Lately, I have been reading some really interesting stuff. I have been introduced to Industrial/Organizational Psychology which in turn has introduced me to Positive Psychology and I’ve been reading some great books and watching some great talks.
Like many people, I too bought into the idea that if you are happy and positive, you are somehow inauthentic. I never described myself as a pessimist, but staunchly clung to being a realist. And I always felt that people who were too positive and happy and bubbly were fake and somewhat irritiating.
But the more reading and listening I keep doing, the more I find what a mistake that has been and I am interested very much in correcting it.
The past few years have been really trying for me. I am sure you all have some sort of idea from reading here but I also know that I have been quieter and quieter as things have heated up so you might not really understand it or even know what is going on actually and that’s ok. Point is, lots of trials, lots of tests, lots of beatings.
This year, I really got to another deep low. I felt that I was just breaking into a million pieces and I lamented that I would never be myself again. I felt that whatever happy person I did have was being ripped into shreds and thrown into the wind. I felt that every time I dared to enjoy peace and happiness, storms hurtled through and I was worn out and exhausted and just beyond done.
But, one of my signature strengths is love of learning so I started to seek out, once again, thoughts on happiness. And this time, I wanted the hard stuff not the fluffy anecdotes of someone with lots of money to spend on fulfilling many of their desires. No, I wanted to see what the science really said– the good science, the one that had LOTS of research with BIG sample sizes, with results that had been duplicated. I didn’t want to hear about that one study of like 30 people this one year.
That’s how I fell into The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I was looking at some psychology journal online and read this neat little study they did on self-help books on Amazon and Shawn’s was credited as being one of the very few that was rigorously scientific. So, I snagged it from the library and it really was a great read. And the best part about it, I think, was the huge section in the back with the references. From The Happiness Advantage, I have dived into Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and I have many more of his queued up as well.
I think these books are important because they give me a scientifc explanation for things and they also scientifically discredit popular opinion. For instance, one of the big big big ones for me from Seligman’s book so far has been the fact that scientific research simply does not back up the popular opinion that we are who we are today because of our childhood experiences. It’s just not there even though everyone swears up and down by it. As a matter of fact, the science shows there’s just not much that can happen to you that will leave a significant impact on you for much time other than the death of a spouse or child which often leaves people suffering as long as 5 to 7 years after.
So, in other words, your past has little to no bearing on your present and certainly little to no bearing on your future.
This was a big one for me. In other words, every day IS a new day if you accept that. If you really embrace the idea that the past is in your past and that your future is in your hands and that your present is what you make of it, well you are quite a powerful creature aren/t you? And lighter too as you release SO much resentment and anger and bitterness.
I have been reading about things like Learned Helplessness and it’s all just really amazing and powerful stuff. And I need it. I am reading through all this as once again another storm is gathering and growing and blowing through my family– my precious and beautiful family that I am eternally grateful for. This storm is likely to last for months and I am trying to build myself up to deal with it– not fight it, because fighting the weather is futile you know. But I am trying to build up my reserves, my buffers, and my army to help me cope with any potential pain or damage and to help me rebuild if things get really really bad.
I want to hide away from everything more than ever. I want to spend days in bed in the covers in the dark in the quiet, but everything scientific says NO that’s NOT what you NEED so screw your wants. So I am. I am reaching out and am focusing on gratitude and building up my self worth and letting go of what did or didn’t happen so long ago and am ready for now and am trying to be hopeful for MY future along with everyone else’s. I am trusting in myself and in my family and in my friends. I know that we are all so strong that we should be able to reduce the potential damage of this storm to the equivalent of a mere thunderstorm.
I love my children. And my children love me. I love my partner and my partner loves me. I love my family and my family loves me. I love my friends and my friends love me. And those are the things that matter. Those are the things that count. There are people out there who have a lot of anger towards me, who view me as a monster I am sure. But I am secure in my confidence of myself and my love for myself. I am not a monster. I am fair and I am patient and I am kind. Because I do not bend to the demands of another again and again and again does not make me a monster, it makes me a human with a backbone. And I am that as well.
I never in my life dreamed that five years after separating my ex husband would have so much anger towards me. I never in my life dreamed he would go behind my back to try and accomplish things. I never in my life dreamed that he would involve the children and cause them confusion. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be generous in his support of them. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be able to meet with me to discuss things. I never in my life dreamed that he would refuse to hear me out on everything, that things would get so ugly they would end up like all of those other dramatic divorces I heard about.
It just goes to show you that the only thing that you can be sure of is you and your response and your reactions. And you HAVE to believe that you have that at least under your control because if you don’t, you find yourself in the depths of despair and hopelessness and that is brutal to recover from.
So here is what I know, what I am certain about. I overflow with love and kindness. It is who I am. I know that I am resilient and that my children are as well. I know that these messes that keep coming up are annoying and pesky but in the long-term, they will fade into black.