We’ve all read our share of inspirational quotes. Depending on how the mood hits, most of us will either receive such chestnuts as motivation or words to ignore.
The writer doesn’t know me, you may think. The writer doesn’t know what I’ve been through.
You’re right, of course.
The writer doesn’t know my pain!
Nope. The writer doesn’t know, and these memes are not one size fits all.
This one works for me, though, and so I’ll jump off from here …
Exercise: Part One
Disclaimer: This ensuing two-part exercise is based on several self-help techniques adapted over the years, as well as various psychological questionnaires for students when I was a teacher. My minor was in Abnormal Psychology, though I make no claims to being a practicing professional.
If your situation is dire, and you truly cannot find your happiness or peace, please contact a professional.
The following 12 questions, if honestly adhered to, should determine if your life is where you need it to be and, if not, steps to take to make it so (Part Two).
- Who do I envy?
- What do they have that I don’t?
- Do I know for sure that they are happy?
- Why do I want what they have?
- Do I have anything they may want? What is it?
- What is my perception of their happiness?
- Do I want them to be happy, or do I want them to be miserable? Why?
- Where do I want to be in my life?
- What steps have I taken to get to where I want to be?
- Did those steps work? If not, am I repeating them and hoping for a different result?
- Should I tweak my goals?
- Is it possible for me to ever be happy? If “yes,” what would it take? If “no,” why not?
To the last question, above, if you answer “no” — and I expect some will — this exercise does not replace therapy or medical care in the event of depression or related issues.
Exercise: Part Two
The following 12 exercises are to be implemented only following the answers above.
- Is there any reason why that person I envy … should envy me? Write three examples at most. If you can write three, chances are you can write more. If you cannot, work on it awhile longer before you give up.
- What do I presently have that I cherish? I know many people with a great deal of money, for example. Many are unhappy as they are lacking in love, real friendship, and other life essentials. Some of them look at people not as financially wealthy, and express desires to return to “simpler times.”
- What exactly does “happiness” mean to me?
- When was the last time I was happy? What happened? Can I get back to that space again? Is it possible?
- Do I believe the world is stopping me from receiving what I deserve? Why? Or, if not, why not? What can you do about it?
- What do I think the world thinks of me? Does everyone else think I am happy? Sad? Angry? Resentful? Why? Do I sometimes cover my emotions? Why?
- How do I think the person I envy would want me to feel? Can I speak with them? Would they be open for an honest conversation?
- What would it take, exactly, for me to be where I want to be? Can I do it?
- Have I taken the “proper” steps before to get to where I want to be? If not, refine those steps or tweak your goals. If “yes” … you may have simply taken the wrong steps. Consider realistic options.
- Write down a maximum of three other people you envy. Then write down a list of three people who you think envy you.
- What is my greatest regret? Is there still time for me to rectify that regret?
- Same question as #12 in Part One, now that you have completed these exercises: Is it possible for me to ever be happy? If “yes,” what would it take? If “no,” why not?
The point of these questions is to simply lead you to a place of deeper understanding. By writing these questions down on index cards, or a notebook, or a computer, and answering them honestly … you just may be surprised at the understanding you attain.
Realize in all cases, as bad as you may think you have it … others may have it worse. This will not change how you feel, nor should it. Your mindset is yours, as is your pain. But the idea is, again, to delve deep and see if understanding — and a new perspective — can arise from your present circumstance.
If so, it’s time to get to work.