Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Blog's Purpose

There are a couple reasons I haven't written much for this blog lately. The first and most obvious one is that life has kept me fairly busy for the last few months (it's great, I'm finally learning how to use my time effectively, but it means I have less time on here). The second and more subtle reason is that I've failed at the very thing I started this blog for - focusing on the good things in my life and sharing the happiness with others.

I think it's been simmering under the surface for a while, but here are some of my symptoms:
- A recurring focus on disappointments
- Comparing myself to others, in that I think they're fine and their faults are fixable, while mine somehow aren't
- Doubting God's ability or willingness to forgive me and heal me
- Generally doubting my ability to do anything significant or meaningful individually
- Generally doubting my ability to make a difference in other people's lives
- Being afraid of going outside my "bubble" and doing new things or interacting with other people

My husband, Z, loves watching TEDtalks, and I've listened to a few with him. One that we listened to last week that I thought was super interesting talked about a "happiness hierarchy," if you will. The speaker broke down happiness into three types: pleasure-happiness, get-lost-in-your-work-happiness, and my-life-has-meaning-happiness. The curious part of it was that pleasure-happiness (the more fleeting happiness, like from savoring a chocolate-glazed doughnut) only makes a difference in overall happiness when it's in combination with the other two; by itself, it can't sustain a person. So when you feel hollow and depressed about life, the solution isn't more of those amazing doughnuts, the solution (when you have normally-functioning brain chemicals and chemical receptors) is to become more involved in things outside of yourself.

Thankfully, I'm coming out on the upside of this experience. Slowly, one tiny experience at a time, I'm getting better. A cozy, uplifting conversation with my husband. Sincerity in praying for someone else. Expressing genuine gratitude in prayer. Feeling accomplished after cooking a creative dinner. Getting a good night's sleep. Feeling appreciated by someone at work. Talking with someone who is happy to see me. Focusing on the positivity of these brief, scattered moments is rebuilding my patience with myself and my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Frustrating things still happen, but as I dwell on them less and return my thoughts to at least midline, life is getting better. I'm feeling happier and more confident. The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to try again - because of Christ's love, I can have hope. The possibility is always there - Christ is always willing to receive me - but I have to choose it. I'll never be happy until I'm willing to work for it and adjust my attitudes; I need to be the one to "make happy" in my life.

Here is the TEDtalk, via YouTube. Martin Seligman, "The New Era of Positive Psychology."

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