I spent the better part of my youth trying to do everything I could to make myself happy. This wasn’t to say that I was a miserable person, but I chased happiness like a dog chases its own tail because that’s what I assumed would get me there. In the end, the longer I tried to make myself happy, the more elusive it became. It was only when I stopped that I found it, sort of. Here’s how relaxing a bit more has changed my life.
I’m easier on myself. If I decide to do something I think’s going to be fun and it turns out to be a bad time, I don’t worry about it. I no longer see myself as being ‘wrong’ if everyone around me is enjoying themselves while I would rather be doing anything else. I used to wonder what was wrong with me when I couldn’t have a good time around a bunch of smiling people, but now I know that it’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t meet my expectations.
I have more realistic expectations. If I made plans to go to a music festival or see a movie and it wasn’t the best night of my life, I used to get downright angry. How dare these events not meet my expectations? Now I know that sometimes even in the best of circumstances, I could put too much stock into one thing and it wasn’t realistic to expect so much from something so ordinary.
I let myself feel everything. Nobody likes to feel sad, depressed, lonely, or any other negative emotion, but that doesn’t mean that these feelings are wrong. I learned that I had to figure out how to live in a feeling whether it was positive or negative. The bad feelings just make the good ones that much better anyway.
I figured out what traumas I was dealing with. Everybody goes through some terrible experiences that live with them forever. Some of these traumatic experiences can play direct roles in how we all turn out, how we handle relationships, and how we go about our day-to-day lives. When I stopped trying to outrun bad feelings, it made me realize exactly where they were coming from so I could deal with them and finally move on with my life.
I became more emotionally secure. Deflecting any horrible feelings I didn’t want to address often made it hard not to explode from time to time. I realized that trying to be happy even when I was utterly miserable led to some serious cry-sessions in unexpected places and for silly reasons. When I started to let myself feel sad, the random outbursts of tears and sadness went away.
I became a better version of myself. Because I learned to accept myself in all my messy glory, I was finally able to focus on the parts I could change and do the work I needed to do. I always wanted to grow as a person, and when I finally let go of chasing happiness, I was able to do it.
I became better at relationships. I used to shove my feelings so far down to pretend that I was happy. I did this hoping that it would turn me into one of those annoyingly happy girls that didn’t have a care in the world. Everybody loved those girls and I wanted to be someone that everybody loved. This obviously turned bad when I realized I’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea, so I stopped trying and found that real friends will love me for who I really am.
I realized that being happy isn’t everything. So many people look at happiness as this be-all-end-all thing, but I realized that it’s not. Being happy isn’t a constant thing. There are good moments and bad moments and they’re always cycling. When I learned that everything I feel is okay, it became that much easier to accept being unhappy sometimes.
I finally accepted myself. I used to hate myself for not being super happy or because I have a dark and twisted side. I love dark humor, horror movies, sad songs, and sometimes crying feels good to me. When I finally realized that there’s nothing wrong with being dark and sad, I got that much closer to being content with who I am and the life I live.
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