Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy people learn to cope

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the University of California, as well as a research psychologist. In her studies, she has discovered 12 things that happy people have in common.

I am happy. Even when I'm feeling crappy, I am a happy person. People are forever asking me how I reached this place. It wasn't because I prayed enough, or took a magic pill, or held my mouth just right while dancing on one foot, or was just born happy (um ... NO ... you can ask my mom about that first year). Yet, I have discovered that self disciplines, even the ones which result in fun, have radically changed my life. These are things I learned through my own therapy and medicinal treatment for depression and anxiety. If you realize the concepts in this series are simply not enough, seek help. Insist on it. Find your own personal level of healing, which is different for everyone. Sometimes I speak "happy" with an accent, because I still dance with depression and anxiety - and that is okay.

I thought I'd focus my Mondays on each of the 12 common factors. It makes sense, because Mondays can totally slurp on the happiness meter.


I like today's happy person thingy!

Happy people develop healthy strategies for coping. I love this because it is a good thing while stating the truth that EVERYONE'S LIFE SUCKS SOMETIMES!

Everyone's life sucks bad sometimes.

So, when you line up all these dang people who seem generally more happy, how the heck do they paint on those friggin' smiles even after a time when things suuuuuuuuuuck?

They have developed the ability to cope when the tough stuff smacks them in the face. I have developed this over years, but really got into a much better groove after walking through attachment therapy with my kids. When you sit and hear someone teaching your children how to cope while dealing with pain and trauma beyond the imaginations of most people, you find yourself with a choice. When your finances are in the crapper, and the guy at work has it out for you and your car just blew up ... you can use what your kids are being taught and expected to utilize, or you can wallow in it and get stuck.

Many times I thought, "Well, sure, this will work for them. But my stuff is different. I'm a grown up. Grown up problems. They are bigger. So - different."

If by "different" you mean "the same," then sure!

So, how exactly does one start to learn these magical ways of coping? You can start with a Google search for "coping strategies." Seriously. Right now. Open a new tab and do it. Start to read through what you find. There is something for everyone in there.

I think this also brings up another fascinating point. When I have been a very unhappy person, I found myself loathing happier people. Many times I thought, "They're just happy. It's easy for them. I HATE that!" In fact, it's quite the opposite. Those coping strategies you were just perusing require work. You have to think about it. You have to choose to utilize them or ignore what you've learned.

Happy people have worked their bums off to improve their outlook on life.


Kinda' helps shatter that misconception. It may also piss you off a little bit. It was easier for me to just be mad at happy people. I needed it to be easy for them and harder for me. I did not want to hear that I actually had control over the process. You mean, I have some responsibility in improving my outlook on life? Really? FRICK!

Look a that. A generally happy person just pissed you off again. Ah, the cycle continues.

So, say, "Screw you, cycle!" Write down three coping strategies that you feel like are a good fit for you (even if it includes throwing darts at a picture of me). Then try them. Every day. It can't hurt, and it just might help.


Birthblessed said...

My neighbor and I have been working all fall at Just. Choosing. Happy. So she has this job attending an autistic lady, who loves to go to thrift stores. My friend takes her to thrift stores every day and is all about finding things for other people. It makes her happy and it makes my kids and I really really happy. She and I go on dates- pickin' at garage sales, then coffee and the nice chocolate place. OR-- she cooks and I do all the dishes, and we both love seeing 12 around the table. Her family of 3, my family of 9. OR-- she has done all this thrifting for ME, so I take her laundry. We went camping together, she provided everything but I washed all the smoky blankets and folded the tent.

See, it just all works out. And we are reminding each other day in and day out to Just. Choose. Happy.

E said...

Such great ideas! I have been working on just what you wrote about, and it IS really hard. Thanks for the suggestions.

Elizabeth @ My Life, Such as it is... said...

I've learned I can be content and not happy at the same time and it's ok. With contentment I know happy will return at some point. It's like a deep down abiding joy that is just there under the surface. I can't explain it well but retreating into that well is a coping mechanism for me.

Um...not sure why this says "unknown". Elizabeth

Liz said...

Thanks Christine. In a low spot now and need this :-). the big kick up the butt that it is.

Lindsay Mama to Nine said...

If by "different" you mean "the same," then sure!....

and so can either let things destroy you...and OY could they if they let us...or we "therapize" ourselves, own our crap and keep going, making the choices we ask our kids to every-dang-day...yup, yup, yup.