What makes you happy? Is it the accumulation of material things, financial prosperity, the smile of a baby, time spent with your family? Think about this deeply, beyond your physical presence, down into your heart. What is happiness for you? In my book, Kryptonite Killed Superwoman: Trading in the Cape for an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Life, I feature an article called “Happiness is a State of Mind, But So is Unhappiness.” What I have come to realize is that the idea – the manifestation of happiness – is connected to one’s ability to surrender. Surrender. What does that mean, you ask? Stay with me, please.
As a literature teacher, I challenge my students to look beyond the words on the page – search for the deeper meaning behind the words. In short, many of us are unhappy – physically, spiritually, and emotionally – because we refuse to resist the need to control the situation, our attitudes, and our reactions to events or persons. We want to win the argument so that no one will think we are weak; we stand our ground in the face of truth because we simply cannot be wrong. We nag our spouses/partners because, without us, they’d be lost – they’d never get anything right. We resist the voice that tells us to “let it go.” Why? Because we are deeply afraid, and we – our ego – thrive on drama. “Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength” (Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now, 127).
Here are three ways to access authentic happiness:
1. If you want authentic happiness – deep, soul-stirring joy – if you want physical well-being, surrender to the resistance, the fear. Decide today to create your happiness by understanding that to react to the drama – to feed off of negativity – binds you to pain – to the perpetual cycle of emotional and physical illness. Nothing bad will happen to you if you surrender to love and joy. You will not die, crumble or even break. Your household will not dissolve. If your spouse does leave, truthfully, what have you truly lost? This is the chance to practice your faith. Let’s try today to surrender. Let go of your need to win, to control, to overthink. Just BE … today.
2. Build a personal, spiritual network of 3-5 people – male or female – with whom you feel comfortable calling upon in those dark hours when you are not sure you are going to make it. Let’s not play games here. We ALL have those kinds of days; it’s what makes us human. But as women, in particular, we need one another. We are nurturing, community–centered people, and in understanding and acknowledging this, we are better able to heal and grow if we have a core group of trustworthy, faith-driven people to whom one can go for not only advice but to put us back on straight and narrow when we have so clearly strayed. And they will do this because they have been there, and they know that sometimes, we do have not the strength to pray for ourselves. That’s why I call this network The Crying Angel Network.
3. Create a sacred, quiet space for yourself. Sometimes we have to shut out the noise of the world in order to hear even our own selves speak. Establish a small amount of time in the morning before the kids and hubby get up to go into that space – for me, it’s my walk-in closet – and sit in silence. Just focus on breathing, letting go of all thoughts and ideas. Quietness in our minds and bodies reconnects us to our core, and in doing so, we are better able to tackle the day with a better attitude and sense of purpose.
No one can live your life for you, and you only get one chance at it. Happiness is not a material thing, but a spiritual practice – a clear perspective. They say it takes 30 days to start a habit – good or bad. I challenge you, therefore, to try these three tips – strategies, rather – to accessing authentic happiness. You have absolutely nothing to lose, but much to gain.
Rebekah L. Pierce is the author of Kryptonite Killed Superwoman: Turning in the Cape for an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Life. She is also an inspirational speaker and playwright residing in Richmond, Virginia.