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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happiness and Preferences

Recently I've written a few posts on happiness.  There was a client quote about happiness, some offerings by various researchers, some theory about personal adult development and your sense of well-being.  Today, I will consider happiness from a slightly different angle, that of boundaries.

The very first step toward happiness is to pay attention.  You first, before you can begin to apply theories or suggestions, must be able to know when you are, in fact, happy.  Can you identify that
feeling in yourself?  It may seem a silly question.  However, we are all like onions---there are many layers over the central core.  Some of those layers consist of events/experiences we've been taught we should be happy about.  Maybe you're supposed to be happy when you graduate from school but, actually, you are mostly scared.  You are expected to be happy when you do something new---achieve a promotion at work, have a baby, or purchase a new car are a few examples.  But, what if you are a person who does not like to be the center of attention?  Others may want you to be happy when you are on vacation but maybe you are actually excited and involved in a creative job that is hard to tear yourself away from.  These are but a few ideas of how we might be socialized to feel.

Another layer of the onion skin may consist of discipline, your own self-discipline.  Maybe you are goal-directed and can readily put your own needs on the back-burner in favor of movement toward the larger goal.  Or perhaps, you are just a very organized individual---or a list person.  You favor taking care of necessities over personal joy.  'I'll get business done and THEN I'll have fun.'

A layer of onion skin could be simple socialization:  As discussed in an earlier post, our society is an extroverted one.  So if your happiness bubbles up in you when you have time alone or "me-time", there has probably been a lot of pressure on you to be different, to be more gregarious.  In Western culture, by and large, people are expected to prize socializing with others.

In another example, maybe you are at your most creative in an environment that is an 'organized mess'.  America idolizes immaculate houses, beautiful offices, spare interiors, nature shaped into parks, etc.  It may be very hard to allow others to see how you really like to live.

There are lots of onion skin layers.  The place to begin with yourself is to start identifying yours.
When you can peel off some of these, or at least, intercept them when they threaten to interrupt your happiness, you will be able to freely identify--to yourself--your own happy moments.

Once you have begun to know your own idiosyncratic sense of joy, you will start to know and, sometimes express, your preferences.  Of course, again, up pops socialization.  Society says that we are supposed to be agreeable, to go along with things.  What if your preference collides with those of others?  Well, that would be a choice-point.  Choose for yourself when it will not harm others is my general advice on that.

Summary:  When your boundaries are intact, you recognize when you are happy and also when you are unhappy.  Enduring is not your concern.  You are not fuzzy about your preferences; you have clear preferences and are able to appropriately act upon them.

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