Just over a week ago, I posed a question in my blog. It was more a question for myself, rather than for you. I figured that at some point, the answer would come.
Because the answer is always there, if only your ears and heart are open enough to hear it.
Anyway… the question:
Why is pain so much more intense than joy?
In that moment, I truly didn’t understand, but I get it now. The answer hit me while I was sitting at my kitchen table at home on Friday, entering some data for work.
It’s because I used to be in a constant state of sadness, depression, pain, and misery. The moments of joy I experienced were just that—moments. They faded quickly, which made me feel even more miserable, even sadder, even more depressed.
It’s when I used to write stuff like this… which is on my original website. Yes. I was “blogging” back in 1998, long before it was ever called blogging:
nobody knows me.
sometimes i really feel that way. i really honestly truly feel alone.
and then there are the times when i feel like everyone can see right through me, right through to the bone. and i wonder if they like what they see...
nobody knows that i secretly want to be the president of the united states.
nobody knows that i have read entries in my first diary that i started keeping when i was nine and i remember how my parents used to fight, and i always thought they were going to get a divorce and so i cried... and those diary entries still make me cry.
nobody knows that my sister always stole any money that i had so she could buy drugs, so to get back at her i stole her lip gloss and tampons. it makes sense in an 8-yr-old way.
nobody knows that sometimes when i see people on the street and observe how they look at me, i secretly wonder if inside their minds they're thinking the same terrible things that owen b. used to call me when i was in fourth grade... things like fatso, hippo, ugly...
nobody knows that even though i am very independent and strong, all i really want is for a man to love me as much as i love him. someday it will happen, but there are short spurts of time when i feel miserably unwanted. and then i kick myself because i know better.
nobody knows that not a single day goes by when i don't have at least one negative thought about myself bouncing around in my mind. it's usually something along the lines of looking fat or not being good enough to deserve something, but still, it's there...
nobody knows that i think so many other negative thoughts but i keep them all inside or i write them in secret places because nobody really wants to look at these ugly pictures i paint...
nobody knows that i value others' opinions about me way too much, that it's an everyday battle for me to have self confidence about anything because i have never had self-esteem, especially not when i was growing up.
nobody knows that i always have music going through my head.
How sad is that? Can you feel how utterly miserable I was? I feel sad, just reading that… which is one reason why, even though I keep all of my old journals, but I don’t necessarily go back and read them very often. It’s just… depressing as hell.
But that’s the constant state of being in which I used to live. That’s where I was, all the time, and when I felt joy, I often sucked the life out of whatever the source of that joy was, because I knew the joy was temporary—because the source was always exterior. It never came from within. Happiness felt like something I grasped at desperately, like dry sand slipping through my fingers.
These days, it’s completely different. Joy, happiness, openness, authenticity—these are now constants in my life. These are feelings and ways of being that I choose to nurture.
It’s because I live in a state of calm and warm happiness… and yes—I experience moments of joy, just like anyone, but because joy isn’t nearly so elevated from the state of being where I actually live all the time now… it doesn’t feel as intense.
So, because I’m not living in a constant state of depression, pain, and sadness, it feels more intense when I do experience those feelings.
The pain and sadness are insanely intense.
But—they're also temporary.
When I feel the pain, and work through it, and let it be, to the point of completely emptying it out—I can make the choice (like I did last week) to then fill myself up with all the good things I want, like love for myself, and even love for my body, my mind, and my life.
And today, realizing that I have completely 180’d… completely flip-flopped my attitude and outlook on life is hugely powerful and absolutely empowering. Truly! It reminds me of a part of the Pathways training, where there’s discussion about what makes people who are top performers become top performers in their companies.
It has nothing to do with exterior motivators, or incentives, or spousal support, or any other factors you might think.
The only thing differentiating top performers from average or even low performers was… the top performers were happy.
And they found real, profound ways to nurture that happiness.
I get it now… because now I know that no matter what comes my way, even if it’s a total train wreck, I will return to happiness, because that is my choice. Because at the core of who I am, I am actually a happy person. And if I make that choice consistently, every time… then I will continue to be happy.
The power rests in my mind and in my heart. And I’ve always known that—it’s just that when I look back, I was so confused and clueless about how to achieve that happiness in the first place. I knew it was possible—I just didn’t have the tools.
And then I went to Pathways and got some of the basic tools… and I started TAing and got more tools. I did the PrimeSelfPlus (PSP) class and got even more amazing tools.
And now, I am honing my happiness skills, one choice at a time, one day at a time, and it feels like something has finally clicked. It feels like I’ve finally picked up the clue and tucked it beside my heart.
I’m excited, and recharged, and empowered, and—
And happiness is more than a feeling. It’s a state of being—a habit, even, that I am choosing to nurture… one choice at a time.