Happy: Lucky, fortunate, contented with one’s lot.
Are you happy most of the time? Do you feel lucky, fortunate and contented with your ‘lot’ in life?
Happiness is certainly not something that can be given to us by anyone else – not by a partner, a parent, doctor, or therapist because it is a feeling, not a commodity, and our feelings are uniquely our own.
Perhaps it is easier to know when we are unhappy. How do we know when we are unhappy? Usually we will recognize it as a heaviness or flatness in our energy. We may feel angry, sad, irritated, worried, resentful, restless, lonely or just plain ‘glum’. We may know why – and we may not.
If we are physically unwell, some of these emotions will be present and make it difficult for us to feel lucky, fortunate or contented with our ‘lot’. And yet we will still find moments of happiness in the midst of these when we are stimulated by something that gives us pleasure – the unexpected sight of someone we love, a child’s smile or hug, or a piece of music, for instance.
There are all kinds of reasons why we feel these emotions. Sometimes they are obvious, and sometimes we really can’t put our finger on the source of these uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes we blame other people or the world at large for not giving us what we want. More often we blame ourselves for not being able to cope with difficulties.
Our emotions are an important part of ourselves. Even the so-called ‘negative’ emotions have a purpose. It is only when they are out of balance, inappropriately expressed or unexpressed, that they cause problems.
Deep in our brains live our survival instincts – our body’s automatic responses to ensure its safety and the continuance of our species.
Rage: the power to protect ourselves and the people we care about
Fear: the ability to recognize danger
Panic: the fear of pain – the drive to remove ourselves from danger
Nurturing: the drive to take care of our young
Lust: the drive to procreate and to create, i.e. ‘lust for life’
Put in that context, they seem perfectly normal and useful. Unfortunately, very early in our lives we often respond to quite ‘ordinary’ events with our survival instincts and store the memories away. When we recognize events as resembling these earlier events, we react without thinking and don’t even realise what is happening.
Emotions are our feeling response to events in our lives. These are feelings we are aware of in our bodies – anger, anxiety, worry, sadness, loneliness, excitement, love, joy, affection. They are normal and are part of what makes us ‘human’. Our ability to respond to events emotionally is a valuable asset and allows us to live rich lives. It is only when particular ‘negative’ emotions are present constantly or frequently that they cause us to feel ‘unhappy’ – or ‘not happy’.
BALANCING OUR EMOTIONS
Sometimes physical imbalances in certain organs can contribute to our negative emotional state. This is because chemicals created by organic imbalances can affect the emotional centres of the brain and distress the nervous system.
Sometimes our attitude to events in our lives, the people around us and the state of the world cause us to feel certain emotions. Once we are aware of the attitudes (ways of viewing events) that are creating our uncomfortable feelings, we have some choice in reviewing how we think about the world.