Why It’s So Hard to be Happy

If you want to overcome depression, lose weight, or break the bad habit you have of dating emotionally unavailable men, then you have to learn how to let yourself be happy. It’s not a matter of learning what you need. Everyone knows it’s a good idea to spend time with friends, eat healthy foods, and surround themselves with people who are kind, and yet, it’s so easy to self-sabotage, or not make good choices.

You want to break your negative patterns, but it’s like a demon takes over your mind, and you just can’t stop making crappy decisions. You continue to stress, spend money frivolously, invite drama into your life, and criticize yourself all throughout the day.

So, here’s the million dollar question: Why is it so damn hard to be happy?

You Are in a Constant State of Conflict

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There are two of you: your personality self (or in other words, your ego) and your Spirit. Your personality self is the culminating set of ideas you picked up from childhood (you formed ideas about relationships based on your dysfunctional family, you witnessed violence, were the victim of trauma, etc.).

Your ego is the part of you that identifies as a body - a gender, race, and complete life story. Your ego has a political affiliation, as well as all sorts of preferences and judgments. I like the summer. I only listen to folk music. I would never live there. What’s she wearing? He’s a real jerk! Your ego is the voice in your head that never stops going.

It’s constantly seeking things, people, and situations that can make it happy, but it can never find happiness. It tells you that you’ll be happy when you get a new car, and you are for a few days, but soon enough, your neighbor makes a rude comment, and just like that, you’re upset again. It’s rooted in guilt, fear, and separation. It tells you that you’re not good enough to apply for that job, you need to lose weight, and you’re getting old.

Your ego is an asshole.

Now, even though your ego likes to tell you to buy another shirt that you don’t need, or that you’re too wrinkly to find a partner, you shouldn’t berate your ego or feel guilty for having one. I like to look at my ego like a sweet child. She’s gone through a lot of stuff, and she has persevered through many difficult situations. Yet, I can feel her throw a tantrum, get moody, and go off on tangents about how this person should behave differently, or about how life would get better if only she lived on the west coast. My ego is doing the best she can, but if I listen to her every minute of the day, I’ll never be happy. I’ll self-sabotage, complain, and pick fights with my partner. I’ll listen to her when she is feeling prideful, instead of apologizing, and I won’t go for that opportunity because I’m scared, instead of following my dreams.

The Light of Your Soul

Your Spirit, or Soul, is the part of you that is rooted in love. She doesn’t complain, and she doesn’t need anything to be happy. She is grounded in the peace and love of God. In any moment, you can view the present moment through the eyes of your ego, or through the eyes of your Soul. When you are aligned and present, you respond differently to situations, and you feel a great sense of peace, oneness, and joy. 

A Course in Miracles says, “The ego is a contradiction. Man’s self and God’s Self are in opposition.They are opposed in creation, in will, and outcome.” Let these words settle in. You have one part of you that wants to beat you up, pinch at your belly fat, and behave like a spoiled brat when your partner doesn’t do the dishes. You have another part of you that is peaceful, kind, and only wants to extend love to others.

You can only be happy when you recognize when you are listening to your ego, your personality-self, and make a choice, instead, to listen to your Soul.

The ego can only perceive separation (that person over there is bothering me!). It constantly thinks about itself, because it is so narcissistic. (I have nothing to wear. I can’t believe the gym is closed today. What jerks. How dare she say that to me?). The Soul has an aerial view; it does not perceive life, rather, it knows only unity-consciousness, oneness, and love. Your soul is eternally peaceful.

To Be Happy, Let Go of Your Ego

A Course in Miracles says, “The ultimate reason why learning is perceived as frightening is because learning does lead to the relinquishment (not destruction) of the ego to the light of the soul.” What this means is it can feel hard to be happy, because your ego is constantly clinging to its point of view, its sense of separation and righteousness.

Imagine you had a rough day at work. You’re annoyed at your boss, and when you get home, you find comfort in eating junk food, while going over and over in your mind just how wrong she is! In order to feel peaceful, you will have to, quite literally, relinquish your need to be right and make a decision to perceive things differently.

This is what it looks like:

Ego: My boss is a real jerk.

Soul: I know, honey. All is well. Take a breath.

Ego: But did you hear what she said! She’s so stubborn! How is she in charge of the company?

Soul: I get it. Try to be present. In this moment, you’re safe in bed. Nothing is wrong. Focus on something beautiful. Your mom sent you a sweet text.

Ego: How can I be happy when I have a jerk for a boss? Who does she think she is!?!

Soul: Feel how soft your bed is. You just ate a delicious dinner. Feel how nice the food feels in your belly. Feel the cool breeze on your neck. Relax. There’s nothing that you need to do right now.

Ego: Yeah, those things are nice, but back to my boss…

It feels like you have to give something up when you choose Spirit. It feels like a loss, and it induces fear, but the truth is, that it is the only path to joy. “The ego is afraid of the Soul’s joy, because, once you have experienced it, you will withdraw all protection from the ego and become totally without investment in fear,” says A Course in Miracles.

You want to cling to your ideas. You want to be right. You think you deserve better. Life isn’t fair. Where are all the good men? If only your partner would be different, then you could be happy. Why is your mother so annoying? All of these ideas that you hold keep you from joy, and when you decide that you’re ready to experience true peace, it will feel uncomfortable, because part of you will want to cling to your fearful thoughts.

Here’s the good news: With just a little bit of willingness, you can break your patterns. You can choose to align with Spirit, even when it feels hard. Learn how to recognize the voice of fear, and choose love instead. Decide that you are more committed to being happy than being right. Let go of your ego, and discover your Spirit. This is the only real path to happiness.

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Hi, I’m Jessie! I’ve written about mindful dating, spiritual partnership & awakening for Elephant Journal & Thought Catalog. I’m also a featured blogger on the dating site YourTango. I can help you remove your blocks to love, heal your relationship, or become more confident. Set up a 1-hour coaching session (more about that here).