Practicing happiness 19

Nothing is more important than that I feel good.

It’s easy to say, but takes some work to really internalise this principle. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I’m learning more each day.

I’m learning that “good” isn’t always within reach. In which case aim for “better” or “less bad”.

If you’ve suffered chronic anxiety and depression with underlying complex trauma you’re probably going to need to aim for “less bad” for a while.

Still it’s a useful question: is there anything more important than me feeling good right now?

Well yeah: looking after the kids. Helping out my wife. Doing work. Running errands. All of those are more important than how I feel. They need to get done, and if I fail to do them I’m basically failing as a human being.

See? I told you it was a useful question.

Having beliefs like that explains why you don’t feel good. And that’s another useful measure: if I don’t feel good, I probably (definitely?) don’t actually believe there’s nothing more important than me feeling good.

I can easily say “nothing is more important than that I feel good” but that’s not what I really think.

So how can I close that gap?

Because if I really think that, I’m much more likely to act in accordance with it. And before I even act in accordance with it I’m going to feel tuned into it. That thought is going to orient my whole approach to life and help me create a reality that feels good to me.

And obviously that’s going to include things I want, like my kids being happy and healthy and a good relationship with my wife and enjoyable fulfilling work and everything in life unfolding in satisfying ways.

But in the meantime how do I close the gap?

I think the general direction is to act according to the thought, even if I haven’t fully accepted it or still hold contradictory thoughts.

If I start acting as though I really believe nothing is more important than that I feel good, I will add momentum to that thought.

At the same time I might start to notice I have false premises or resistance on some issues. For example: why do I think some important activities (like looking after my kids) are not compatible with feeling good?

Surely there are ways of doing that (housework, study, work, family duties) that are compatible with feeling good?

I’ve accomplished this before on the subject of cleaning my kitchen: I went from feeling resentful that I am forever cleaning my kitchen, to feeling really good about having a beautiful, tidy, clean kitchen – while allowing that it doesn’t have to always be in that state.

That proves it’s possible to change perspective, to find a way to feel good, and that means I really can believe that nothing is more important than that I feel good.

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