It’s an interesting question, though. Do even the experts- the happiness gurus- the paragons of positive living, have negative emotions? Are they allowed to feel down? And if so, does that mean that all this positive living is just codswallop?
When I asked Professor Timothy Sharp (AKA Dr Happy from the Happiness Institute) his thoughts on the issue, he agreed with the sentiments of the Dalai Lama.
“It would be totally abnormal to feel "happy" and "positive" all the time” says Tim “The flip side of this is that it's completely normal to experience the full range of human emotions including sadness and depression, fear and anxiety, frustration and anger, and more. Rather than fighting or trying to deny these emotions we should, instead, accept them and deal with them as best we can.”
This comes as a relief to most of us, I’m sure. I’ve had to face these kinds of questions on a number of occasions.
In July last year, for example, we’d just returned from a holiday around the UK and Europe where the summer was putting on a spectacular show (think green lush fields freckled with white daisies, fat bumble bees, cottage flowers, picnics with French loaves, cheese and wine and a heap of friends and lovely relatives to play with). Home was cold, grey and the days were short. We had no holiday to look forward to and a tetchy 12 month old whose night -time antics were so crazed that we dubbed him “the rabid possum”. Throw into the mix the ongoing disappointment of not being pregnant , month after month (although goodness knows why we wanted another one given our current crazed toddler) and you have a pretty trying formula for keeping your chin up.
To make matters worse, I had an additional title to keep up, the Resilience Expert. I was meant to be good at this stuff! And what I really felt like doing was huddling in bed eating my own body weight in sugar infused foods and whining.
However, looking back to that time and space from where I am now (wonderfully happy again) I realize that it was persisting in the tiny happiness inducing routines that helped me keep my head above water. Even when I really, really didn’t want to, I :
- made myself walk to the shops. I did this by purposefully not buying bread and milk so that I would run out.
- Kept up my project of posting something I was grateful for per day on my Facebook which meant taking a camera and looking for cool things to post when I went out of the house
- Also kept up our household tradition of mentioning three highlights of the day at dinnertime
- Rang, emailed and contacted friends and family
- Ate fresh fruit and vegies.
- Cooked food and managing to not just eat cereal three meals a day.
- Picked up rubbish as I walked around
- Kept up the self- talk “You can do this. Everything is fine, really. Come on, just a little bit further” and so on.
- Remembered to keep shoulders back, make eye contact with people, pass out compliments and smile.
Part of what made it easier for me to do these things is that I’d been doing them long enough to make them habits. It’s important not to let these habits slip when you are struggling. As Tim says
“That's real happiness; making the most of the good times and getting through the tough times.”
For my next blog, I’ll be engaging in an experiment- 100 days of happiness. I hope you’ll join me.
To follow Ingrid on twitter http://twitter.com/ingridpoulson
To follow Professor Timothy Sharp on twitter http://twitter.com/drhappy
To find out more about Ingrid’s training see www.steadfasttraining.com.au
To find out more about the Happiness Institute see www.thehappinessinstitute.com
*www.dalailama.com › Messages › Transcripts