If you’re allergic to dogs, happiness is not a warm puppy.
Metaphors about puppies, or anything else, are potentially dangerous. Even knowing where happiness — like any other emotion — occurs on the emotional spectrum doesn’t give the whole story. The only way to really know about someone else’s happiness is for you to ask and them to tell.
Thinking in deep and different ways about happiness isn’t easy. Here are some thoughts to get you started:
– Happiness has to withstand time, age like fine whiskey. Update your awareness: what made us happy then may not make us happy anymore.
– Time and distance are sweeteners; I always love those I love when I’m away from them. Be aware that both time and distance can be distorting while still sweet.
– Remembering happiness transports us to a happier time; look at the popularity of oldies music, or school reunions.
– Happiness can be a trickster. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, usually brought to you by distorted reality. We want happiness so much that remembering it can be larger than life.
– The “gift giver” doesn’t have to be animate and neither does the gift, like what what we derive from picturing daybreak in our mind’s eye, or watching sunrise in the moment.
– Giving happiness to someone else requires mindfulness and presence. For example, active listening to what your child, friend, partner says, and being heard yourself are monumental gifts.
– Happiness shows externally (an ear-to-ear smile) while its meaning remains internal.
– Your happiness is unique to you; no one else has ever been happy in that precise way.
– It’s personal; no one can tell you what makes you happy. Letting someone decide for you can turn happiness into unhappiness and resentment.
– It’s a singular moment in time, that’s the reason it stands out.
– Happiness can be bittersweet; like remembering past happiness that is no longer ours. The coin of happiness has another side; in some situations, there is no happy at all.
– Happiness can’t exist in a vacuum; and it can’t start there, either.
– Happiness is an active process; changing as we change, growing as we grow.
– Happiness is dynamic: the act of giving brings as much happiness as receiving. Happiness is an endless loop, where giving begets happiness that begets the receiver’s happiness that can lead to the receiver becoming the giver where each one is giving and receiving and so on and happily ever after.
Mostly, you need to know that your happy can never truly be anyone else’s. Sharing words and thoughts and then listening and hearing each other, that’s the only way any of us ever really know what makes someone else happy.
Kathe Skinner is a Colorado-based Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples work, especially those for whom invisible disabiliy is a player in their relationship. Lack of happiness and poor communication are the two biggest complaints that have couples seeking her help. She knows all too well that there are times happiness seems to be hiding under a rock. What brings her happiness? Her husband David, their 2 kitties, Petey and Lucy, the people who trust her as their therapist, and lying on a pool float looking up at a clear blue sky.
Read more about her at www.beingheardnow.com
Kathe welcomes your comments and can be reached at 719.598.6232.
©2014, Being Heard LLC
I’m a fine one to talk.
“All change implies the acceptance of loss” is the line I berate my coaching and psychotherapy clients with.
Loss of function with invisible disability carries with it more than just the loss of “being able to…” It’s how others’ attitudes might change. Or how communication in a relationship — married or not — is impacted.
Recently emailing with a colleague, another permutation appeared: “All loss implies the acceptance of change.”
These days, for me, that applies even more.Kathe Skinner is a psychotherapist and relationship coach living and working on Colorado’s Front Range. She has been courting acceptance of the changes in her life for most of this year. The results aren’t in.