Monday 9 June 2014

How to Hold Onto Happiness: A Beginner's Guide


Here's a funny thing: sometimes excitement and distress can feel interchangeable. Picture the face of a clock; you know how one minute it's 11:59, and the next time you look, it's 12:01? Right in the middle is that elusive thing we call midnight. It is that one perfectly balanced minute between one day and the next. Tip the minute hand back a notch, and it's yesterday; tip it forward, and we're into tomorrow. Sometimes that's how excitement works too--except picture 'yesterday' as mounting joy, and 'tomorrow' as distress. When the adrenaline gets flowing and we're caught up in a moment, we can sometimes tip from joy right over to distress. Usually it manifests as worry, panic, fear, or pessimism. The thing is, the only difference between joy and anxiety is our state of mind; all the same chemicals are churning, so it's really just all about how your head is processing the moment.

I'm telling you all this because I want to give you an important piece of advice:

Do not fear happiness.

Your brain is full of all the shit times when happiness was inevitably followed by that turning over of the clock, down into disappointment or betrayal or loss, or something else uncomfortable. The more life kicks us in the groin, the easier it seems to become to just tip straight from 11:59 right on over to 12:01. You know the feeling: in one breath you're enjoying the moment, and in the next a dozen skeptical monkeys are chattering away in your head. Next thing you know, the tingly sunshiney feeling in your chest has been replaced with the itching, squeezy feeling of stress.

The trick is to suspend your doubts and demons. Even if it's just for that minute, that elusive 'midnight' moment.

Because happiness is brilliant, I'm telling you. It's like sunlight and warm ocean and birthday cake and puppies, but all in your chest and head. It comes to you, no strings attached, and invites you to feel again, the way you did before the world showed you the other, darker side.

I'm discovering that, if you really work at it--if you silence your mind and hug yourself to the moment--it may be possible not only to appreciate that 'midnight' moment, but maybe it's even possible to stop the clock. Maybe just for a day, or an hour; I don't know. But you'll never stop the clock if you're afraid.

Do not fear happiness. Stay with it. Don't look for the fire exit, don't scramble for a Plan B. Just...soak it in.

You deserve it. This minute, balanced between yesterday and tomorrow, is yours.

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