Every day, I have the privilege of being brought into people’s lives in the most intimate ways. And there’s one theme that resounds over and over, regardless of age, race, gender, or whatever issues the person’s facing at the time: lack of appreciation. Whether someone’s unable to find love, feeling dissatisfaction with their career, having marital problems…whatever the issue, the focus on what’s wrong becomes so big that it infiltrates people’s emotional existence. They can’t seem to be happy about what’s going well in their lives.
The tricky part about therapy is this: While we need to explore the past in order to discover the psychological blocks that are preventing us from achieving our goals, we mustn’t get stuck in the problem. In other words, we must be able to work on our issues while simultaneously paying attention to the good in our lives.
Now, I’m not saying you need to feel Pollyanna happy all the time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I believe you have to feel the truth of what’s going on for you. So if you’re sad that you’re single and can’t find love, cry. Or if you have angst about a crummy boss, get angry. You need to genuinely experience these emotions so you can release them. Otherwise, they’ll sit inside of you and unknowingly contribute to what you’re unhappy about.
This is where spirituality comes in. I’m not saying you should stop pursuing your goals. I’m saying that if you get happy and appreciate where you are now, you’re clearing the way for the things you truly desire. Since positive energy breeds positive things in your life, focusing on joy will bring you more joy. This works the other way as well: If you focus on the problem, more of the problem will come.
Energy may be a new concept for some of you, so see if you can relate to this example: You wake up in a great mood. You had a great night, the sun is shining, and you like what you see when you look in the mirror. When you walk down the street, both men and women notice you. You feel on top of the world! The next day, you wake up in a bad mood and are feeling critical of yourself, even though everything’s the same as the day before: hair, face, weight, etc. When you walk down the street, no one notices you. Do you know what the difference is? YOUR ENERGY. It’s affecting everyone around you, whether you realize it or not.
Personally, I was given a great gift from my father: No matter what, I’ve always been able to get back to a set point of being happy by appreciating what I have versus what I don’t. With that said, when I’ve gone through challenging times in my life (and there have been many), I’ve found that these tools have helped to get me on the right track to feeling positive, and I hope they’ll help you:
1. Push yourself to change your thoughts. Our thoughts trigger our feelings, so negative thoughts will make us feel bad. Write a list of things you’re unhappy about. Next to each thing, write something you’re happy about. Every time you have the negative thought, immediately replace it with the positive one.
2. Practice mindful visualization. Once a day, sit quietly for a few minutes and think about what you’d like to bring into your life. Visualize and feel it as if it’s happening now. Feeling it is the key. Allow yourself to experience the emotion, because this is where the power lies.
3. During the last five minutes of your day-which are the most important because it’s where your thoughts seep into your subconscious-give yourself a daily reminder of what you’re grateful for. Some people may want to simply think these thoughts; others may want to write them down. Whatever works, do it!
I hope you’re better able to understand why letting yourself feel your emotions will help to release them, thus making room for joy and appreciation to come your way. This is a lifetime practice of keeping yourself open so you’re able to fully enjoy your life, so be patient and know that things won’t change in an instant. Just remember: By focusing on the good in your life, you’ll only allow room for more good to come in.