I have always been an energetically and emotionally cyclical person. When I'm on my way up, to the highest of highs, I can hardly contain the excitement in my body. I want to laugh and kiss and scream and dance and run around in the middle of the night - as well as text everyone I know how grateful I am to be their friend. It's a nice time, but before (and after) a high always comes a crawl-to-the-bottom-of-a-pit-or-at-least-underneath-the-covers low. Anyone like me that has A LOT of general energy, mental energy, or an active imagination, knows it can be used for fun, but it can also be used in ways that are harmful to ourselves. It's easy to spend time and energy imagining reasons why people wouldn't like you or marinating on a conversation that happened three weeks ago. Along with that, having tons of mental energy comes with overthinking and analyzing experiences while they are happening often more times than fully experiencing them.
I used to low-key love the bottom of the pit. I thought that this was the place where knowledge came from. In my experience, sadness came with self and world-awareness and a deeper understanding of all things. Every time I felt myself losing energy, moving into that headspace, I would buckle in my mental rollercoaster seat and think, "Okay, I'm ready. This is gonna be a good one, I'm gonna have something to teach after this. I'm going to get something out of it." I in some part have to attribute this feeling to the open-sharing social media model, or as some call it "performative vulnerability," in which people share their hardships and the lessons they learned from those hardships. Now, let it be known, I am all for vulnerability and sharing your story, but you have to understand, seeing this almost daily has an impact on what you become excited about. It can glorify the bottom of the pit. It can show that if you have a story of suffering to tell it's a story worth telling, sometimes suggesting more worth than one of pleasure. It does make it seem like something pretty that other people will love, when in reality, being in that space often (in real life) is something that's just not fun. Straight up. I also am not blaming this aspect of social media for my feelings around any (perceived) mental come down of mine. The majority of my love for the come down came from the depth that I experienced in life when in that state of mind. I was sensitive. Little victories became huge. Talks with friends were more common because I was prone to reaching out. I felt a deeper connection to my body and everything I experienced during these times.
I have since begun to see this as problematic. Not because I felt I was moving in cycles, I think life is just cyclical in nature and that's fine! The problem here was that I was not giving joy nearly enough credit.
I was interested in learning, feeling, and depth of experience. Believing that these things were constricted to being in a depressing state of mind, just wasn't the truth. Sometime recently I realized I just couldn't handle the continuity of feeling that way. I was so incredibly done with being attentive to feelings that drained me - so much so that I was willing to give up the lessons that came long with them. I just wanted to have fun.
Making that decision, the one to actively put my attention where it felt best to, showed me that the place that felt best was also the MOST beneficial! It turned out, joy and play had any and every same lesson I could learn in every other state, and it was more peaceful learning. This is NOT to say that sadness, grief, anger and such have no place in our lives. I love those emotions. There is life in all. However, continuing to allow yourself to be in a place that is mentally and physically harmful, or to consistently favor those emotions over ones that feel pleasant, is not worth any lesson or any depth. I had to ask myself very honestly, "Why don't we just feel good?" The answer seemed to be that there would be no more work to do. (SILLY - I now know I will be joyfully working on life forever). When something was wrong, I knew what I had to conquer. I knew what I could change or fix or what was ahead of me. I felt I was making progress. Feeling sure of what direction I had to run in comforted me, and problem solving helped me feel in control and thus, better.
Here's what joy had to say about that:
Control is not a prerequisite to bliss. The release of it is
What I learned from approaching life from this place:
To not attach myself to the cycles. Talk about PURE EXPERIENCE & PURE FEELING. This is huge. I stopped seeing each emotion that came my way as "how I am" and identifying with the high or the low or the cycle as a whole, and rather took on the view of "this is just what's happening." It's like, I'm angry, that's just how I feel right now. Then I'm happy, then sad, then hungry, and on and on and on I just feel what I feel and then I act on it or maybe I don't and just accept that that's the way things are - for now. It's possible to be joyful about the thing you're experiencing - even if what you're experiencing isn't joy.
With that, know that anywhere from one second in the future to years in the future, things ARE going to change.
To zoom in, and zoom out (in terms of perspective). I adopted a detailed view. Looked at the details of a flower, of a dog, of my loved ones, of my food, of my own hands and body. I would zoom in on my life. I'd stare at the river until I learned something new. Stand in the grass until I found new sensation in my feet. Then, I'll zoom out! Google the likelihood that I am born to my parents, with my DNA, as ME. (It's a tiny miracle). Think about the Earth's size in space; and my size on Earth. Noticing the magnitude of the universe did me very well.
To reach out even when I didn't "have a reason to." Community care is everything! Rather than waiting to need something or until you feel bad, it is wonderful to just share life with your people. This brings more joy.
I have found that connecting to a blissful point of view is connecting to presence, or maybe vice versa, but the two are intertwined. By practicing this we can be more consistently appreciative, laughing, unattached, and generally less stressed out.
Lastly, I hate the generalization of "living a happy life" because it's not only so hard to gauge, but also implying that your life can be summarized by one emotion - which, who knows, maybe it can, but mine is nowhere near that so here's something to think about:
Enjoying it! Joy can be defined as "great pleasure or happiness" OR "rejoice."
I love that. Feeling and showing not only happiness in life, but pleasure; rejoicing!
Coming at life not with the expectation of happiness but through the lens of pleasure.
I think that pleasure often comes hand in hand with curiosity.
Pleasure of feeling - all emotions, all cycles, all sensations.
Exploring all parts of living this life.
"Everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman."
-Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
(Now go enjoy!)