The purpose of Happiness Abound as a happiness blog is to encourage daily happiness in the lives of our readers, friends and family. While contemplating what our very first post should be about, I was struck by how my thoughts on happiness have changed over the last year (from when I first began investing in happiness in my own life).

The Short Back Story

I should start by giving some background as to why I began researching happiness and as to why this blog has come to fruition. When I was younger I was very carefree and dare I say it, happy. I had my bad days, arguments and even enemies, but I never let those things get in my way or affect how I felt about myself. However, a divorce, an estrangement from members of my current husband’s family, a “failed” wedding business and being separated from good friends and family for several years assisted me in losing that happy person I once was. I had lost who I was and I had allowed myself to become very bitter and angry because of it.  It took several years of pain, anger, and resentment to finally bring me around to putting effort into my own happiness and creating positive change in my life. However, making the first steps to my happiness wasn’t easy and there were several thoughts that crossed my mind as I took a hard look at my life and what I needed to do to change it.

The Thoughts That Prevent Happiness

Deciding to make a change in your life isn’t easy, especially when that change seems so rooted into who you’ve become. The brain fills up with excuses and reasons to not change and sometimes these thoughts can ramble around in your brain for years before the pain of your lifestyle forces you to take a hard look at what needs to happen to bring about positive change and happiness in your life. I was particularly plagued by the following five thoughts:

1. I Have No Time To Invest In My Happiness

I had a full-time job, a husband, a dog, a house to clean, and TV to watch. There just wasn’t time to invest in my happiness! Or that’s what I would tell myself. I would also tell myself that I was too tired from work to read a book or blog about making positive change. I had plenty of time to do unproductive things like lose hours on Facebook or veg out with a movie on Netflix but making an effort to be happy and change those things that caused me pain? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

The truth is I did have time, I just wasn’t prioritizing well. Now I’m not saying that work, family (my dog included) and a clean home shouldn’t be priorities or that we all don’t have some days where we just want to zone out on the couch but I had to train myself to put my happiness first. That may sound selfish (see the next inhibiting thought) but my husband was unhappy because I was unhappy. My job suffered because I was wrapped up in anger, jealousy, and bitterness instead of being happy, open minded and creative. I was so worn out from a day of resentment that I didn’t have the energy to invest in my family or clean the house. When the pain of who I was becoming became unbearable, I looked at my life and realized that this “no time” mentality was holding me back in so many ways and it was time to make the time.

2. It Is Selfish To Be Happy

As I mentioned above, making happiness a priority in your life can feel selfish. I am a very selfish person by nature so this thought held me back for a long time because I didn’t want focusing on my happiness to become just one more thing that everyone could point out and say how selfish I was being. But as I also mentioned above, your personal happiness has an impact on every aspect of your life and those you care about. I’ve found that while I spend more time meditating, reading (and now blogging) on my own, I also have a more fulfilling, respectful, and communicative relationship with my husband. I am able to engage in conversations with my co-workers and be inspired by non-work related things. I know how to better prioritize my time to discover what things are most important to me. I see the irony that the words “I” and “me” are in this paragraph but it isn’t selfish to be happy and by staying angry and mean I was selfishly inflicting those emotions on those around me and focusing solely on myself and my pain.

3. I Will Be Happy When _____ Happens

I think this quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf says it best, “So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial. The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness. We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.”

For me there were several if-then statements that I would tell myself, most of them being situations that were out of my control and that I was letting control me. In all honesty the biggest if then statement that I would tell myself was “When my husband’s family likes me, then I will be happy.” I was letting their feelings about me rule my happiness and actions. We live 300 miles away from my husbands family and I would obsess about what they would put on Facebook and pout when I perceived that my husband and I were treated poorly or felt used by them. Interestingly enough, when I pulled myself out of this mindset (which wasn’t easy, but that is another blog post), I began to get along better with my husband’s family.  Another example of the ripple effect of happiness.

4. I Won’t Be Me Anymore

None of us at this moment are who we were when we were younger. Younger by a few minutes, a few months or even a few years. As humans, we are ever evolving and changing. What we read, taste, and experience can change us in an instant. I had a sense of self that was false and wasn’t who I wanted to be but I made this excuse over and over again. But being happy doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you selfish and while it may change you- it is a change for the better. Through pursuing my own happiness, I’ve become a better version of myself and I continue to strive to be better with each day.

5. I’ll Lose My Friends If I’m Happy All The Time

Logic would tell you that if your friends abandoned you because you became a happy person, they were never really your friends. But my brain isn’t so logical all the time. Let’s face it, as women, we tend to bond over the negatives in our lives.  If we share our happy moments like a promotion at work, a new car or even a romantic gesture from a husband- we can be perceived as bragging or worse. But when we share how a boss is treating us poorly or a family member said something offensive, women are often greeted with a sympathetic ear and kindness.  So you can see why we don’t tend to share our happy moments and how I would be concerned that I would lose friendships if I embarked on an adventure into happiness. Luckily, I have some amazing friends who did not abandon me but who wholeheartedly support my efforts.

What Thoughts Have Inhibited You?

We are often our own biggest obstacle when we are seeking to make a positive change in our lives. What thoughts have held you back from pursuing your happiness goals? Did any of these resonate with you? If so, I’d love to read your comments on how you overcame these thoughts or even what you are doing to currently overcome the thoughts that are getting in your way. Share your story in the comments below!

Photo by: Clem Onojeghuo