Don't Stand in the Way of Your Own Happiness

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 3:04 PM

Happiness is a difficult concept for most people. Many see it as a point in one’s life where all the pieces come together and fit, just right. Others look for it in material objects. “When I get that next promotion, new car, IT bag…then I’ll be happy.” For others still, it is very elusive and they may even believe that they have no right to be happy. “Oh, I blew it while I was young, guess I’ll be paying for that mistake for the rest of my life” or “Happiness is just for kids, it doesn’t matter for adults.” I firmly believe that happiness is an essential part of a healthy life. The trick is to understand what you are doing that gets in the way of your own happiness.

The simple truth is that many of us waste valuable time, energy, and mental space on two things: past behaviors that don’t matter anymore and stuff we have no control over. For example, I have worked with a client who carried bitter feelings about his junior high school classmates for over fifty years. This person has convinced himself that everyone else was ‘perfect’ and that since he had acne, he could not make any friends. I am sure that if he were to run into any of his former classmates, he would find more similarities rather than differences. However, he assumes that they all are having ‘perfect’ lives in contrast to him, and he becomes frustrated and angry about his current situation. First of all, whatever happened in junior high school is long gone, and needs to be put to rest. Secondly, there is nothing he can do about the past. He cannot change who he was back then or anyone else’s actions toward him.

So, what is a person to do when they have memories of being hurt or disappointed by others? What if you are the one who caused the hurt and you can’t forget about it? The first step is forgiveness. It’s an old idea, I know, but one that is more needed than ever today. I see many people who let opportunities for happiness slip through their fingers because they are unwillingly to forgive others or believe that they do not deserve forgiveness. It is clear that many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is really about. Recently, I heard a wonderful explanation of how important forgiveness is: having an unforgiving spirit is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. When we hold on to things that damage our very souls, we are only hurting ourselves more. The solution is to learn to let go, rather than continuing to carry the burden of our hurt feelings and disappointments. Letting go is essential, because too many of us are being weighed down by the garbage that we try to stuff down, such as resentment, anger, and sadness. That is like drinking the poison, again and again. It only hurts you. It takes strength to release the pain, not letting it take root in our hearts and souls.

Some people mistakenly think that they won’t or can’t forgive until the offending party makes some effort. That sounds reasonable, but what if they never say “I’m sorry”? What if the person you hurt you is no longer living? You don’t need to carry that burden any longer. But, you have to be willing to let it go. I teach my clients that forgiveness is for their own benefit, the other person need not be involved. Forgive for you, not for them.

Now, if you are having trouble forgiving yourself for something you have done, think on this: are you putting yourself above Almighty GOD? If He is willing to forgive you, who are you to say “No, I don’t deserve it”? When we look at life from this perspective, it takes a lot of the burden off you and me. Don’t let bitterness and a lack of forgiveness stand in the way of your own happiness. Practice letting go of whatever has been weighing you down. Pour out forgiveness on others and yourself, and you will be closer to finding the secret of happiness in your own life.