Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Feeling It All

There is a story that Glennon Doyle tells in Untamed. She is at her first AA meeting and talking to a veteran 12-stepper, who says something that stuns her. "Feelings are for feeling," the sage says. "All of them. Even the hard ones."
It's an inflection point for Doyle who had, to that point, spent her life trying to be pleasing to others. To look right, to act right, to feel right. Happy was the goal, for herself and others. And yet...she felt all these other feelings too so what was she doing wrong?
Nothing, according to this woman. "Feelings are for feeling. All of them."
We are a culture that pursues happiness the way my cats pursue a beam of sunshine. Relentlessly. Only stopping for a moment when we've found it and then realizing we're about to lose it again.
We don't want those other feelings. They get in the way. We want happiness, all the time. 24/7. We'll settle for contentment, periodically. But mostly we want that pure bliss. And we're told we can achieve it, like it's something for sale in a store window if only we know where to look or who to ask.
It's a lie. The whole Industrial Happiness Complex is a total lie built by capitalism to make us constantly hungry for it, constantly striving for it. 
It's not that happiness isn't possible, of course. It is. It's just that a happy life isn't possible. Feelings are for feeling. All of them. Even the hard ones. And those hards ones will inevitably show up in anyone's life. No matter how hard we try to avoid them. No matter how high we've build the fortress against them.
And that's the thing that we don't hear about. How surviving those hard feelings makes happiness so much sweeter when we ultimately do get a taste.
My son and I are taking an online course right now. It's Yale University's most popular course and it's offered for free right now. It's about how to be happy. My son and I are only in Week Two but we've already learned that the things that we believe – that we've been told or rather sold – will make us happy not only don't make us happy, some actually make us less happy than we were. Among these things that don't make us happier are:
•weight loss
•plastic surgery
•stuff – clothes, jewellery, cars, houses, etc.
But most of us know that by now, don't we? We've learned that while that great purse might give us a momentary burst of happiness, it's pretty short-lived. By the time the VISA statement arrives and we have to pay for it, the purchase itself likely offers us no happiness at all anymore. 
But it's not all bad news. There are things we can do to contribute to our happiness. Not 24/7. But sometimes. The way happiness is meant to be experienced. It's a feeling, not a state of being.
And one of the main ways to generate more happiness in your life is:
•gratitude/savoring – science tells us that taking note of and thinking about the things we're grateful for contribute to a greater sense of happiness. As hokey as they sound, gratitude journals work. Sometimes you might only feel able to be grateful that you're still breathing. That you haven't murdered your spouse. That you stayed off the OW's social media. It still counts.
But remember that you'll feel all those other feelings too. Especially right now, when your world feels upside down. Especially, when things feel so uncertain. 
But you won't always feel so unhappy, just like nobody always feels happy.
Feelings are for feeling. All of them. Even the hard ones.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I absoloutely love this! It’s all so true. Thanks Elle!



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