“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Margaret Lee Runbeck
In last week’s post, The Happiness Choice, I mentioned that Happiness is the release of expectations.
As simple as this seems (when we expect nothing we are not disappointed and therefore can concentrate on and be grateful for what we DO have) it can be a real sticking point for people. They often feel as though letting go of their expectations or attachments to a specific outcome means they’re living with apathy and not Happiness. Or they feel that if they release expectations then they aren’t motivated to achieve anything of value.
Allow me to offer an example from my own life.
I’ve recently been through a divorce. I wanted to work on our marriage and heal our broken love. He did not. He left me and our two kids to go live with a different woman and her two kids.
If I had held onto the expectation that he SHOULD behave a certain way (stay married, live alone, spend extra time w/ his kids, etc) I would live in a constant state of disappointment, anger, and depression. I would also be MOTIVATED to make my point, prove him wrong, and express my negative emotions. None of these reactions would have fostered healing in myself or my children.
I’ll admit it was hard and that I experienced pain during the process. But because I was able to let go of the expectations about what he should do I was able to face, head on, what he was actually doing. And because I could face it head on I was MOTIVATED to heal which allowed me to focus on all the things that weren’t painful in my life (and all of the things that would be available to me in the future).
I wasn’t apathetic at all. In fact, I felt deeply. But the negative feelings didn’t have any space to take hold because I wasn’t grounded in my expectations of “family,” “husband,” or “dad.” Instead I understood that my ex-husband is a person of free will who has his own expectations of himself that aren’t tied to what I want or what I think I need.
Also, I’ve achieved more value in my life as a result of letting go my attachments to specific outcomes because I was being fueled by positive emotions and not depleted by the negative ones.
When I say that Happiness is a choice, I am saying that we can live a life full of emotions, positive and negative alike, but when we release our emotional attachments to specific outcomes we cut suffering off at the root; we choose to leave room for all the positive results that come from feeling positive emotions.
I am a Trauma & Illness Recovery Coach: Life Coach for people who feel no one understands.
And yes…I capitalize words like Love, Self and Happiness because they just feel that important to me.