Three Key Ingredients for True Happiness (Part I)
There are 3 key ingredients in the recipe for true happiness. The first ingredient is Acceptance. (The other two will follow in the next round of monthly tips)
A very challenging task for many of us, accepting yourself for ALL of who you are is the first step of acceptance. Many people identify various parts of their personality as positive or negative and these so-called “negative” traits or qualities are cast off into their shadow- or dark side. They try to disassociate from these traits and deny that they exist as part of their being. Examples of shadow traits could be impatience, a tendency toward being depressed or anxious, a traumatic history of abuse and so forth. These less than perfect traits can become a source of great shame and embarrassment, hence the desire to hide them from the world and even from themselves. There are many problems with this kind of thinking. The first problem is the assumption that something is wrong with you because of these traits. The truth is we ALL have such parts within us. What I may judge a negative trait for myself, would not necessarily be deemed as such by someone else- so the barometer is totally biased. Nothing is wrong with you for being the complex person that you are, which includes infinite qualities, experiences and choices made in your past that make up the unique individual that you are today. And most of all, until you integrate these two parts of yourself, the light and dark or positive and negative, you will not be a complete and whole person. I challenge ALL of you to consider those parts of yourself that you push into the naughty corner of your existence. Accept that both sides have a purpose in your life and all of these traits, experiences and parts of your self have a role in making you interesting and a full human who is not now and never will be perfect.
This element of acceptance often follows shortly after acceptance of the self. When you are able to accept and love ALL of yourself, it is much easier to accept the shadow side in others. We are all on our own journeys in this life- to accept ourselves and to understand our purpose. Life is so much easier and fuller when we can be kind to others despite those parts of them that they may be pushing into the shadow- or alternately, we see as belonging in their shadow. We cannot change others, so accepting them for who they are, as they are and where they are in their own journey is like deciding to swim with the current instead of against it.
Mark Twain once said, “life is what happens while we are busy planning.” It is important to have dreams and goals- and to make decisions that help us to achieve them. And as mere mortals, we only have so much control over outcomes. Learning to accept that forces beyond our comprehension may intervene and throw a kink in our plans, will improve the flow in your life. Worrying about what may come will keep you paralyzed and prevent you from living in the NOW and fretting about current situations that you didn’t plan on or are unhappy with, will keep you from finding your joy. Yes, there are certainly situations that get away from us and sometimes we can exert our will in getting things back on track. I urge you to know the difference between such situations and those that require our acceptance.
~Hilary Silver, Mental Health Expert, Campus Calm