I thought it was going to crash. I thought about death and getting sick all the time. I was convinced that I would be a horrible mother and ruin my children's lives. My finances were a complete nightmare, so I was always in crisis mode. I was jealous, resentful, unhappy, and afraid. I did not recognize myself anymore. There was this overall theme of fragility in my life. Everything around me seemed totally unstable and false.

But from the outside, it probably appeared that nothing was wrong.

Only my closest friends knew that I was depressed. It's not that I didn't talk about it at all, but I bottled most of it up because I thought this was normal. To the outside world, I was happy, healthy and generally a positive person to know and be around. I've always been a happy-go-lucky kind of person, so I wanted to remain that for people as much as possible. But it's not like I got depressed and anxious overnight. As I grew from a teenager to early twenties to late twenties; I gradually became more and more aware of myself, my patterns, my walls, my secrets and the stench of all this junk eventually got bad enough that I couldn't ignore it. One day, I thought to myself "Wow, I'm kinda F**ed up! This can't be life. There's got to be a better way." I would marvel at people who seemed to have it all together and I'd wonder how they weren't haunted the way I was. I thought I was cursed and my state of mind was outside of my control.

Depression is real. If you have a cold that you can't shake, you go to the doctor, right? So if you have a sadness that won't go away, you need to see a therapist. YOU ARE NOT CHEATING ON GOD IF YOU SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. Part of my confusion had a lot to do with my spirituality and relationship with God, and I was tired of feeling guilty about it all.  Kimberly Foster, the founder and editor of For Harriet has launched the My Sister's Keeper Project to spread the word about the necessity of mental healthcare in our communities and affect more women.  You can read my manifesto here where I explain my passion for spreading awareness of mental and emotional health issues.

Also check out When the Blues Don't Move, Parts 1 and 2 by Daree Allen and Meet an Ex-Superwoman: Why I Had to Divorce My Demons by Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler for their accounts of experiences with depression and other mental health issues.

Have you experienced anything remotely similar? Have you ever seen yourself behaving a certain way and wondered  "How did I get here? Why am I behaving this way? This is not who I am?"   You might find yourself somewhere in this self-discovery process.

No matter where you are,  it helps to view everyday as an opportunity to start over. I don't care how far you've come. Thinking of it this way keeps me from dwelling on those bad days when I make mistakes, act a fool, slip back into old habits, etc. The following posts are all about starting over:

Baby Steps to a Better You
Three Ways to Start Living the Life of Your Dreams
The Seduction of Starting Over

Over time, I realized that I needed to get back to the fundamental basics of who I am as a human being. Not as a woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend. Just as a human being. I tried to think about a time when I was truly happy. What am I good at? What excites me? Comforts me? Sustains me? The things that came to mind were reading, writing, dancing and helping others feel whole. I thought about my personal qualities that come very naturally; qualities that I love but for some reason didn't value: compassion, openmindedness, empathy and kindness. I had to wrap my mind around the idea that I was made this way for a reason, and that I could use these qualities to make a positive impact on the world.  

For some reason, we spend so much time being sad over what we think are shortcomings, that we can't see all of the ways that we shine.  The following posts are all about appreciating and loving ourselves for who we are right now - whether we grow and develop or not.

Overcome Your Inferiority Complex
Stop Sabotaging Yourself
There is Nothing Wrong With You

Within this idea that I could actually be loveable just the way I am, I began to see a glimmer of light. When you dedicate the time to rediscovering what you love to do, you can change your life. After being in pain and struggling through life for several years, finding your passion  is like pulling the cork out of a bottle of wine. Isn't it? Sometimes it's hard to get the cork out, if only because we're hesitating and struggling with the damn thing for fear of the loud pop.

At this point and throughout your journey, you need to continue to build upon this basic idea that you are whole and loveable just the way you are.  Be stubbornly faithful that everything happens the way it does for a reason and believe in yourself with a passion.  You will gradually learn to reframe your mistakes into character builders and the things that once made you feel like an outsider will begin to be the building blocks of your authenticity.   Don't be afraid to question everything you were taught and create your own happy.

Reinforce this new way of thinking through prayer and meditation and surrounding yourself with like-minded people.  You may need to change your environment by giving up people, places and things that bring you down.  We're so used to being around negative attitudes and negative talk that we often don't recognize how it affects us.  But once you start to see it, trust me, you will begin to move in the opposite direction.  When we fill our our space with abundant thinking and positive actions, we are inviting happiness and peace into our worlds.  All it takes is a choice - a decision to see the world and your life differently. 

A Spiritual Assignment
Meditation, Visualization and Change
Living Full