Happiness and Emotional Control
True rewards and punishments are internal and not external like money or admiration. True rewards are the emotions we experience as uplifting, positive, and pleasant whereas true punishments are depressing, negative, and unpleasant. We have to live with whatever emotional range we have, occasionally but inevitably feeling everything from our lowest low to our highest high. The experiencing of such a wide range of emotions is what gives my life color and a sense of goodness and importance especially when they are in response to varied and exciting stimuli.
So why do I experience unhappiness that prevents me over and over again from living how I think I want to?
Because I often don’t feel how I think I should. I want to wake up full of joy and energy each morning, eager to complete the tasks of the day and to learn new things and to feel as though I am making progress and living a life that I want to live. Instead, waking up each morning is a struggle, and each task thereafter is equally a struggle.
Why is each morning a struggle? Why is every task a struggle?
Because I don’t feel the emotional reward. When I wake up in the morning I don't hear in my head “what a great day, good job going to bed last night, good thing you woke up this morning, the day needs you and appreciates you.” I don't feel the pleasant urgency I feel right before devouring a dessert or sitting down to watch a movie. When I am getting in the shower I don't feel that anticipatory joy and then the actual joy of being immersed in a pleasant activity. I don’t feel it right before making breakfast or when I am making breakfast. I only seem to feel it when the experience is extremely simple, for example eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty or when taking some drug that forces my brain to be happy. I want to feel happy when doing things I simply want to accomplish. I don’t want to push through life as if it were some battle, as if I were a warrior in the shieldwall only allowing himself the hope of dying with his sword in his hand. I want to scream with joy and energy. I want to strive with vigor and love, with courage and strength.
So how will you become happy? How will you find joy where you wish to find it?And pain and sadness? Where will you find them? Will you abandon them?
I will have to put joy in the places where I wish to find it. And pain and sadness will be in the places where I cannot escape them. Meditation is helping me to understand the different emotions, and in doing so granting me some small power over them. I am planting a seed of happiness in the actions I wish to take. Learning. I am planting a seed of happiness in learning. I am tending to that seed and will watch it grow until one day I can sit in it’s shade, so that when I am learning-the joy that I planted will accompany me. I am planting a seed of joy in the people I love. So that when I see them, when they need me, when I wish to call them, I feel the joy in doing so. I am planting a seed of joy in nature, in my work, in protecting and in healing myself and others. I am planting a seed in trying. Even if failure stings, I should not blame the fact that I tried, if I had not tried I would have failed even before I had begun, so the trying must be celebrated. I am planting a seed even in feeling happiness. So each of these seeds can grow into trees that protect me from false doubt, false disappointment, false fear, false hatred, and simple, crippling depression. By false I mean taught. The world teaches us lessons and reinforces those lessons through experience. For years I dreaded getting up in the morning now my mind knows only dread in the morning. For years, learning was a forced exercise now my mind only knows resistance, for years love was pain, now my mind only knows defense. I am taking control of who I am and who I am becoming. I won’t let the world punish me randomly, telling me from the outside what is good and bad, what is pleasant and unpleasant, if the world has made love bitter than I must reclaim it to feel it’s wonders.
How to be happy:
Step 1. Do what you wish you would do in whatever situation you are in.
Step 2. Reward yourself with happiness. Give yourself happiness. Plant a seed or water the sapling or lean against the tree. Take a moment to be happy, meditate, breathe, concentrate on the feeling of happiness and accept yourself and what you have done as good and worth doing again and again.