Many people spend their lives running. And no, not the marathon kind. We spend so much time and energy running away from who we really are, what we really feel and what we really want to do. We distract ourselves with our iPhones the instant we have a moment of open space. We keep ourselves busy busy busy in order to avoid too much quiet time where our thoughts can get the better of us. Some of us run to substance abuse. Some of us run to addiction. Some of us form disorders with unhealthy coping mechanisms that we think are keeping us safe from the discomforts of life. Or some of us just neglect our desires and settle for “comfortable.” We each find our own ways to run away from the realities we believe we do not want to face.
But what if we created a life for ourselves that we simply did not want to run away from??
What would that life of yours look like?
When we are engrossed in our passions – in daily activities or work that genuinely energize us – when we make it a priority to fill our days with things that replenish our souls and make us feel light… then these urges to run away and distract and avoid simply drift away. Eventually, the strength of this life you have created for yourself overrules the habitual tendencies you once had in order to run away and avoid discomfort. Those coping strategies just won’t feel as important. Because they simply won’t be needed.
But how do we create this life for ourselves??
What does that life of yours look like? Are you living it? Or is it still a “I’ll be happy when….”
This past winter, I had a friend attend the Snowflake Yoga Festival in Winnipeg, MB, where Tracy Hutton gave a talk on finding happiness. My friend shared with me some questions she posed to her listeners:
I found the wording of these questions to be very interesting. It is our personal responsibility to find happiness. Of course, relationships and being with others can have a huge part of getting there, but it is still our responsibility to seek out and accept those connections. Everyone will have very different and unique things that make them happy. It is our own responsibility to own these things.
These questions also reiterated to me the fact that happiness doesn’t actually come in big shiny, million dollar cruises and successful career briefcases. It is more so the collection of small, daily gifts to ourselves. Little moments or activities that we let ourselves have on a daily or weekly basis because we know how much more at peace we feel with them.
As said by others before, recovery is very much about discovery. It is about both returning to past activities that once made us happy, but also finding and accepting new ones. I know that when I engulf my day in activities that feed my soul, I do not feel the anxiety, anger or disembodiment which leads to unhealthy urges and unhealthy coping mechanism. When I am acting – my biggest passion – literally nothing else matters. It is seriously that powerful. As corny as that sounds.
Now at the beginning, you may not always feel happy doing these things (which seems counterintuitive, I know). It can be very hard to let yourself fill your days with these activities you know you enjoy if you are used to less compassionate coping distractions. While in the midst of recovery, letting yourself do these things may bring up feelings of grief and sadness…. but… even in these feelings, you no longer want to run away. The anxiety and anger gets replaced with something softer. The urge to escape, distract, avoid and run away disappears.
It truly is about creating a life you do not want to run away from.
Last week I made a list for myself. A simple list with only 6 words on it:
These 6 words stand for my weekly goals. Each week, I want to incorporate each of these parts of my life at least once. If I don’t get them all in, that’s okay. But I’d like to try.
Music: get out my ukulele, my guitar, sing, play the piano
Movement: move my body how it wants to move; dance, go to yoga, go for a walk or hike
Meditation: go to yoga, spend extra time in shavasana, take my own time in the morning to breathe
Social: go out and be with other people
School: start on the work I have to do for my final year at the academy, start my script writing, read my plays
Outside: just be outside
Some of these things may not feel too great in the moment. I may wish I was doing something more “productive” or active, but I know… I know… these are the things in my life that make me, Cora, truly happy. Not that person I’ve been running away to try and be. These are the things that feed my soul and make all those urges to self harm, punish, control and push go away. Because they bring me back to myself. …Which can be a painful experience. After all, the longer you’ve been running, the more tired you are to make the trek back to the starting line. It will take effort. It will literally take creation, crafting, and with that, a lot of persistence. But by having a goal to incorporate each of these things into each day and each week, I am working to create a life I no longer want to run away from.It's about creating a life you do not want to run away from. #happiness #recovery #goals #compassion Click To Tweet
Thanks, Amanda, for the help in Thinking Out Loud.
What are three things you need in your life to be happy? What would be on your list?
If you took full responsibility for your happiness, what one thing would you do every day? Each week?
I encourage you to think about Tracy’s questions and maybe do a little journaling for yourself this weekend.
Not a hugely exciting week. But I did get a few nice things…