~THE GRATITUDE HAPPINESS PARADOX~

ATTENTION FB

My EPIPHANY at 4:30am on a Monday morning?

Gratitude does not equal happiness. Being thankful and being happy, are not always dependent on the existence of one creating the other. True happiness is a state of being. It comes from the freedom and peace created when we are happy with who we are. We can be unhappy with where we are AT in life at the time, yet still have the ability to carry happiness within our soul. For a happy soul, a free soul, a peaceful soul, is accepting of the unhappiness it encounters along the way. Acceptance is an awareness of “it is what it is” and “it is what it will become.” Acceptance is not bound to right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair, nor is it bound to should have, could have, or would have. Happiness comes from knowing the light of your own being, the freedom to trust in your own path, to be grateful for both the blessings and the hardships that come with living life. It is peace with YOUR journey, it is following YOUR  heart, it is trusting YOUR intuition.

Creating a state of happiness is about allowing yourself to make mistakes, admitting to yourself that you were wrong, facing your faults and making your amends. Being truly happy is about being grateful, being thankful, being humble, being mindful. it’s about an awareness of the magical moments, of the beautiful people, of the life lessons, of the awakening that comes by accepting and by facing and by surviving, all of the unhappy times our journey will require along the way. Happiness is an awareness of the joy of living, of the joy of loving, of the joy of showing gratitude for all of those blessings that guided us, that inspired us, that strengthened our resolve to continue trusting in OUR process, trusting in OUR journey, trusting in OUR knowledge, that OUR state of being happy has always been, will always be, open to us as we travel along our way.

If there is a general measurement of a happy person, a basic definition, what would it be? How does a happy person show you this happiness on the outside, and how do you know if what you are labeling as happy, couldn’t possibly be labeled as something else? If you ask a person if they are happy and they say yes they are, do you take their word for it? Do you allow their reassurance of happiness to overshadow all of those doubts that led you to asking the question in the first place? Do you find yourself repeating happyish sounding phrases like “I’ve had plenty my life to be upset about but I have found that being thankful changes the way I look at it,” or hear these happyish sounding phrases coming from someone else?

Or what about the people who are always sounding off their personal pep talks, their “I am working on myself and doing what is finally best for me! I am working on healthy relationships and making myself open to finding happiness again!” They are the ones who are always ready, always posting the RAH RAH GO ME I AM BRAVE LOOK AND SEE personal cheering statements on facebook. They publicly remind themselves that it is “worth waiting for,” that they will no longer “settle” for anything BUT the RIGHT thing, or the RIGHT man, or the RIGHT job, or the RIGHT relationship, or the RIGHT time, or the RIGHT day. Everything happyish thing they say is about WAITING for that something, that someone, that someway, that is “SURELY gonna come along” and appreciate them for who they are…and desire ALL of who they are…and ANYTHING less would be to “abbreviate myself and deny myself” and (say it with me now…or at least “like” my status or give me some validation with a comment or “share”) “I AM WORTH THE WAIT!” And the usual weekly shout out to a therapist or motivational guru comes next.

Does this kind of facebook profile sound familiar to you? Are you a member of one of these above mentioned validation focused personal pep rally’s? Or is there a self serving validation pep rally already in place thanks to you?

And you know what? Very few people can see through this these validation pep rallies and sense the desperation, sense the craving, sense the addiction, behind them, sense the overwhelming need for the world to give these people the kind of  validation and approval they seek, the kind of validation and approval which they have never been capable of (and most likely will never be capable of) giving to themselves.

These kinds of people fit that general definition of being happy, they have a happy qualifications resume, filled with accomplishments like a nice little house, and a nice little car, and a nice little I HELP PEOPLE VALIDATE THEMSELVES SO THEY CAN HELP VALIDATE ME profession, and a nice little organic healthy food cooking or animal advocacy kind of fight for a cause “passion” or hobby, and a long history of nice little past dysfunctional relationships that you are only made aware of due to the number of times they remind you I AM A BADASS SURVIVOR WHO IS NO LONGER GONNA SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS THAN WHAT I DESERVE which usually are accompanied by links to relationship and sex advice sites that support what they want to believe about themselves, or picture quotes about what true love looks like, or how enlightened they have become to now know what true love looks like thanks to the courageous and fearless waiting game they are now choosing to play.

They are READY and WILLING to wait as long as it takes, for the RIGHT person and the RIGHT relationship to come along, which they hope will validate the newly discovered YES I AM WORTHY daily rally cry they chant to themselves, and have written on post it notes all over their house and office space. And If the National Campaign for A BE GRATEFUL BE HAPPY AMERICA actually existed, and began posting their nationwide search for a spokesperson, with a featured writing spot in the inspirational we need donations monthly newsletter they send out, this type of person would be the perfect fit. And trust me when I say, that these kinds of people would be the very first to submit their Happy Qualifications and Why I am Grateful to Finally be Happy With Where I am AT in life journey essay, to the selection committee who would they would be CRAVING validating from.

And you know what?

These people are living a lie that gratitude for things equals happiness, yet they are the ones who are far from being happy with WHO they are. Instead, they are holding on to the validation that they are grateful to finally be happy with where they are AT, and they are consumed with creating the storyline, the audience, the self help self serving motivational speaker persona, of someone who appears to fit that general definition of “happiness” that everyone around them seems to agree with. It is a lie. They are lying to you…they are lying to themselves…and this self deception is going on around you, far more often than you may think.

I was inspired to write about this after reading a quote posted on a woman’s facebook page a week ago. This woman’s wall is packed with countless “sexiness I am badass look at me living my amazing life surrounded by all of my amazing things and all of my amazing friends and LOOK AT HOW GRATEFULLY HAPPY I AM FOR ALL OF THE WAYS I CAN VALIDATE MY SELF WORTHINESS AND LOOK AT THE GROWING LIST OF HAPPINESS QUALIFICATIONS I AM BUILDING FOR THE GRATITUDE = HAPPINESS STORYLINE I AM CONSUMED WITH CREATING FOR MYSELF AND “LOOK!” AT ALL OF THE PEOPLE I HAVE IN MY PERSONAL PEP RALLY CLUB WHICH VALIDATES THAT I AM GRATEFUL TO FINALLY BE HAPPY WITH WHERE I AM AT” photos and posts. I find it painful to imagine being in this woman’s “space,” having such an insatiable craving for the attention of others, which is needed to validate her own self worth. Among these photos and posts on her wall, there is a photo quotation shared from one of the many personal pep rally motivational websites or blog sites she subscribes to, and it goes like this:

“The most dangerous woman in the world, is the one who requires no validation from others.”

This quote is then followed by at least 10 or more “likes” from friends, and “HELL YA’s” and “YOU GO GIRL” comments, which she then quickly acknowledges and thanks all of her supporters for their praise. And I find myself feeling compassion for this woman, this woman who has been broken by the damage of loving another at the expense of loving herself. The woman who has no awareness of the hypocrisy in using social media as a constant source of “worthiness” validation from others. A woman who is desperate, lonely, craving, consumed, by her lifelong fear of never being good enough, never being ready enough, never being willing enough, never being brave enough, sexy enough, never being worthy enough in the eyes of others, as she is only capable to accept the kind of validation that comes from how she appears to them, the kind of validation that she is not capable of accepting for herself.

Over the past year and half, I have had to redefine my own sense of worthiness and my own state of happiness, and one thing I have come to realize throughout this painfully oftentimes humiliating and terrifying process, is that when my happiness had to depend on WHO I was, and could no longer be tied to where I was AT, my personal practice of gratitude completely changed. I found myself experiencing the most profound sense of what it means to be grateful. And the things that I found myself being the most grateful for, were the kinds of things that I would have never thought of only a year or two before.

My Happiness Qualifications resume would look to many, as the resume of someone who has none of the things that fit the general definition of what is means to be happy. Someone who must be VERY unhappy living a life void of the personal worthiness validations that come with all of those little things that everyone else seems to be told they should be grateful and happy about. Someone for whom they feel pity, for whom they feel sorry, for whom they feel a profound sense of gratitude to be nothing like, and a profound sense of happiness because of it. I have compassion for those who see their own sense of gratitude and happiness as superior to my own, and I allow them the freedom to believe as they do and to live their lives this way.

And then I say…

I have nothing. I have lost everything. I am to many, considered a “loser.” I have no real job, no father for my son, no relationship with no home of my own, no personal savings, no health insurance, no clear set 6 month, 1 year, or 5 year career life stability plan. In fact, for the first time in my life, I am bound only to a responsibility to myself, to my 3yr old son, to my kitty cat Yedders, and to both of my dogs Nikki and Dallas. Being bound to any responsibility or anything or anyone else, is now my choice. And because of this, who and what I choose to be bound to, choose to have a sense of responsibility to, has changed. By having nothing, I have gained everything, which to me…is the freedom to choose in which direction I want to live out the rest of my life.

At the age of 37, I am starting over from scratch. This new beginning has allowed me the precious gift to reinvent myself, to pursue my passion, to chase all of the lifelong dreams I had thought were dreams I had to let go. I have chosen not to not apply for a REAL job, have made the decision to not listen to criticism, who seem to believe that securing ANY job, is what would be best for me. I have been told I am a burden, I have had those I thought were close friends of mine, turn their backs on me and walk out of my life. But the room this allowed for others, has been the most precious gift of all. My way of seeing and seeking relationships has changed in ways one may not expect, and patterns of maintaining unhealthy connections, simply no longer exist. I find my sense of gratitude to be tenfold what it was only a short time ago. How I used defined my own personal worthiness and success, was created by the validation of others. How I define my own personal worthiness and success today, is created only by the validation of myself.

I am not waiting for the RIGHT anything to come along. I am not tied to the destination of my path. All that matters to me, is that my journey is my own, and my direction is right fior me. Am I happy to be living at home, the single mother of a 3yr old son, with no job, no money, no health insurance, no real “life” outside of my own? Nope. It is an often times humiliating and soul crushing place in life to be AT. Am I happy to be who I am? To have this chance of a lifetime to start over again? Yes. My state of happiness overwhelms me. My gratitude for the beautifully magical surreal life that I live, for the passionately curious way that I create, and for the people who still believe in me, these are what I am most thankful for.

I do not need the validation of anyone to live a live I love.

I am fearless. I am brave. I am powerful. I am infinite. I am love. I am passion. I am beauty.

I will share my story someday.

I will speak my truth.

I am blessed to be who I am.

~nj~

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