I have a confession: I’ve been unhappy.
I tried to hide it from myself for so long. The roots of this were planted long ago. It’s a cautionary tale, and one I’ve learned a lot from. Hopefully you can, too.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
A couple years ago, as you probably know, I had an immense spiritual awakening. This was a confluence of many factors, the most important one of them the 40-day yoga practice that was the inspiration for my powerful program of transformation The Big Shift.
After years, more like a lifetime, of sadness, longing for meaning, longing for joy, longing to find my life purpose, an immense weight had lifted. I was free.
Free to explore without the heaviness of needing to know or find a life purpose. Free from the heaviness of needing my life to look a certain way before I could be happy. Free to be in the moment, full of gratitude for what was and hope for what could be.
As I reveled in this freedom, explored and tried on new identities, I gradually evolved towards one that felt immensely, wildly satisfying. Spiritual teacher. writer. Blogger. Course creator.
At first the joy of experimenting in this audacious new identity, one that frankly embarrassed me with its bravado but that inspired me to reach further, shatter the boundaries of my comfort zone and held space for me to become the woman I so desperately wanted to be.
But over time, these walls became confining.
This new role stopped being exciting and began to feel like a heavy responsibility.
I stopped creating for the pure joy of creating and started creating with an end in mind. I wanted to “teach” and not just express myself.
I was increasingly attached to an outcome, and worked ever more hours, harder, harder and harder to achieve it. And yet the more I strove, the further away these outcomes seemed.
The results not being were I wanted them to be, I started looking outside myself for answers. Reading other blogs and taking courses from people teaching me how to do what was once the most natural thing in the world — writing, connecting, creating, offering you myself with my whole heart.
Drifting, drifting, drifting.
The spiritual awakening I had experienced was SO powerful that it took a few years of living in this drudgery for it to finally catch up to me.
But it has. The other night, as I struggled once again to figure out how I could make things happen in a different way, I admitted something very difficult to myself: I am not happy.
And immediately, I felt peace.
Each chapter of our lives requires us to surrender and accept in a different way. We’re never where we want to be because every time we get “there,” we only find that reality is never as wonderful as the beauty of abstraction.
Things are never perfect, that’s how life is, and the balance of being a creative, passionate human is navigating that tension between deeply desiring more and being utterly grateful for what you have.
This journey isn’t about killing desire or shoving ourselves into a lifeless corner so we never ask for anything more. Instead, it’s about working with our natural tendencies, neutralizing those that tend toward self-sabotage and accenting the ones that nurture us more deeply.
A lot of times, the temptation is to ask the wrong question: “How can I get back to the person I used to be?”
But that person is gone and trying to reclaim that person or find her once again leads to struggle and discontent. Where there is struggle, there can never be peace.
The first step is to drop the struggle. Realize that it’s okay to struggle, and in that realization and acceptance, find peace.
A few spiritual teachers I follow talk about getting to a place where life is a happy dream. And I admit that image intoxicates me, creates within me the desire to achieve that effortless flow.
But then those same teachers, in their talks and books, talk about the struggle. Those parts of life that aren’t the happy dream.
While from a spiritual perspective, yes, we are at the core joyous beings, there is so much human stuff — thoughts, feelings, experiences — that block this natural flow of joy. These things are human stuff, but valid. Just because they diminish our natural joy doesn’t make them less real. Human stuff is as much a part of life as is the interludes of the happy dream.
I don’t believe peace and happiness come from denying the struggle. I also don’t believe in romanticizing the struggle. I did that for too many years and it kept me in a place of deep unhappiness. It led to me thinking happiness was shallow and that since I considered myself deep, then I could never be happy.
But I do believe in honoring the struggle.
It’s part of that duality. Honor the lightness, the joy, but also those chapters of in-between. Because that’s most of life, isn’t it? The in between.
We’re so quick to try and fix those parts of our lives that don’t work, but maybe if we just started from within, worked to create good habits that nurtured our hearts and souls, took time to appreciate the little things, and kept moving forward — not in a rush, but in a way that honors the flow — then things would feel good. Even when they’re not perfect.
I don’t need life to be a happy dream to be happy. If life has taught me anything, it’s that peace and happiness come from the ability to just find the good. Not from the sense of ignoring the bad, but recognizing that every moment contains both good and bad and consciously choosing to look at it all through the lens of love, the lens of the higher self.
Above all, we have to keep moving forward. Wanting to reclaim what’s lost is a great way to stay wandering and stuck and feeling not good enough.
We have to accept where we are, honor what within our lives sent us off track and then seek to create better habits. A stronger container for our spirits to thrive.
This will encourage happiness, but it’s not about reclaiming what was lost. That denies the journey of being lost. That has value too and is part of what carves you into who you are.
The journey is about integrating all the pieces – lost and found – and then glueing them back together to become something entirely new.
And when we emerge, broken and taped together and whole once again, the lights shines through the cracks and then, finally, we find God.
(Universe/Angels/Whatever resonates with you. I used to be an atheist, but sometimes, only the G-word will do.)
Wishing you a wonderful week,Suzanne
p.s. I’m embarking on a radical self-care plan fueled by unconditional self-love. Because the first step to making a change is first accepting things exactly as they are. Care to join me?
Download the Self-Care Plan for Reclaiming Your Joy below, and join me as you reconnect to yourself and the sacred rhythm of the universe.
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