Happiness Is Hard Work

JOY in Many Flavors by teZa Lord

JOY in Many Flavors by teZa Lord

If anyone tells you it’s easy being happy, don’t believe them for a second. Behind every happy, sunny face is a person who has true dedication to maintaining that positive state. The people we hang out with, the words we use, even the food we eat all contribute to whether we’re mostly in a good or bad mood. Intending to be happy is where happiness truly begins.

Easiest Way to Be Happy

Wanting to be happy is where everyone who wishes to walk that road less traveled begins. There’s always a fork in every road. Yogi Berra’s famous line was goofily, “When you get to the fork in the road—take it!” That makes us all smile, no matter how many times we’ve heard it—but it’s unlikely that’s what he did.

He was known for not only record-setting home runners with a baseball bat, but also for uttering quaint homilies as if they were what everybody says instead of straight answers whenever he opened his mouth. I bet a hundred bucks that Yogi (who actually earned that nickname from sitting “yogi style” with crossed legs) made a conscious decision to stay on the bright side of a shadow, whenever he saw one.

We All Get to Choose Happiness

Whenever something happens, no matter how difficult, easy, simple, life-altering, or devastating—every human gets to choose how that certain something affects us. We all have feelings for a reason. Feelings are “signposts” to many of us who pay attention to our feelings. To others who don’t pay attention, feelings may be what rule their lives, and nothing more. But we who watch, and ask ourselves “How do I feel?” prefer it when we feel good. We know feeling “content” is a sign that what we’re doing is meant “to be.”

And vice versa. A bad feeling is a “warning.” Whenever I get an upsetting, out-of-kilter feeling about something I’m doing, I do a double, sometimes triple check to see if perhaps I’m not meant to be doing that. Sometimes, I have to deeply weigh my options, thinking things out—often, several times—before reaching a conclusion about what the “bad” could be telling me. Most times, when I listen to my feelings and make changes when needed, my life is happier.

Simply relying on our feelings isn’t usually enough, though. Sometimes our feelings give us, well, a “curve ball,” as long as we’re talking Yogi Berra ball talk.

Choose to Change to Happiness

Whenever I sense things are not “right,” if at all possible, I try to make an adjustment. If it’s not possible to make even a slight alteration, I take note that I’m deciding to maintain a steady state of acceptance, instead of dis-liking something immensely. Or giving in to the negative emotion of anger. Or waiting. Waiting is okay and even needed, but not with fear attached to the waiting. Being afraid of change is a pit that I know many fall into if they don’t watch themselves. Both anger and fear are extremely negative states, to be avoided.

One of the first ways I enacted the new awareness of working with my feelings (when I finally started noticing that was an option) was when I consciously decided to stop changing. Because, at one time, I was always changing as much as I could. Careers, friends, lovers, and locales changed as often as my next favorite alcoholic beverage. When I put down booze, that’s when I took up noticing how important my feelings are.

To stop changing took remarkable effort for me. The old fight or flight part of my brain was in charge of my life, back then. Now, I’m happy to say I take time—and make the effort to balance my feelings—being aware … of awareness! When my feelings tell me “It’s time to make a change,” I first stop to feel my feelings. Then I begin to have a conversation with them. Sometimes, I have to analyze why I feel the way I do. Even after making a pro-and-con list, sometimes I’m not sure my feelings are right. So I dig deeper. And then ….

I always end up listening to my feelings. Because I truly believe our feelings, including using our free will to hold whatever opinion “feels” right to us, is one of the greatest differences between us homo sapiens and the rest of the animal world we share this gorgeous planet with.


Read my audio book, “Zen Love,” to see how I use feelings to always steer my life toward more satisfying fulfillment, one action at a time.

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