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I had a really interesting discussion with a client about how to lift her mood other than through instant gratification. An accomplished woman as well as someone who had used drugs in the past and was still using alcohol to boost her spirits and regulate her emotions, we were trying to figure out what would help her remain clean and sober.
I threw out some positive states of being and we talked about their nuances and how she could incorporate them into her life. I share them with you, so you can stop chasing amorphous happiness and start enjoying these emotions to improve it your life.
Joy aka delight and jubilation is not meant to be a lasting feeling. It’s a momentary ping that bubbles up in you on special occasions. It’s what you feeling when you’re doing an activity you love or when someone you adore shows up on your doorstep unexpectedly. It lifts you right up into the stratosphere, as you fill up with happiness.
Contentment aka fulfillment and ease of living means you feel fine with things just as they are. When we’re content there’s nothing we’d rather do and, though we know the feeling won’t last, we are grateful as long as it lasts. Contentment can happen by doing nothing or something. It’s the feeling that all’s right with the world.
Satisfaction aka having your expectations or wishes met can come from a job well done, not perfectly but to an acceptable level of sufficiency and accomplishment. It may occur after you clean the kitchen, finish a book, take a bike ride, or spend time teaching your child the alphabet. It’s a grand feeling that you’ve done what you intended.
Pride aka deep pleasure from your own achievement is a heady feeling. It fills you up with warmth toward yourself, tells you “I did good,” and makes you glow inside. You may be proud of mindfully eating a slice of chocolate cake at a work birthday party or declining it because you’re saving room in your tummy for ice cream after dinner. We want to carry pride with us everywhere we go.
Happiness includes all of the above. It’s an elevated mood that may last for a while. We can’t find it from seeking it as a goal per se, but by having sufficient pride, satisfaction, joy and contentment in our lives. By stringing these feelings together, we feel a sense of happiness. Not of course every minute of every day, but often enough to tip the scales to feeling reasonably bright, hopeful, upbeat and glad to be alive most of the time.
Make a practice of seeking pride, contentment, joy and satisfaction and you’ll be surprised how often happiness turns up on your doorstep.
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