Accidental Happiness

I put a lot on my “resolution” plate for this new year. Some of the things on my list were thoughtful entries—health and faith. Some things were happenstance—stopping prescription medications (my five-year date is in April and will signify a completed post-cancer regiment). One unplanned resolution contributing a great deal to my current level of happiness came about in a fit of frustration and hurt.

My background is this: I am a people-pleaser. I will often put my comfort level on a back burner so situations that involve you and me will go smoother for you. It leads to a great deal of stress and unhappiness on my end, but if you’re happy then it is worth it. Or so I thought. I truly felt that if there were stress, I would absorb it so that you could be happy and content, and then I would be happy eventually. What I didn’t realize or acknowledge is that I was not eventually happy. I carried that burden for us and simply buried it. I had headaches, a stiff neck, and sleepless nights. I just brushed it off to aging.

I have gotten well-intentioned advice to remove toxic people from my life. I just wasn’t sure who they were or how to go about it. When your method is to only see good and to always boost others you begin to not be able to identify negative people. I’ve been encouraged to cut ties, block via social media, or otherwise disengage with people who fit the category of negative; those people who drain the happy from me and leave me with their emotional residue.

I was at a loss to remedy this for nigh on 49 years. The catalyst to change this was initiated for me: I was unceremoniously removed from a contact online who was rather paramount to my whole family. Me! Someone removed me!—and my whole family,  to boot! I was infuriated. I was hurt. I was confused. I was relieved. Wait. What? Ahh, no more pretense. Mmmm, this was nice. I mean, I processed the rejection part but when the dust settled, I was … happy. I had delayed decisions that might be best for my family and this person hurried my changes. I sort of reveled in a new layer of peace I was unfamiliar with and I liked it. I took it a step further. I did some serious thinking and evaluating. I played back interactions that I had, or was still having, with a few people and whether or not I was receiving anything positive from them. Not that it was making me happy—my happiness is my job. But even in the midst of negative situations, there can be something positive. So I asked myself, “Am I learning? Do I feel better after interacting? Did I have a healthy engagement with this person?” If I could answer yes, great—life was proceeding well and things could be or were on an even keel. If I said no, I evaluated their merit in my life. Granted, I am not at that emotionally secure yet, so these people are in my life still, but I limit their negative actions on my life.  And I am sleeping a whole lot better.

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