Finding happiness, living with anxiety

“Finding Happiness”…
When you read it like that… it just sounds so easy.

It almost sounds like you could discover it accidentally, while folding the washing or walking the dog. As if you lost it in the first place…

I kind of buy into the whole “you cant know happiness unless you have felt sadness” idea. I think you can’t fully appreciate something unless you have experienced the other side. That doesn’t mean I think that anyone deserves or should have to go through a life of sadness either. Just a balance, that’s all.

What makes a person feel happy?

It is so individual but also the same in many aspects. It’s a journey.
For everyone I have ever known (I accept it if I am wrong here) – falling in love without a doubt makes everyone happy.
At least in the beginning. What comes after that depends on the situation.

The problem here is for some people (I am one) or maybe a lot of people… we don’t know what makes us happy anymore.
Work, marriage, kids, life – life gets in the way of our creativity.
The inner part of us that knows what we need to do to be true to ourselves, to express ourselves and truly be happy.
To give a piece of ourselves back to a creative part of our self, to allow ourselves to express what it is inside us that makes us individuals.

Express  yourself

Self expression doesn’t have to be art, it doesn’t need to be writing – its just whatever it is that allows an outlet of “self” and creates a flow of energy.
It could be a conversation, it could be picking flowers or walking up a mountain to reconnect with nature. Swimming in the ocean… I don’t know what it is for you… I am still trying to find what it is for me.
I believe if I knew how to better express my true self then I would be a happier person.
Sometimes this can lead to the much larger and more complicated question of “who am I really? I am not going down that road in this post.

Children have the happiness gift

When we were children we knew what made us happy and what made us unhappy. These things were obvious, black and white. I knew what I wanted to do to be happy so I would go and do it… Life was simple and choices were easy.
I can remember that I felt fulfilled at times when I did things that made me happy as a child.
Happiness is fulfilling, sadness leaves an empty feeling, its lonely and can make it very hard to connect with other people.

And then we grow up

As we become adults I think we forget, I think we give to much of ourselves to mundane things that don’t really matter and by doing so we lose the ability to know what makes us feel happy, for real genuinely happy.
I don’t speak for every adult in the world here,  just those of us that have lost our way for whatever reason.

How I try to be happy with anxiety

I am a positive person overall despite living with anxiety and episodes of depression.
It’s important for me to keep looking for signs of goodness in the world, in situations and outcomes.
It sounds basic and easy and it is, but just because I think happy and I look for happy it doesn’t mean my day will go that way, it doesn’t mean I will find happiness in other people either.

I have days where I don’t want to get out of bed, its too boring, too depressing and its so yesterday (rinse and repeat).
Feeling that way obviously makes me unhappy. It fills me with dread about how my day will go if I feel that way when I wake up.
I have anxiety all the time. Anxiety makes me feel depressed and worthless yet I still have happiness in my life, how is that possible I wonder?

For me it really is about seeing the best in the people. I am introverted by nature so I do find it hard to be around people. It drains my energy big time.
My line of work requires me to work with people directly, so I decide to start my day by imagining/hoping that every person I interact with is going to be interesting and friendly.

Thinking that way helps me to shift my focus outwards rather than inwards. If I focus inwardly I feed the anxiety. If I focus outwardly then not only am I taking notice of whats going on around and outside of my mind but I am also able to actively listen to the person I am dealing with at the time.

Inward focus leads me to thoughts like this:

  • I sound so stupid right now
  • I look ridiculous
  • God I am ugly compared to ….
  • I have no idea what I am talking about

I know that all of the above is not true but I think it anyway. Anxiety makes me think it. A million other thoughts go rushing through my brain all relating to how rubbish I am as a person, what a failure I am and so on…

Inward focus makes my body do horrible things:

  • Prepare for danger
  • Get ready to run
  • Heart beats faster, face flushes red
  • Brain turns to fog
  • Breath comes quickly
  • I begin to break a sweat
  • Sometimes I stutter or my words come out flat and robotic

When that happens all I want to do is run away and hide. Its fucking embarrassing, it makes me feel like such a loser.
The physical reaction leads to more negative thinking because now I am worrying that the person or people around me can openly see my anxiety… and that makes me feel stupid and so the cycle goes on and on.

Usually if I have an anxiety attack I will go over and over it in my mind later on. I don’t want to relive it but the anxiety makes me evaluate it and remind me how I have this problem and it makes me feel so alone and yes – very unhappy.

Challenge the anxiety

I have been through mindfulness training (be in the moment, outwardly focused etc), I have gone through cognitive behavioural therapy. I know how to challenge the thoughts, I know how to question them so they become what they are – irrational, nonsensical.

The problem is that I still experienced them. They are real to me. They make me unhappy.
What do I do then… to combat the unhappiness from the anxiety?

  • EFT – Emotional freedom tapping. I am a skeptic by nature but this one has worked for me reasonably well. The only downside is that when I really need to do it I feel tired and depressed and sometimes I can’t be bothered going through the process. EFT Demonstration.
  • Mediation – I find something that appeals to what I need on YouTube.
    There’s heaps of guided meditation videos to chose from with choices ranging from videos for “letting go” to videos that walk through relaxing and releasing anxiety from the body.
    These are easy, I can fall asleep listening to them and I usually feel much lighter afterwards in mind and body
  • I plan a night out that I am comfortable with… I go somewhere new and put myself out there and I feel the world around me. A night or a day… whatever it is, something that makes me feel excited to look forward to. Anticipation of something good always makes me forget my troubles and look forward with happiness.
  • I read blogs about anxiety, it helps to know I am not alone here freaking out and its always good to read other peoples tips for coping.
  • I research supplements that reduce anxiety… nothing that works well all the time yet…but I am always hopeful and I would rather go natural than pharmaceutical if I can help it (which sometimes I just cant…..).

Life is a journey, so lots of people tell me, I don’t know where I am going. I think that would help. I do know I am not alone in feeling that way, which I take comfort from.


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