Updated: Mar 10, 2022
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By default, human beings live under this deep illusion that our circumstances are responsible for our happiness. And although I do agree that our circumstances can and will most likely have an important effect on our happiness, there's an even more important factor that defines whether a circumstance brings us joy or not, and which in many cases answers the common question... ''Why am I so unhappy?''
That factor, is our ability to allow ourselves happiness. Meaning, our willingness to accept joy when we believe that we deserve it, and our willingness to reject joy when we believe that we're not worth feeling it. If you often feel miserable or unhappy with life, you most likely have a huge bag of beliefs that don't allow you to be happy, by unconsciously making you feel that you don'y deserve to be happy.
What we find socially acceptable
See, I truly believe that the reason why most of us feel happiness (or think we're happy), when we go on Holidays and travel somewhere exotic, is that we find it socially acceptable to be happy in that moment. People are naturally joyful on Holidays, so why shouldn't we be? So regardless or the intensity of the joy that we truly experience in that trip, we'll take a beautiful picture where we're smiling, and post in social media, because nobody is going to question or judge us for being joyful in the middle of a holiday.
But who posts a picture in the middle of their work day with an inspiring message about how happy they are because of the work that they're doing? Very few people. Only the ones who've broken the pattern of believing that working always needs to suck, and that only free time is joyful.
We've unconsciously conditioned ourselves
Truthfully, I'm only using the holiday vs. job situation as an example to showcase how open or closed up we are to experiencing joy under specific circumstances. We've conditioned ourselves at a subconscious level to feel depressed on rainy and cloudy days and to feel excited on sunny days. We've conditioned ourselves to feeling lonely, unloved, awkward and hopeless when we're alone, be it out for dinner by ourselves or simply being single for a long time, and to feel supported, cool, normal and loved when we're in a relationship. We've conditioned ourselves to feel accomplished, proud, confident and relaxed, right after achieving something big and having everyone around us praise and compliment us, and to feeling dumb, behind, small and awkward on days where big achievements are nowhere to be seen.
The reality is that you don't experience joy when you experience specific circumstances. You experience joy when you make the decision to allow that joy to yourself, because you believe that you're worthy of it, and feel safe to feel the joy. And most likely, you believe that you deserve that joy, when society has previously agreed that you deserve to feel joyful.
In other words, if you're feeling worthy of joy based on your belief system, you'll allow joy to yourself and thus you'll experience happiness. But if you're feeling unworthy of happiness based on your belief system, then within you, there's an unconscious belief that says ''I don't deserve to be happy'', that will keep you from experiencing joy. And since most people are...
1. Unaware of the nature of this process happening within them, and...
2. Operating under the belief that we always need to reach for more and reach the next big milestone....
...then most people are never satisfied or happy with what they've got. Most people are unconsciously asking the question... ''Do I deserve to be happy with what I've got now?'', and receiving as an answer, a big ''not yet'' from their belief system.
This same process also goes on with respect to love. When we feel unworthy of love at some level within ourselves, we not only struggle to receive and accept love from others, but we also feel undeserving and unworthy of our own love.
The limited-self controlled brain
This is how our brain works when it's controlled by our small minded self, ego, limited self, human fear, or however you want to call it:
Did you get a promotion? Then you can allow yourself joy. Are you working on a project where the final results have still not blossomed? Then you don't deserve joy yet. Did you buy a new car? Then you deserve joy. You have no money for a car? What does that say about you? You're probably doing something wrong. You obviously don't deserve joy. Are you out on a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend on Valentine's day? You deserve joy, you must be doing something right! Are you all alone on Valentines's day and you're 35? Poor you, dear. You definitely deserve more sadness and sorrow today than you deserve any time of joy. After all, why would you be happy? What have you done to deserve that joy?
This is when I found out
It was during spring of 2017, while going through a painful break-up, having just moved to Germany, following a Masters program that I didn't love but that I had earned a scholarship for and which was my doorway to staying in Europe (I'm originally from Venezuela if you don't know), and having little to no friends yet in that country, that I discovered that the true cause of my unhappiness, was that I didn't think that I deserved it, because I didn't know anyone that would be happy in my situation. I didn't know anyone that would allow themselves happiness if they were going through what I was going through, so how could I?
My small minded self would tell me: first you gotta' change this mess. Get some friends. Get a boyfriend or a hook up or something. Go on some eat-pray-love holiday. Find a hobby that you actually like so that when someone asks you about what you're studying (which you don't love), you can somehow deviate the conversation to that hobby that you do like. Do something that makes your existence deserving of joy.
With enough observation I knew
It was at that same time, that I discovered mindfulness and spirituality. And through enough observation, I quickly realised what my mind was doing. It wasn't asking me to do something that would make me happy. It was asking me to do something that I had agreed, based on what others had agreed, would make me deserving of joy. My mind would say things like... ''Well if you don't have a boyfriend, then go date boys that will make you feel like a cool girl who's exploring her dating life in Europe''. And that makes total sense, because we've all seen movies where the cool girl is the one either in a perfect relationship or the one exploring love in a carless kind of way.
And then it hit me. I realised that I could actually do all of those things, meaning, going on the eat-pray-love trip (which I did by the way, it was my first trip alone and I wen't to Greece), dating the boys, getting a hobby, and all the other things that society had agreed on make you worthy of joy, without my joy actually depending on them. I realised that this overall idea of what makes a person happy or doesn't, comes from a compilation of all the individual human beings that don't allow themselves happiness in the absence of those things. So of course, as soon as you find yourself home alone and try to allow yourself joy simply because you're alive an healthy, this mental noise arises from the fear in the people around you, telling you that that's not a good enough reason to be joyful.
Sometimes it's easier in today's world
When I look at today's world, where wellness and self-care are a lot more trendy than it used to be years ago, it becomes clear to me that the reason why many of us now feel comfortable and agree to spending an entire weekend home alone by ourselves watching movies, reading books, meditating, drawing, cooking, or doing whatever simple thing that truly makes our soul dance, is because there exists a group of people who have fought to make this new form of happiness, acceptable.
Finding happiness through gratitude, mindfulness, wellness, fitness, self-care, self-love, or anything like it, is a lot more normal and accepted now than it used to be. So it has become easier for those of us who tap into that world, to open ourselves up to experiencing joy through the simple things.
And then it's hard again
But what I've also noticed, is that when I surround myself with people who are total strangers to this type of lifestyle, and live a more hustling and exhausting goal hunting lifestyle, it still becomes hard for a part of me to allow myself happiness through things that they may not feel are important enough for a person to deserve joy.
And in the midst of this observation, what gives me great inner peace and comfort, is the awareness that the only reason why a part of me falls back onto the habit of feeling unworthy of joy in the presence of people who wouldn't allow themselves joy in my current shoes, is that that part of me is looking for others to give me permission to deserve happiness in my current circumstances.
And then it's easy again
And given the fact that I'm noticing that that's what's happenings, it becomes extremely easy for me to let go and say goodbye to that part of me, and to make room again for the new part of me that knows, that I don't need anyone else to give me permission to feel worthy of feeling happy under my specific circumstances, because that would imply waiting for them to give themselves permission, and that, would not only take a lot of time, but also be a waste of my time and my life.
So today my love, I encourage you to reflect on the true reason why you're feeling like you don't deserve happiness. Ask yourself the question... ''Am I keeping myself from experiencing joy right now, because I feel unworthy of it, based on how others limit their own happiness?''
And if the answer is yes, my advice to you, is to take a deep breath, and allow yourself to start creating your own guidelines for your life, and to let go of the old guidelines that once upon a time, without even knowing, you adopted for yourself.
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