“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were not my life…”-Souza
I know the last thing anyone wants to hear is that the key to happiness is multi-tasking (come on America, as much as we like to put those SuperMoms up there on the pedestal, everyone has to breathe). So let’s reframe the word “multi-tasking.” (And the notion that somehow I have the key to happiness). How many times have you been suffering and tried to do something to stop the suffering? Probably a lot. It’s a natural, ingrained response to pain. However, I argue that it is imperative to be able to hold two things at once. If you are sad, be sad. It’s okay to be sad. But what I’ve learned is that fixating on that sadness and running in circles trying to stop it is a one-way ticket to crazy isn’t going to get you anywhere. Accept that emotion and the moment for what it is, and then put it in your pocket. You are sad, but you are also other things. Sometimes suffering can be comforting because it seems that it is all that you know. But accepting it and holding it doesn’t mean that you are letting it go. You are merely choosing to focus on a different emotion.
You can simultaneously hold many emotions–as Spencer Smith and Stephen C. Hayes, experts on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, say, “In any given moment. the issue is the same: Will you feel what you feel when you feel it?” You must be willing to realize that the pain isn’t bad–it is just a feeling. You must also be willing to realize that “suffering is no longer synonymous with pain. It is now synonymous with the postponement of living your life in the service of winning the struggle.” The pain doesn’t have to equal the enemy–you can just carry it in your pocket, acknowledge it. Say hi to it. As Smith and Hayes say, “learn to look at your pain, rather than seeing the world from the vantage point of your pain.”
There is an old 1960’s slogan that says, “What if they fought a war and nobody came?” What if you were willing to accept your suffering as something getting in the way of your life instead of as an enemy to be defeated?
“…This perspective has helped me to see there no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” -Souza