Archives for posts with tag: the neuroscience of happiness

We become what we practice. I keep saying it. It’s a thing you can learn more about. There are even actual experts in the field of becoming happy. No kidding. Right here. You’ve got this. There are just some verbs involved. A path. Some choices. A lot of practice. A bunch of beginning again. It’s a journey, and the journey itself is the destination.

You don’t have to choose to endure endless relentless misery. You. Yes, you. However bleak things feel in this moment right here, you can choose differently. Your results will vary – and incremental change over time can feel infernally slow, but you can choose to practice practices that improve your experience of life (and self), overtime, and maintain it long term. No kidding. This is real. Doing it. It works.

Maybe read a book? Got an entire reading list for you right here. 🙂 Watch a video? How about this one? (Be sure to also watch the less tongue in cheek follow up, though… 😉 )

You have choices. Maybe you chose poorly some recent day and you’re feeling sort of defeated. even now? Maybe you haven’t yet understood just how much of your misery you are not only choosing, but also working very hard to carefully craft and maintain it? Just begin again – please. Give yourself that chance. Be your own best friend on this one.

Be real with yourself. Be who you are. Be authentic about where you are in your life right now. It’s a place to begin. Now?

Begin again.

Learned helplessness sucks. It’s a common enough byproduct of surviving certain sorts of trauma. The frustration that can surge to the forefront of my experience due to complications of struggling with learned helplessness is akin to the nuclear blast of emotional weaponry; sudden, unreasonably forceful, and laying waste to the pleasant now that might have been. When I am simply doing my best to manage, day-to-day, and doing so with some measure of success, other things that need to be attended to may fall by the wayside; I can only do so much, moment to moment. My will falls short in the struggling, you see. I give up. Learned helplessness is a very real thing.

I wrote some days ago about my environment degrading, and that being a sign of ongoing stress, and a need to take care of me, more skillfully. I spent yesterday restoring order to the chaos of my environment. It feels very nice to handle that bit of business, and my surroundings are orderly, clean, tidy, and quite to my taste, generally. What I need is at hand. What I don’t need, has been put away. The effort to restore order in my environment results in renewed enthusiasm to keep it so, as well as ‘clearing my head’ for a whole host of other things that would benefit from being handled sooner than later.

I woke later than usual this morning, and took my medication later as a result. I am now taking care of me – and my loved ones – by taking sufficient time solo for my medication to kick in, and to wake up, and find my voice before I impose myself on their experience. Yes, that level of consideration matters to me; some women don’t leave the house before they ‘put their face on’, I avoid interacting with people before my brain has entirely come back online, and my level of pain is as addressed by medication as it will be, for the day. Taking the time I need really matters to me, and failing to do so changes my experience in a reliably unpleasant way.

The only snowflake I'm likely to see this holiday season.

Let it snow…

I recently got an email from an ex. A large measure of my PTSD is related to relationship trauma, and domestic violence, and I don’t have a comfortable experience of exes reaching out from the past, generally. I felt very anxious reading the email, and feel anxious considering it after the fact, too. This ex, this time, reached out to inquire – 4 years after the break up – whether I have any of her antique holiday ornaments. I was filled with complicated emotions that began with irritation and anger; when we divided our property I had specifically asked what holiday ornaments she wanted and was firmly and specifically told that the holidays would no longer have any meaning, and that she wanted no part of them. The anger became mixed with some measure of humor, and bewilderment; we’d never owned any antique ornaments together, at all. She had a few small handmade figurines, made by her Mother, and those were so clearly hers that taking them with me wasn’t even something I considered. I had a small number of handcrafted ornaments my own Mother made, and had given to me. The rest of our ornaments were common enough glass ornaments, some traditional sorts that I purchased my first holiday alone after I left my first husband, few of which actually remain, and some interestingly non-traditional sorts that continue to delight and amuse me with their whimsy. Still, I carefully checked the tree, decked out for the holidays, to see if ornaments dear to her had remained with me. I didn’t find any, and my journal entries of the time indicate that I had taken pains to carefully box the ornaments that were peculiarly ‘hers’ and left them behind for her when I moved out. I replied kindly that I didn’t have the ornaments she was looking for, and reminded her that we hadn’t had any antiques that I could recall. I made an effort not to read subtext into her reply, and have since tried to let it go. You can see the effort to do so has been only marginally successful; I feel angry that she even asked, and helpless to act on that in a way that is appropriate, effective, and needful. My logical brain tells me that I already have – so let it go, already. My heart says ‘this was so not cool!!’ and wants to do/say more. That was probably the point in the first place, making it even more wise to just let it drop without another word.

My level of physical pain the past couple of days has been very high. I hurt enough to affect my experience moment to moment, and although the effort to be compassionate and kind to others nonetheless is entirely worth it, I also find myself struggling not to resent how clueless people around me seem to be about the fact that I am indeed in that much pain. Sometimes I just want to lay down and weep, I hurt that much. It doesn’t help, though. I sometimes want to plead with people around me “please just be patient with me, please be kind to me – I just hurt, is all!”, but it hasn’t been my experience that it makes much difference; they are having their own experience.

Time to get the day started…laundry, putting away things that were relocated out of my personal space during yesterday’s cleaning, writing holiday letters…all the makings of a fulfilling quiet day. Today is a good day to take care of me, on my own terms. Today is a good day to change how I feel in the world.