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Embracing Joy Without Guilt: Reframing Our Quest for Happiness

I know what you're thinking. Who in their right mind feels bad for feeling good? Then again, if humans were rational, we wouldn't be on the verge of World War 3 and gleefully marching towards mutually assured destruction.We have a funny way of sabotaging ourselves. Despite our best attempts at being well balanced individuals, we struggle (at times) to allow ourselves to feel happiness. You know the feeling, don't you?That feeling when you're out having fun and hear the voice in your head go “Aren’t you supposed to be being productive right now? Did you earn this? Do you deserve it!?”– Yep, that voice.Suddenly that lighthearted activity you were doing turns into a tango of self-sabotage and you spiral into self-deprecation (me too).It took me a long time to stop feeling bad for feeling good (admittedly, it still happens from time to time). These days I’m much more likely to feel grateful for the positive feelings instead of guilt. The biggest thing you can do for yourself is reframe your thoughts and mindset. Now yes, I know at first it it’ll feel like you’re bullsh*tting yourself, but hear me out. How do you determine what the truth is? How do you know that one thought pattern is more legitimate or applicable than another? It just FEELS that way, doesn't it? In CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) we are taught that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are in a constant feedback loop. These thoughts dictate our feelings which dictate our actions which then dictate our thoughts which again dictate our feelings, and so on.. you get the point.This is an incredibly powerful realization. It not only allows us to identify where our negative beliefs stem from, but allows us to actively replace them with positive ones and change these core beliefs at – well, their core. Next time you’re out and feel guilty for enjoying yourself, pay close attention to the narrative and the relationship your feelings have with your thoughts and any interpretations about them. Then begin to actively replace parts of that narrative with reframed perspectives to reflect a more positive circumstance. Here is a list of positive REaffirmations I use:

  • Certain moments in life exist only in those moments. This may be the last time I step foot into this place or see these faces.

  • There is no quota of work I need to achieve to feel worthy of happiness.

  • Suffering is intrinsic to the human experience but so is happiness. Sometimes there is no reason for the suffering I endure. There doesn't have to be a reason or purpose for this happiness. It just is.

  • When I look back on my life I never remember the negative thoughts I had in those moments. Just the memories I created and the people I created them with.  

Those are just a few to give you an idea of the multiple truths that exist when examining a scenario. The next time you feel bad about feeling good, remind yourself that you have way more control over your interpretation of the narrative your mind’s telling you than you believe.I leave you with a quote that I hope you remember in the times when you feel ruled by your mind: 

“Your mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master” 

Rule your mind or it will rule you. I love you.

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