No matter how happy or upbeat we normally are, and no matter how we work to develop ourselves on an emotional and soul level – life happens. Life involves happiness and it also involves loss. It doesn’t discriminate between the good, the bad, those on a spiritual path and those who aren’t. The fact is bad things happen to good people – you only have to read the news headlines every day to see that. On a personal level, loss of a loved one through death, a relationship breakdown, job loss or personal worries can leave us mired in depression and long after other people feel we should have moved on, we still feel despair and unable to feel any joy or passion in our lives. So, if you are grieving over a loss or major life upheaval, what can you do to reconnect to happiness again?
First of all, understand grief and loss have no statute of limitations and we all work through our emotions in different ways and at different speeds. Just because a friend would be ready to ‘get back on the horse’ quickly after a relationship ends doesn’t mean you will. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling for as long as you need to feel it. Funnily enough, the moment we stop fighting or resisting our emotions, the easier it is to start to heal them.
There’s a fabulous field of human psychology known as positive psychology. Rather than having people talk about the events that have caused them emotional pain as in traditional therapy, it empowers people by helping them to first identify what makes them happy and then to follow that to happiness. It’s really easy to understand as it begins with the simple question: what is it that makes you feel energized and happy?
If you’ve lost your connection to joy this can be a hard one. First however, look back to a time in your life when you were carefree and happy. What music did you listen to? What did you enjoy doing? Find videos of your favourite hits on YouTube and watch them. Have you given up an old hobby or pastime because life got all too serious? Pick up that sketchbook, camera, sewing, cook book, old DIY project or even visit a toy shop. One client stuck in grief after a divorce remembered how she used to love Lego as a child – and went and bought some. Not only did she spend many happy hours distracted from her grief, when she re-married her new husband loved to surprise her with a new Lego set! What you may have dismissed as ‘silly’ or ‘childish’ could hold the key to your re-connection to happiness.
Be open to trying something new. Often if we are prisoners of loss, just thinking about summoning the energy to go do that activity we’ve always thought about can seem overwhelming. Yes, of course we know on an intellectual level it would be good for us. But on a soul or emotional level we may not have the inner resources to do that for ourselves yet. This is where your friends come in. Ask to tag along with them on one of their activities even if on the face of it, it may not be something you would normally be drawn to. Even if you find you don’t like it, you’ve taken a step towards reconnecting to joy. Try another activity and don’t be afraid to keep trying. Your friends want to support you through your process and believe me, will be only too happy to help you. You need to try as many activities as you can until you find the ones which are making you connect back to happiness.
Your environment also plays a crucial role here. If you are spending too much time alone at home, even if you don’t have anyone to go out with, do make the effort to get our. Take a walk in a park, the beach or the country. Visit uplifting places such as an art gallery, museum or even a cathedral or other place or worship. You will find this has a positive impact on your energy.
Remember, Buddhists say life is comprised of ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows. Without sorrow we can’t appreciate the joyous things in our lives, but we need to always know that no matter what happens to us, we will move out of sorrow and into the joy that is waiting for us once more.
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