I hear my clients say things like this, and it sounds like such an innocent little thought, but I wonder if it really is.
We can all agree that we want to be happy, but this idea of constant happiness is artificial, and the expectation doesn’t serve us.
Intellectually, we know that we aren’t going to feel happy all of the time. Yet we continue to make it a big deal when we’re not because it has been programmed into us that we should be. These thoughts can lead us to more pain and suffering than necessary.
Join me this week as I teach you how to stop trying to escape negative feelings and why accepting your reality will enable you to feel happier in life. I’m sharing why true happiness and genuine pleasure are generated from within and breaking down these thoughts of “I just want to be happy” to help you see why happiness shouldn’t be the goal.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 33.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my DLL ladies. DLL Drink Less Lifestyle. So glad you’re here. How are you doing today? I am doing fantastic. And actually I have to tell you right now most of my body is sore. I have been doing a lot of exercising and my hamstrings, my glutes, my quads, my obliques, you name it they are feeling sore. And I like to say they’re feeling delightfully sore. You know how when you have a good workout and you feel sore the next day? That’s exactly how my body is feeling.
So inside my Epic You program we are focusing on a 30 day goal. So Epic You is my exclusive membership program that currently is by invite only. So after the ladies get done with getting their results within the Drink Less Lifestyle program many of them will be invited to join me inside Epic You. So we’re taking the tools that we learn from coaching, and self-coaching and the cognitive work to get the result of becoming a woman who can drink less or not at all and transferring that to different areas of our life, so it’s more generalized life coaching.
And we always focus on a topic of the month. So in May we are focused on getting it done. And that means we all in the group have picked a 30 day goal that we are going to accomplish. And you had to pick this goal and post it in our community on May 3rd and we are all getting it done. So I walk the ladies through the process I use to get results. And this is the process I use to get results quickly, to get results fast. Sometimes you just want to ignite and just start running right off the block.
So my goal for May is to lose body fat, decrease my body weight, increase my flexibility as well as tone up. And I have defined what success looks like for me and how I will be measuring it. And so this is what I’m having the ladies do for them so that we can all cheer each other on. It’s so much fun when you get to do goals together and that you can be there to be supportive to other women. So it’s so fun to watch all the ladies and support each other, cheer each other on and we are getting it done ladies, so proud of you.
And if you’re not in the group what’s your May goal? Are you going after something? And it’s not too late to set one and get it. What can you accomplish in the weeks that are left in May? And I’ll tell you, the brain likes nothing more than accomplishing something. It makes us feel so good. It raises our self-esteem. It just feels so darned good, so get it done ladies.
Alright, so today I want to talk about the concept of being happy. So I was talking to a friend the other day and she’s had a bit of a tough year. It’s been quite different than what she’s expected. She’s been in a random car accident as she likes to say, which I kind of remind her that all car accidents are random since none of us really plan to get into one. And then she’s had some health issues come up, she’s had changes with her daughter’s school that she didn’t quite anticipate and just some other things that are just constantly popping up for her.
So I know it’s been a tough year for a lot of us and we had a lot of things that were unexpected, things that popped up, things that changed that we didn’t know would change. And so I get it and I’m not trying to diminish what she’s going through. But she said something at the end of all of this that kind of hit me differently than before. She said the phrase, “I just want to be happy.” And I hear some people say this, maybe not so directly but in an indirect way. I wish none of this was happening or I wish I wasn’t going through so much.
So I want to talk about this thought, I just want to be happy because it sounds like such an innocent little thought. It sounds like even pleasant. It sounds a little even aspirational. But I wonder if it really is because I mean who really doesn’t want to be happy? I think we would all raise our hands to that one, yeah, me, I want to be happy. But as I started to think about this more, I just want to be happy implies a few things. I think first it implies we aren’t happy now.
I think the second implication is we need something outside of us to make us happy. I think a lot of us say, “I just wish circumstances would be different so I could be happier”, which you know in my coaching style as a causal coach, it’s never about our circumstances, it’s always about the thoughts about our circumstances. So thinking that we need to make our circumstances be different or to change in order for us to be happy gives away our power.
The third implication that comes from I just want to be happy makes it sound like happiness is the goal. And I’d like to break that down and look at that a bit. And then the last implication is when we say, “I just want to be happy”, it feels like we should just have it. We should just be happy. There’s something wrong in the world or in the universe if we aren’t happy. So I want to break down these thoughts because I think they can lead us to more pain and more suffering than is really what is necessary.
So here’s something we all know, that we can’t be happy all the time. It’s just not possible to be happy all the time. Now, I know intellectually we know that. You may hear me say that and go, “Duh, right, I know that.” But here is the thing; I don’t think our brain actually remembers that all the time. I think our brain expects us to be happier more than we are.
Now, just reflecting back on my friend as she was saying, “I just want to be happy.” This sentence actually came after I have spent time with her in weeks prior, months prior where she’s been laughing, happy, celebrated her birthday with her. And she’s had happy moments. But it’s so interesting that the brain will focus on what’s broken or what’s not going well. And then the brain just says, “I want it to be different.” And oftentimes the thought is I just want to be happy.
And so sometimes I don’t think it’s such an innocent sentence in our mind. I don’t think it’s such an innocent thought that we have. Because if we know that we aren’t supposed to be happy all the time, why are we making it such a big deal when we aren’t happy? Like something is wrong, like the universe isn’t playing fair all of a sudden, like the rules of the game have changed. And when we think we should be happy I wonder if our brain fears that we won’t get back to happiness. And that’s a big fat lie because we know happy moments will come, they always do.
So I wonder where we get this, I just want to be happy from. I wonder where this thought comes from. And as I pondered this I have to say I think we subconsciously pick this up in a few ways. So I see back to when I was a little girl and I would read the fairytales, or watch the movies, or the videos, like Cinderella and the others that we learn from a very early age how these books and movies end. They always end with happily ever after.
And I think we all want the happy ever after, especially as you read these books and there’s usually turmoil, there’s usually chaos, there’s usually something bad going on like unfair treatment. And maybe Cinderella was treated like a slave. Or a woman is in despair and a man comes and rescues her, which by the way, I don’t believe women need rescuing, but a lot of the fairytales go like that. And then they fall in love and the wedding happens, and all the fanfare, and then they live happily ever after.
But we never hear from them again after that wedding bliss. We never see them grow old, or fight, or disagree, or handle money, raise kids, gain weight, lose a job, lose family members, have sexual intimacy problems, go through perimenopause or menopause. None of this is displayed in the fairytales. We’re just told that they live happily ever after.
So I think from a young age we kind of become programmed subconsciously, yes, when you grow up and you get the right job, and you get the right man, or you get the right work environment or all the things, you’ll just live happily ever after. So this gets programmed into our psyche and I don’t think we realize it and we’re aware of it. Now, think about other messages we are sent about just be happy, or messages where we just see happy people.
So I think of all the car commercials around Christmastime, there’s a car that just shows up in the driveway and it’s got a big red bow on it. If you’ve ever purchased a car you’re in there for an hour or two signing paperwork, deciding. It’s not always happy in the process. Of course you get the car at the end and then that’s the joyous moment. But what do you see in the car commercials? Not them signing the documents and the paperwork and how they figure out how they’re going to finance it. No, you see the bow and the big car in the driveway and all these happy people around it. They’re excited, they’re joyous.
Or how about that elder couple who’s just walking the beach happily in a fiber ad commercial or some pharmaceutical commercial. They’re happy now that they are on this treatment and they have relief. Or let’s look at all the people easting that happy $6 cheeseburger, or the pizza pie. It’s delivered to your door and all these conveniences. And look how happy everybody is when they get to eat pizza.
Or other commercials like you open your refrigerator and there are 16 flavors of yogurt. So if you don’t like the yogurt that sounds like dessert like strawberry cheesecake you can just go for the key lime pie. Let’s just keep making our food more enticing, more sugary, and just so we could just be happy all the time. Or you had a bad day, here, have a beer, have a glass of wine, that’ll cheer you up.
And so what this message sends if you look at it is it’s about being happy. It’s about consuming or buying whatever it takes to make you happy. And in that case happiness becomes the goal but should that be the goal? Because I’m pretty sure it’s normal to have just an okay day. And I’m pretty sure it’s normal to have bad days because we all have them. So why do we expect the days to always be good and happy, because really we can’t be happy all the time. And I’m pretty sure life was designed to be that way. We were given the full range of emotions to feel.
And I don’t think life is about a contest of how long can you stay in the happy zone. And that would be a measurement of success. Interesting. And just think about the people who are happy all the time, don’t you feel they’re a little off the beaten path? Are they a little crazy? Who wants to be happy at a funeral? Who wants to be happy when somebody loses their job or gets a diagnosis of cancer? I know I certainly won’t be happy if that happens to me. Or somebody gets in a car accident, or my daughter gets hurt, I don’t want to be happy about that. I’m going to choose to be sad.
And quite honestly I think that’s natural. I think that’s the way we were designed, to have compassion, to have love, and to know that things don’t always stay the same, things change and we need to change. And that means we need to change our emotional state to match the changes that we experience.
Now, another thing that has birth in the last couple of decades is positive psychology. Find the silver lining, find the good in everything. Rosé all day, have marijuana if you’re feeling blue or bored. Let’s just escape these negative feelings or these bad feelings. And so what we’re doing is noticing that this is how we’re starting to program our mind, if you feel bad, or down, or depressed, or not good, or you’re bored, or you’re lonely, that that’s not acceptable. That we have to change that state and we have to change that emotional state that we’re in, now we can.
And that’s the thing, now that these things are so widely available, marijuana can be purchased in a lot of different states, and alcohol is widely available and all the other things that we can escape from our lives. Now that they’re widely available I wonder if there’s going to be these epidemics and pandemics on how we become addicted to all these things because we’re not good at just feeling an okay or a bad day. So an accessibility to these products and substances is no longer an issue now we can have them widely available to us and have them at our disposal.
So what’s going to make us choose non-happiness? Because let’s face it, we can even do pills. We can be happy all the time which leads me to my next question. Is happiness the goal? Is that the goal of life? Is that the goal for your life? Is it the goal to be the most happy person that you know? Always cheer people up. Always fight against the grain when your body’s sending you different emotional cues. And is it to escape the negative feelings all the time? And if so, what does that life look like?
What addictions, dependencies, external things do you become reliant on for this artificial world that you want to maintain? Because happiness all the time is artificial, it’s not natural. And I’ll say it again, I know we know it intellectually but we are not designed to be happy all the time.
And aren’t there times in your life where you go to a friend and you just want commiserate and misery loves company and all is they want to do is cheer you up? And it just feels so wrong. It just doesn’t feel good to you. You’re like, “I’m just not ready to be cheered up yet. I want to sit in this emotion for a little bit longer. And I want to tell you how I feel when I’m having this emotion right now.”
It’s like many women who we go to our husbands and we start telling them how we feel. And we just want to be heard. We just want them to acknowledge that we have these emotions. And what do they want to do? They want to fix it, they want to solve it. And then we get frustrated. It’s like, “No, I didn’t want you to fix it. I didn’t want you to change how I’m feeling. I just wanted you to give me permission to feel how I’m feeling.” So I really don’t think happiness is the goal, I really don’t.
And here’s the thing, when you look at your most happiest moments I want you to think about those. So I came up with a little list of my happiest moments. For me, graduating college was a very happy moment, getting my first job. And even getting my 31st job would be a happy moment, getting employed, gainfully employed is a happy moment. My wedding day was a happy moment. The day my child was born was happy. When I travel or go on vacation it’s happy, when I get to see my family, that’s a happy moment.
But when you think about those happy moments what preceded them? And let me tell you, it’s generally not a lot of happiness before those moments. Think about a wedding day. There is a term bridezilla for a reason. It’s stressful. You want to make the bride happy. You want to make the groom happy. You want to make the groom’s parents happy, the bride’s parents happy. And then all the guests that come, you want them to have a positive experience.
And then you start hyper focusing on how you look, and what’s served, and the cake and all the things. And then since you’re spending so much money on this day you think it has to be perfect, or it should be close to perfect because look how much money you’re spending. So the brain gets wrapped up into making this perfect day where everybody’s happy and oftentimes they don’t go off without a hitch. Sometimes people run late, things aren’t the way they were planned. But you look back on it and you find it to be happy.
Think about the birth of a child, leading up to that it’s not always grandeur and happiness. There are moments and months that I was like, “I can’t wait till this baby’s out of me.” The discomfort, all the symptoms, the constipation, everything that a mom goes through when she’s growing a human inside of her body, and then let’s not even talk about labor. That’s not happy either. So any moment of happiness, what’s preceding it? All those years going to classes to get your college degree, it’s work, it’s toil, it’s discomfort.
So I think genuine happiness comes as a byproduct of doing something hard, doing some hard stuff, hard work. I think you really experience true happiness when you go through something challenging or difficult and you come out of the other side. And just like any other feeling that we experience and that we have, you can’t sustain it forever. It’s fleeting. All of our feelings are fleeting. Nobody stays depressed a 100% of the time. Nobody stays stressed out a 100% of the time.
Nobody could stay happy a 100% of the time. It’s not biologically humanly possible. Or if they do experience that, there’s a chemical imbalance or a dependency of some sort, or chemicals to make you stay in that state. And here’s also the thing, we’re not just meant to experience two or three emotions. But a lot of us identify with just three, four, five, maybe six emotions on a daily basis. I think we’re meant to experience a lot more than that.
And inside Epic You we went through the feelings wheel and you can just Google that if you want. Look at all those feelings out there for us to be able to enjoy. We are given our feelings for a reason. And this is not to be a Debbie downer and say you can’t be happy. I just don’t think you could be happy all the time.
And here’s the thing, when we grasp that for our reality and we know that that is our reality, and that we can accept that as our reality you know what happens? You wind up being happier in life because you’re no longer fighting the negative feelings. You’re no longer wanting to escape those negative feelings. You’re no longer running to the drink, to say, “I can’t handle this.” Or, “I just want to feel better.” Or, “Hey, I’m already happy, let me take it from a level of nine to a level of 10 because I can.” But I don’t know if the goal is really happiness.
And here’s also what I want to say is that sometimes just thinking that thought may serve you, but many times I’ve seen it not serve people because if they think they have to be happy all the time then they’re going to go pursue it at all costs. And they’re going to do things that don’t feel good in their body, like over-drink, like overeat, like shop on Amazon again for something else that they’re not going to use, wear, need. And you know that doing more of that leads to more false pleasure as I’ve talked about in a previous episode about false pleasures.
True joy, true happiness, genuine joy, genuine happiness, genuine pleasure that is generated from within, that doesn’t come from outside of you. And that is a skill that you can learn. It’s a skill that I teach inside my Drink Less Lifestyle program because I don’t want women to be dependent on external sources when they can fill themselves up with joy, happiness, love, all the things that they feel they want and need.
You can tap into your inner being, your intuition and find the place of love, peace and joy and it’s genuine, it’s not fake. And you don’t feel like you need to keep running to something to get it. It just naturally is within you. And tapping into this part of you is certainly something I teach my clients because we don’t need the external to change the internal. The joy can come from within. You can learn how to do this for yourself. And your life improves even though you still experience all the emotions that we are meant to have.
Alright, thanks for tuning in today my friends, I will see you next week. Cheers.
Hey, if you’re loving this podcast I’d love to hear from you. Please rate and review this podcast as it helps others discover this work and free them from alcohol. And I’d love to read your review and give you a shout out on an upcoming episode. Cheers.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.