One of my very favorite mentors, Tara Brach, did a lovely talk this year on chasing happiness titled Getting Off the Hamster-Wheel of "Never Enough". Listening to it reminded me how easy it can be to slip back into unhealthy mental habits when we are constantly surrounded by external triggers that hijack our contentment: daunting to-do lists, political unease, challenging coworkers, climate change ignorance, social media aggrandizing, or ads that implore us to buy stuff we mostly don't need. The list seems never-ending.
Tara sums it up well: "We live in an innocent misunderstanding of what will bring us happiness. We latch onto substitutes, false refuges. We're in the habit of latching onto them." This if-only thinking is common in our modern culture. From a young age, we are sold this notion that achievement will bring us admiration, satisfaction, promotions, money, or success. "If-only ___, I would be happy," is the tune we replay in our minds. This is not to say that setting goals and attaining them isn't important. It is for sure. But, attaching our inner contentment to their achievement is where many of us can get stuck. Approval seeking and busyness are such traps to true happiness.
I am grateful for Tara's reminder question: "What would have to happen for you to be enough?" How would you know that?
What happens to us when we're perpetually focused on filling up our worthiness buckets? Our energy certainly becomes depleted. And our bucket? An unstoppable slow leak. But, most of all, self-worth attached to accomplishment or some future event prevents us from feeling the innate worthiness with which we are born. It sidetracks us down a path of misery and dissatisfaction instead of contentment.
So, today I invite you to join me in both allowing achievement of positive life goals, AND also welcoming happiness that burns deeper, like a pilot light glowing beneath the surface of all that we do, and all that we are. I suspect this practice will gift us the freedom we could all use a bit more of these days.
Certified Health and Lifestyle Coach, Sheryl Melanson, partners with people to transform limiting habits into mindful choices that express their values, create action plans and recalibrate their lifestyle to optimal well-being.