Leo Babauta wrote to me recently (I get his blog posts in my inbox), on How to Be Happy When You’re in an Unhappy Situation. Work was kind of stressful at the time, so that was an easy click for me. Let’s see what Leo has to say about this. And it has lived in my inbox since, because I thought it might be nice to share with you. I can do this, because Leo has uncopyrighted everything he writes.
In the post, he gave four steps – I’m only sharing the first two here, because they were enough for me. First, allow yourself to be unhappy. Recognize the emotion, even if it’s painful, and let it be. Next, the beauty:
See the pain as aliveness.
Now that you’re face-to-face with the pain and misery, now that you’re touching it and intimate with it…see that in fact, it is a tender feeling of being alive. Life isn’t numbness and avoidance (at least, not exclusively), and it’s not all butterflies and sunshine. Being alive means feeling pain, feeling fear, feeling disconnected sometimes. Allow yourself to feel it, and imagine that this is what living feels like. Yeah, you could say, “That sucks,” or you could say, “What an interesting experience, being alive.” It’s like bungie jumping or how I imagine it would feel if you discovered you could fly: full of fear, excitement, shock and joy. That is an incredible experience. You’re having one of those right now.
This is what living feels like. There is no moment in my day when that sentence doesn’t help. As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of aliveness. It’s no guarantee, and it’s such a relief to still have it one, five, ten, and now twelve years after learning I had cancer. Alive is good.
It’s easy to identify our pain in times of sickness and loss. It takes a little more work to recognize it in the fine but uneventful days between. What if we could, though? Instead of going through the motions, when Monday to Friday feels the same, same, same every week without relief or alteration, when we almost fall asleep from its familiar rhythm, instead we wake ourselves. Maybe it hurts to realize we’ve been asleep. Maybe it hurts to realize life isn’t what we thought it would be. Fine. Feel the disappointment of that, and see the disappointment as aliveness.
This is what living feels like. Really imperfect and confusing and intense as it rises and falls. Some days it seems like nothing will ever change, and sometimes nothing stays the same. We worry and make mistakes and freak out and rarely have enough and sometimes wonder if anything will ever make sense again. This is aliveness. We’re all in it together. We can help each other a lot if we will try, but hands-down aliveness is really very good news, and we’re so, so lucky to have it.