Happiness is a choice. Sometimes though, choosing it is not that easy especially when one has gotten used to being lonely. When there are just so much wounds to heal and more than enough bad memories to bury, finding joy can be quite a challenge.
These thoughts were plaguing my confused mind again. And no matter how hard I try to remind myself that “I am totally, completely, and perfectly loved” the words somehow lost its significance – which is a sad thing as well.
So the fight began again, the fight against all those ugly feelings and thoughts wandering in my head. And while this mental battle was on, an uninvited thought presented itself to me. Why not look for the article you wanted to read this morning in school? So I did and surprisingly I somehow found a treasure of help.
Title – Why I had to go through my Pain? Writer – Bo Sanchez. Talk about good timing. 🙂 Using this I got to know a woman preacher named Joyce Meyer. I discovered her struggles which led her to many years of loneliness. But the inspiring part there is that just like Bo, she emerged victorious in the end. She didn’t let painful episodes of abuse from her own father get in the way for her to succeed and to serve. She even mustered enough strength and courage to forgive. Yes beauty has risen from chaos! Interestingly, while her story amazed me I allowed myself to swim in the pool of great possibilities. Now with little excitement running in my head, I tried so hard to filter through my memory and search for even just one moment when I personally witnessed something glorious coming from a complete disaster. After some minutes of trying, this is what I found.
These pictures were taken a few years back (in the year 2009 if I’m not mistaken). This is something very special to me and I’ll forever thank Teacher Isbel for bringing us to this wonderful place. This is the summit crater lake of Mount Pinatubo which is located near the boundaries of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales provinces. It was formed after its climactic eruption on June 15, 1991 which wreaked serious havoc to many people residing near the area. In those times, hope was nowhere to be found but then after many years, the very same thing that caused them pain and suffering is giving them a sense of pride and profit as well with the flock of tourists wanting to get a glimpse of its grandness. Seeing this astounding work of nature with my very own eyes brought too much joy to me. Never mind the long walk, the sun and its royal hotness, the dust, the sweat dripping profusely on our faces, the price is worth the climb. I could almost see and feel God’s hands. 🙂
And so gradually I began to realize that we actually have the skills to win over depression or any other sad memories pushing its way into our system. But then we have to try really hard. In some occasions, there’s even this kind of unhappy feeling that can hit you so bad you can almost touch it. It also has its way of affecting you physically so you just tend to feel lazy, wanting not to do anything other than to engage in a mental note of all the sad events that took place and even play it repeatedly in your mind.
These are some of the things I found useful to do or maybe wise not to do when down and feeling gloomy. It’s worked for me (and is still working) and you might want to try it, too.
1. Identify its roots. Recall the events that took place before you started feeling down. Writing them down helps a lot. Try to get a picture of how your day was spent. Who were the people you talked to? What did they tell you? At the very bottom if you dig some more, you will realize that there’s something that set it off. And the events that followed merely supported or worst highlighted that thing which started it. It’s never random at all.
2. Don’t wallow. Once you learned the cause, reverse the exercise. Make black white. Or maybe red, yellow, pink? This time catalogue all happy thoughts you can think of. No matter how bad your day has been, surely you can come up with a few simple things that somehow made you manage to give even just a faint smile. A cute baby seated next to you, a text from a friend, a compliment given randomly, a good meal maybe. Focus on that, and allow it to grow. Before you know it, a few more happy parts will be added to your picture. Be thankful for those simple joys you witnessed or experienced.
3. Find a creative outlet. Turn this negative energy into a positive energy. Squeeze all the creative juice in you. Draw a picture, play an instrument, sing, cook, eat if that’s creative enough for you. Get your mind busy with other things. Make yourself productive. I remember an art class I took when still in college. I learned about Picasso and his “Blue Period. ” From 1901 up to 1904, he produced essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. His works depicted melancholy using models who were somber and cheerless. All these reflected the depression he underwent due to some sad events in his life including the death of his friend. During those years, he had a hard time selling his paintings because it did not command much interest and excitement from the crowd. These days, however, the very same paintings were among his popular works.
It’s also good to know that this lonely period ended with the coming of more optimistic and vibrant masterpieces. The “Rose Period” began and from 1904 onwards, Picasso’s dark and downbeat colors were replaced by dazzling and vibrant hues together with happy subjects. So let’s take comfort in knowing that doleful phases in our lives also have expiry date. But then again it requires effort on our side.
4. Do something active. Studies show there’s a link between physical activity and feeling happy. Exercise promotes happiness and has an anti-depressant effect. It activates a special part in the brain that produces endorphin, the hormone which block pain and responsible in giving us feelings of pressure as well. So lace up your shoes even when you’re feeling down. Go for a walk or run around, drop by the gym, be happy and healthy at the same time.
5. Don’t stay inside your room. If you can’t help it, don’t lock your door. When we’re isolated, the more we feel depressed, the more we think we’re alone and unloved. Let others see you. Allow them to help you. Underneath all these ugly feelings is a person crying to be understood and to feel loved. Also, there’s an added pressure to fight sadness when you see people looking at you. The scary part with confined rooms is that the walls may whisper something bad to you – a shortcut to finding that evasive happiness??? a second rate version of happiness??? There are many destructive things you can try when no one is watching. These thoughts you shouldn’t entertain. They will only give you temporary fix. Leave your house if you must. This way, you see other things and other people and they’re all moving. You remove the attention from yourself and from your feelings. Let the surroundings entertain you.
6. Don’t open Facebook. Now this may sound weird. Sometimes no matter how much you wish to feel happy for others, you just can’t do it because you don’t have the happiness they have. While pictures of friends, relatives, and other familiar faces are proudly displayed on your wall with their big smiles that call for a celebration, you may start wondering how come they’re happy and you’re not. Instead of sharing their joy, you began to envy it. And the more you start feeling depressed because their happiness highlights your sadness.
7. Find good role models. Search for people who’ve been through the same situation and were able to turn their lives around. Let their stories inspire you. I remember one thing Brother Bo said in one of the Feast sessions. “If you don’t see good people around you, then you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd.” I was stunned. It makes sense actually. Look for good people, successful people, positive people. Widen your search and don’t just settle. If you can’t find real people just yet, then use the Internet. Read books, watch movies, listen to some talks. Don’t give in to the idea that you’re a victim of poor circumstance and bad people.
8. Journal your feeling. Write everything, the triggers and also the solutions if you’re able to help yourself. This can be of aid to you. Use this to study your patterns. What situations usually make you sad? Can you move away from them? Are there people pushing some painful buttons in you? Are there vampires sucking the joy in you? Is there a way for you to avoid them? Your journal will help you get to know yourself and your issues.
9. Talk to someone. Pour out your emotions. There’s someone out there who’ll find the time to listen. Join groups and engage in conversations. If your loneliness is too much to bear, then it’s time to seek professional help. Accept the fact that you can’t deal with it on your own just yet. That will not make you lesser of a person. If all else fails, remember there is always someone up there ready to listen. Talk to Him in prayers. Write a letter for Him if you can. Listen to the words He will tell You. You may not understand it at the moment but then in His own time you’ll make sense of it all. Pain is there for a reason. Loneliness is telling us something so just keep hoping. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Deuteronomy 31:6
Happiness is a choice but more than that it’s a conquest. It’s a territory that has to be fought over and conquered. You don’t just wish it. You work hard to get it. It’s a conscious decision you make even when you’re in a mess or you have been in a real mess and the residue of which still runs in your veins. You consciously decide to turn the tides in favor of you and not against you. So let’s all strive to be happy. Every day is a gift. Open it with a smile even when tears are falling from your eyes! 🙂