“All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.”
– Spike Milligan, British comedian
Millions of People Are Unhappy
Nearly everyone would agree that there’s plenty of bad news these days. Insecurities abound concerning our work lives and our families, threats to our natural environment, violence and drug use and the impact of scary international issues. It’s enough to make a person concerned and even worried. As you probably know, excessive worry – the kind that makes it hard for us to function – is called anxiety. As of March, 2015, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in America, affecting about 18 percent of Americans. Up to 10 percent of our population may be suffering from a depressive disorder at any given time. As a matter of fact lots of us are taking medications to treat anxiety and depression.
Nearly 50 percent of Americans have taken at least one prescription medication in the past 30 days. About 21 percent have taken at least three medications in the last 30 days.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the most frequently prescribed classes of medications related to physician office visits are:
1) pain medications
2) medications that treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Everyone knows that sleep deprivation contributes to unhappiness. The CDC reports that about 4 percent of Americans have used prescription sleep aids in the past 30 days. That’s over 12 million people taking prescribed sleep aids. We can wonder how many others sleep poorly, but prefer to cope in different ways.
About 70 percent of Americans report being unhappy in their work.
Approximately half of all marriages fail.
Clearly, lots of folks are not living a happy life. And sadly, it appears things may not be getting any better. In fact numerous studies indicate that depression is on the rise, worldwide.
One piece of the puzzle is the following: Forty percent of American children are born into single-parent households, most of which are fatherless. All the evidence clearly shows that these children are less likely to live happy lives. Just two brief examples:
“Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.”
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2011, Table C8. Washington D.C.: 2011.
“Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. Survey on Child Health. Washington, DC, 1993.
Real, Lasting Happiness Is Possible
From ancient times to the present day, great thinkers have tried to explain what accounts for happiness: material security; connection to a divine power; pleasure; virtuous living; service to others; good health; law and order; a sense of importance; power… etc.
Most people would agree that happiness is a mood or an emotion; falling in love, winning a big game, or reaching a career goal. But could we define happiness as something other than an emotion? Could it be called a state of mind, or a state of being? A sense of relief after a period of suffering? Sharing another person’s joy? A continuous and general sense of peace and contentment?
It’s interesting that the unhappy people I encounter in my work often seem to know what they could do to get happy. But, to my continual amazement, they don’t take action. When they’re asked why, the answer is usually, “I don’t know.” Believe it or not, this is more the rule than the exception.
Maybe you’ve been feeling that things aren’t going right, and you can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Consider this possibility: apart from your conscious awareness and understanding, could there be some other way of seeing the problem? Is there another kind of knowledge that could help you see things differently? In other words, is it possible that there is a kind of knowledge that operates apart from the conscious level? And that this thing, commonly called the unconscious or subconscious mind, knows what the conscious mind does not know? I suggest that this possibility is well worth exploring, because a large body of evidence exists to prove that the subconscious mind is not only real, but is capable of near-miraculous feats.
The fact is that all of us have had experiences on the subconscious level of awareness. If you have ever been attracted romantically, you know that attraction does not occur on the conscious level. We don’t wake up one morning and say to ourselves, “I think I’ll fall in love today.” You may have gone to the supermarket to buy a few items, and ended up buying more than you expected to buy. You’ve driven down the highway for a distance, arrived at a certain point and realized that the last thing you remember seeing was thirty miles behind you! The fact is that a great deal of our behavior occurs on “auto-pilot” and is driven not by reason or conscious intention, but by other forces like emotion or the subconscious mind.
If you are currently going through an unhappy period, does your conscious mind know what is prolonging the unhappiness? Can you explain why you’re not moving on even though you know something must change? Can you see why you end up in one bad relationship after another, or why you’re stuck in a dead-end job?
The culprit in this kind of situation is usually a lack of motivation. If you’re feeling unmotivated, it may be because your conscious mind is plagued by conflicting ideas, a lack of confidence or a negative self-image that keep you from finding solutions. The subconscious mind has no such mental entanglements. Getting in touch with it just might help you find the solution you’re looking for.
You Can Feel Happy
Just a few of many ideas … please feel free to send me your ideas, too!
Watch the behavior and attitudes of happy people, and learn from them.
Obey the laws of the land.
Learn to love learning.
Forgive your parents.
Get good at something by working hard at it.
Act mercifully to others: everyone may be struggling with something.
If your personality includes a spiritual or faith component, consider exploring and expressing that part of you in the company of others.
Learn to understand the different kinds of love.
Accept yourself as having intrinsic value, just because you’re alive.
Notice whether you have the tendency towards rigid thinking and behavior – if your thinking or behavior is in a rut , and you feel “stuck”, you may need to change things up a bit.
Take good care of yourself.
• Be physically active – exercise, play, walk
• Do whatever it takes to make you laugh heartily.
• Meditate / pray – that doesn’t always mean being physically still.
• Slow down a little bit, every day.
• Notice now much time you spend on “auto-pilot”, doing things without being aware.
• Spend time in the sun and in fresh air.
• Get enough sleep.
• Eat what your body needs, and allow for a little nuttiness, now and then.
• Avoid street drugs completely and use alcohol only in moderation.
Be kind to others, especially the less fortunate … and allow others to do good deeds for you.
The Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
When you fail, learn from the failure, and remember that you have succeeded in the past.
When you succeed, give thanks with a humble heart. In fact give thanks, as a general rule, daily, and nightly, as your head touches the pillow.
When you experience the emotions we sometimes don’t like – sadness, anger and fear – slow down and observe yourself calmly without judging, so that your mind doesn’t jangle.
Input from an outside observer can be a valuable addition to the problem-solving process. Working together as a team, you and I can embark on an exciting journey to help you find your happiness. And I would like nothing more than to be of service in this way.
If you’re having trouble getting motivated to find your happiness, please feel free to call (219) 309-3928 for a 15-minute no-cost consultation.