01.10.2012 Personal Growth

Being Happy

There's a lot to appreciate even when things are tough, suggests Dr Charmaine Saunders

"One of the most tragic things about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses outside the window." - Dale Carnegie

We all have preferences when it comes to our emotions. Who wouldn't rather be happy than sad, positive than depressed, calm than anxious? But I learned a few years ago that there's no difference, in fact, between various emotions. It's all just energy and the surest way to hold onto negative feelings is to judge them, analyse them or try to pretend they're not happening. We can't be cheerful all the time -that's a plain fact of life - but we can be happy. Even in the darkest hour, we can find the peaceful sanctuary that lies within each of us.

Rejection is something we all find very difficult to deal with. I don't suppose anyone likes it much. But if an issue has particular resonance for you, it will always keep coming up in your life.

To follow your dreams, you must constantly be challenging oneself, taking creative risks and making yourself vulnerable. Take heart, you're not alone. We're all in that same boat.

It's picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and starting again that counts.

Conquer Fear
Subconsciously, we set tests up for ourselves, especially in areas that we know are our weakest. What we fear, we will always see. If you're constantly worried about money, you will eventually have a financial crisis to deal with; if you're afraid of rejection and loneliness, you'll experience relationship breakdown, and if you're afraid of tangible things such as a particular insect or object, you will see nothing else. So, the important thing is to conquer your fear before it cripples your life.

When a client says to me that they want to overcome a certain issue or problem, I always warn them that, for a while, it will get worse as their negative egos struggle to keep them in a dark place. It's a test of our resolve - will we cave in or hold strong? If it's the former, we're simply not ready so don't lose heart and if it's the latter, there will be rewards in the improvements in life that will become clear. We humans like to learn our lessons via the mallet over the head instead of gently and effortlessly.

The very fact that we're here, living on the earth plane for however many years, means we have human stuff to do and that's important too, even the boring, mundane things.

I guess it all comes back to balance again - there must be enough in life to make our hearts lift and our spirits soar, whether it be a hug from a friend, a beautiful piece of music, a puppy or a child's playfulness, the sight of the ocean, trees, flowers, a lover's smile and so many more.

Look for the Gem
Prosperity comes in many forms and sometimes it's heavily disguised. When life seems at its hardest, that's when we have to look for the unexpected gift. It's easy to get anxious about money, for instance, but worrying about money actually forms a blockage to money flow. This shows us we must remember that money is a currency and subject to ebb and flow like all currents. It is not intended to be held onto tightly for reasons of security, only used as the commodity it is, with prudent consideration of incomings and outgoings. In other words, it's best to spend less than you have coming in! Remember the expression 'mad money'? It stood for money that was blown with no regard for accounting. Everyone should allow a small proportion of their income to be used as mad money after allowing for bills and savings. At the same time, it is not wise to lack respect for money either or laugh about the lack of it.

I saw a light romantic film called Serendipity and in it the woman says that in Greece, they don't write obituaries when someone dies; they just ask one question, 'Did the person have passion?'. One friend said it represents risk, or, taking things to another level, adventure.

See the Magic
What about magic? Is that another wishy-washy concept or something real and tangible? Years ago, when Jupiter was last in my sign, Libra, my favorite astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, said that it was like having a magician walk ahead of one, making the way easy and wonderful. Who wouldn't want that! At the end of the year, he warned us Librans not to despair at losing such a helpful friend but to remember to be our own magician. I have never forgotten that and try to live my life in that belief. I always believe that things will come out right in the end - and they generally do. Try to see the magic in ordinary, everyday things; look at the world the way a child does or imagine seeing again after years of blindness.

How dare we take the beauty of our world for granted, or the daily gift of life?

Some Tips
A cousin in America sent me a great email this week, of things learnt from Noah's Ark. My favorite is (of course!) 'When you're feeling stressed, float for a while.' I also like 'Don't listen to the critics - just get on with the job' and, finally, 'No matter how hard things get, at the end, there's always a rainbow waiting.'

Learning is a lifetime's occupation and yes, we repeat many lessons as we go along. But we must never get impatient or critical of ourselves, just start again and use the newfound knowledge to do better, feel better, relate better, live happier.

Jim Rohn, the well known motivational speaker and author, says these are the four emotions that help us change:

1. Disgust - when we've had enough of a particular situation
2. Desire for change
3. Decision to act
4. Resolve - promise yourself you'll never give up.

This tip comes from a friend who heard about it at a workshop she attended. If you have an issue to sort, decision to make or problem that's troubling you, walk around in a circle, clockwise, seven times, saying out loud what you're dealing with. I don't know what's supposed to happen after you finish but I gather you feel better, so give it a try. We're all capable of worrying but we need to remember that it's a learned habit that serves no purpose other than to create more bad feeling so best to unlearn it if it's one of yours.

When you behave in undesirable ways, feel 'upset' or have physical symptoms, ask yourself these questions:

What am I doing to create this situation?Are my emotions helping or hurting me?What am I telling myself?What are the facts?Am I exaggerating or distorting?Are there other explanations?How likely are my worries?Whose problem is this really?What have I got to learn from the situation?Am I failing to trust?Am I giving in to negative thoughts?Am I running into the future?

Why do we quarrel? Obviously because we disagree with someone but there's a lot more to it than that. It can be about us or the other person. I always suggest to my clients that they try to come from a true motive so when we find ourselves in conflict with others, it's good to ask 'Where is my anger really coming from?' Fighting in a positive way is also important. Yes, it IS possible! Dumping anger is not acceptable but expressing it is. One of the main sources of disagreement is differences. What we should do is learn from our differences instead of letting them induce conflict. Differences between people can actually be strengthening rather than weakening. So, the next time you feel like lashing out, being defensive or standing on your pride, think twice and then think again and stay calm.

Remember to appreciate your daily blessings and not find a whole lot to criticise about your life which is really quite wonderful most of the time.

Dr Charmaine Saunders

Dr Charmaine Saunders was a much loved relationships counsellor and speaker who wrote for NOVA for many years. She died in July 2013.