Making Time for Happiness
What prevents us from being happy? What causes us to feel suffering and anxiety
Posted Mar 15, 2015
We have talked about many things that could contribute to our happiness, like not being attached, keeping our life simple, enjoying the present moment and accepting and even learning to love what is. However, did you know there are actually things that prevent us from being happy? Things that cause a state of unhappiness, and that’s what we’re going to explore now.
What prevents us from being happy? What causes us to feel suffering and anxiety in our life?
One of the biggest challenges in trying to be happy right now isn’t that we don’t know how to be happy. It’s mostly that we just don’t do it. We don’t make the time for happiness, for peace, and for overall joy in our life.
Most of us know if we do this activity it’s going to create a good feeling inside of us, it’s going to cause us to be happy. When we don’t worry, when we live in the present moment, when we surround ourselves with people that love us and when we hear loving thoughts towards ourselves in our own mind and we actually work towards keeping our minds quite still so that we’re just living in the present moment accepting what is, loving what is, then life goes well. But, what we tend to do, unfortunately, is we take on many activities and things that keep us from happiness and what don’t allow us do what’s good for us. For example, many of us know what it takes to be physically healthy. We have to go to the gym, we have to eat right, and we have to make sure that we have proper sleep.
We know what to do, but we simply don’t do it. The knowledge is there but what keeps us from doing it is time. So in order to be happy, what we have to do is we have to make time to be happy. In order to do that, we have to get good at saying two specific letters of the alphabet, N and O. We have to say no to things in order to make time for overall health and in the case for happiness it takes time to be happy. If we don’t make time to be happy, we’re going to be anything but happy and we don’t want that. So, part of being happy is learning to say no to things and when we get overwhelmed we just let something go.
For example, over the last year and a half I took on new book projects, which took quite a bit of time, and I realized in order to do a good job at them and to make sure I still have time for my own peace of mind and happiness, I needed to let something go. Sometimes things happen to us that are out of our control. It may seem that it would be wonderful if we were in complete control of our life, but we aren’t always. Sometimes things happens to us that are completely out of our control and we have to make enough time and space to deal with them. For example, I had several losses last year too, one of them was a loss of my dog Einstein. He came to work with me for the last 15 and a half years and he was a great companion and friend. If you’re an animal lover, you can probably relate to the loss of an animal. Well it was a big loss for me and I needed to spend time to grieve over that loss. I really miss him, but obviously I’m doing a lot better. Regardless, I needed to make space and time to grieve that and because I needed that time other things needed to go. I needed time to heal so I needed to let other things go, as part of being happy is being loving towards ourselves when we experience tragedy. If we don’t make time to be loving, in order for us to heal, then we’re going to suffer and we’re not going to be happy. When there’s a loss, when there’s a change that is upsetting, most people get busier or as I’ve talked about in my podcasts, they numb that pain and numbing doesn’t heal, numbing just suppresses.
We need to make time for healing, we need to make time for change, and when we get busy we need to make time for that activity and let other things go so that we have time to be happy. Happiness takes time, and it comes from the empty space. What I mean is when we're still, when we're present, when we're just enjoying what is, then our hearts are happy. It’s when we are stuck on things and our minds are playing with activities, worries and fears, that we suffer. However, when we silence our minds and we learn to be present, we find that our natural state is one of happiness, but we have to make time for that. What can get in the way of making time for that are our busy lives, activities or events. We have to make time when we get busy and let other things go so that there is always time for happiness.
Any of us can be happy but we have to make time for it. You may be a regular listener to my Happiness Podcast, but if we don’t make time to do the things that we learn in it, it isn’t going to do any of us any good. Even I have to make time for happiness and I had to learn that over the years because I realized success, achievement and sacrifice don’t work in the long run; they just cause suffering. When we make time to be happy, we make time to be genuinely fulfilled, then we improve our lives, as well as the lives of people around us. We also then have beautiful experiences that we can share with others, but it takes time. It doesn’t mean that we can’t achieve anything, after all I did write two books since the last time we spoke, but at the same time, during that time I took time for myself and I still meditated, I still spent time in nature, I still spent time with my family, I read, I did things that I knew would work for me and I’d been able to stay healthy even though it’s been a challenging year and a half.
So the key factor here is that we have to sometimes say no to things, maybe even things that may be good for others so in the long run we can be good to ourselves. I think a lot of moms get caught on this one. They’re trying to raise their kids and do a great job which is wonderful, but when their kids are raised they’re spent and they’re exhausted. Instead, if they spent some time for themselves, I think they would find a better result for everyone all around ’cause if mom isn’t happy, really no one’s going to be happy. If we are happy, then people around us will feel that, pick up on it and create a beautiful world.
Now, what may happen is we may feel selfish when we do this. I mean after all isn’t it selfish? There are so many people out there with so many needs. Isn’t it selfish when we take time for ourselves? It is selfish, but from giving to ourselves and filling our cups, we can give to others around us. That’s the key. We don’t give from our emptiness - that’s a quick path to burning out. Giving time to ourselves enables us to give to others.
As always, I wanted to just encourage us to try this. It may seem selfish, but if we try it for a little bit, try to be nurturing, try to be loving towards ourselves, then we will see if we are more loving, nurturing and giving towards others.
I really think it’s been one of the key successes to my own life. I have been helping people as a clinical psychologist now for 25 years and I expect to go for another 25 years. I think I’d be able to keep it up because I do make time for myself and as I’ve gotten order, I slow down a bit, which is a good thing for me because now I can do even more. I want to continue to help people for the rest of my life and the way I’m going to do that is to make sure that my cup is full each and every time I reach out to help others, which is what I’ve been doing and I would encourage all of us to do the same.
Let’s make time for happiness. It does take time, it does take effort, but it has so many rewards that are truly countless.