To ask you how to be happy?(40 Posts)
Just that really. I feel like I've been struggling with low mood and anxiety forever now. Until now I always believed I'd find a way out of it. I've taken up yoga, meditation, journaling, worked with various therapists - currently a psychologist. I've done everything I can do improve myself in terms of my work - endless courses, currently trying to complete a masters which I am struggling with as entire days get lost to sitting around and crying.
This week I was walking in the woods with my children. The sun was shining, my children were happy and healthy and running about and I just looked it all and it was like it couldn't touch me or something, or I couldn't access it. Logically I could see I should be happy but I just felt awful.
I don't feel loved or lovable. I feel useless. I can't get my career to work despite throwing all I can at it. I can't get my friendships to work although I think I am very loyal friend but I think I push people away because I try too hard and seem needy. I am very lonely. My marriage is often in bother. There is a lot of resentment, on going criticism, anger. It feels like my very best isn't wanted in all areas of my life - work, love, relationships and it all suddenly feels very, very pointless.
Nothing I do works. And I keep thinking well this is it then. This is my life. And I don't know what else I can do, I've just run out of hope and ideas. Today I was looking at yet another course thinking maybe if I just do that everything will click into place but I know it won't help.
So it's me. I am the problem. I just don't know what else to try.
I’m not saying I have any answers, but my impression from your post is that you are very busy. You are a wife, trying to maintain friendships, raising multiple children, going to school, taking courses, seeing therapists, dabbling in yoga, etc. You seem like an achiever, putting a lot of pressure on yourself to make everything the way you think it should be.
My suggestion would be to try to give yourself a break. Decide what your priorities are and cut out things that don’t fit. Maybe trying to get a career going while nurturing children and a marriage, as well as doing all the other little tasks in life, is too much right now. Perhaps you need more leisure time so you can relax and find something that stimulates you in a positive way.
Unstructured time might be what you need - what you choose to do depends on your interests and personality, of course. I need to take regular time away from crowds of people to feel healthy. I enjoy knitting while listening to pocasts, or just chatting with someone close to me. It’s simple stuff, but it’s downtime to me and helps me to connect with my joy.
Thank you, I did a little ‘oh’ when I read that. Here I am doing everything under the sun to try and fix it and maybe I just need to stop doing things. I don’t really dabble and that’s part of my issue I think. I actually did a yoga teacher training, no need whatsoever, I just keep doing things in the hope that something will finally make me feel like I’m worthwhile. But you’re right, there’s no down time at all.
I was a teacher, the job made me unwell and I had to leave it and I’ve lived in fear of being forced to return hence the desperate drive to establish myself in something else. My eldest also has ASN and that adds another layer of complication to things.
Thank you, you’ve given me something to think about.
Get a full health MOT. Most GPs offer them when over 35 now, if you are. Get your thyroid checked. And get your thyroid antibodies checked. No joke...
It's surprising how much more enjoyable life gets when your body's balance is corrected.
Then, get rid of everything that makes you miserable or just meh. Clutter, job title, husband etc etc
Ok that’s good advice too. Thank you, I like to feel there’s things I can at least or it feels unbearable.
Enjoying husband in the same list as clutter also.
You sound like you are doing a lot of doing and maybe not a lot of just being. Have you tried mindfulness? I am loathe to suggest another thing to try but if you can get yourself in to an 8 week course I really think it might help you.
I constantly felt disengaged and like life was pointless and then I realised through mindfulness that it was because I wasn't properly engaging in anything. My mind was always on the past or the future never just focussed on what I was experiencing.
You need to look for an 8 week MBCT (mindfulness based cognitive therapy course). These are available on the NHS in many areas (the one I did was via NHS and was very good).
My DH recently did a private one and that was also very good. Really changed his perspective on so many things.
A few things:
-How high is your bar set? Are you expecting a really high standard of living from you and everyone around you?
-come off Instagram or Facebook
- do a lot less
OP, have you sought medical help? It certainly sounds like you have a clinical depression, the inability to feel happiness (anhedonia) is a classic symptom. Sorry, maybe you've been down this route already but if not then it's possible that a trial of medication could really help pull you out of this hole.
Everything you describe sounds like everyday life apart from the bit where you say you're walking in the woods with your happy healthy children and you can't "touch it or connect to that moment of happiness". That makes me think you could be depressed and need some help. Antidepressants can help - I took them for short while many years ago and they snapped that spiral of depression away. Never needed to take them again. Chat to your doctor. Don't stay on them for long if you do decide to take them. One year fixed me.
Other than that here's some excellent ways to be happy-
1) Lower your standards - compare yourself to people in other countries not your contemporaries
2) forget about the idea that people should be happy- mostly they are not. Happiness is sold to us as something we all should feel all the time otherwise we're damaged in some way - be sceptical of that. Focus on other rewarding emotions like brief joy (in comedy for example), familial responsibility (be proud of how strong you are). Happiness will come naturally later.
3) exercise- just do it, it's magic for making your brain shift slightly more toward happiness. It's not about happiness while exercising either- that will probably still suck. It's a cumulative effect it will have.
4) focus on someone or something else that needs your help. Animals are excellent for this.
5) small pleasures - cake time, candles, lovely cups of tea etc.
6) hang out with old people
7) look at the long view a lot more - cosmology, ancient history and read biographies. That puts everything into perspective.
I don't expect happiness to be the status quo.
There are days and periods that are tough, for whatever reason. I think that we should allow ourselves to feel and acknowledge the hard times and the anguish. It will pass. Moods change from hour to hour and can turn in a second.
The trick is to be content, that you are trying to learn and grow, to not compare ourselves to others, to be content in being unhappy, to accept negative emotions are part of the whole experience of living.
I do an hour of meditation every day although I didn’t do a course.
I think I just want to feel at peace and that I have some value. That I’m wanted/good enough for something. I’ve been in a real chasing energy for years now. Looking for the thing that will fix me.
I’m afraid to try medication. I’m afraid of the side effects.
Also I’m fed up of losing days because I am just in my house crying. They come in blocks and I know they pass but seems such a waste of time. I get a lot of suicide ideation, I’m not at risk, I wouldn’t do it to the kids but I’d like to stop feeling so sad and sometimes it feels there’s no way out.
Anyway I have a good psychologist so there is that, she’s currently doing emdr which I’m finding useful. I probably just need to grit my teeth for a bit longer.
Great article! I should read that book.
I think you get happier as you age more...When I was younger I was sort of playing roles...mum..wife...daughter..employee and I was forever chasing things trying to keep all the balls in the air always busy always running around trying to keep someone happy...it is exhausting....now I am slightly older views and priorities changed,Things that were vital before dont seem to be so vital now,things that were huge befor earent as important.My focus changed over the years and while I was younger my best never seemed good enough,,,age taught me to believe in myself and that things dont have to be so perfect cos the world will still keep turning...I am approaching midlife a lot more relaxed and less stressed now and with that comes an understanding or it has with me that its ok if things dont go to plan.that its ok if I forget something it can be put right...that freedom in knowing me and my limitations brings happiness...I trust myself and my judgement,I am not chasing the career ,new car,,next holiday,or even trying to keep up to what society demands ..its ok to plod along at my own pace....I am happier now than I have ever been ..kids are growing up fine,jobs ok money is okish! Health is ok could be a bit better but I am at peace with myself...it makes me relaxed and happy....
Yes that sounds like a lovely place to be, slow pace, simple things.,
Just to add ..happiness in my life has also had its down side...It has made me really selfish...for example I dont care a jot if kevin ran off with sharron and upset tracey..or that doris down the road's cat has a sickness bug or that tina has got a new kitchen,or that trevor at no56 wears a dress when margarets gone to work! Its all just pointless drama to me now and I just couldnt care less..my being happy and selfish hasnt made me a good friend cos my empathy seems to be disappearing as much as my happy side is growing...its very odd!
What age did things start changing, was it when children were older / left home, or you reached a certain level in career or financially
I have a little notebook. Every day I note at least three things which have made me feel fulfilled. They don't have to be big things...
I saw a Thatcher thatching a roof in the village, his little truck piled high with huge bundles of thatch.
I was given a little aeroplane pin badge by a friend.
A watched new comedy series on C4 and I laughed out loud.
It's really very therapeutic to sit at the end of the day, and even look back over a log of loveliness. Little things like those are easily forgotten but they add up. Every day something good happens. Even if it's just a well toasted crumpet.
Hi Stacey I dont really know ..well I kind of do but it seems so small the reason I mean...I had my son when I was 19 and it was hard,I knew not a foot of the way..I had suddenly to be responsible and make things happen to try to build a secure life for him..I was on my own and I had to learn to be a mum and find a career and you know just life...fellas came and went,jobs came and went but still I had to get up and keep going,,it was frustrating and thankless...anyway fast forward 21 years from then and son has got to 21 yrs old graduating university and I am stood there or sat there at the graduation with a baby in my arms right back at square one! except with a new husband too...and believe me please when I say I wanted nor planned neither! But when it changed funnily enough I was 44 and on the school run...my daughter was in preschool and I was chatting to some younger mums more than half my age infact they could have been my kids the mums they were all roughly the same age as my son! They like me were frantically rushing about,trying to work out all the same things I had tried to work out 20 odd years earlier..how to function with no sleep,how to find jobs that fitted in with school,,lack of money to pay the bills etc and something just clicked inside me..I cant explain it but all the things they were juggling I had already done many years before..it was like seeing a younger me...and I just knew inside that I could do it,It didnt matter if I couldnt get my daughter to eat broccoli or that she wouldnt sleep through or that she had nits,,it all didnt matter ,,it was solvable,The other mums found these things so worrying and consuming because it was new to them,they had the same fears that I had had way back but my fears had left me,I knew I just knew I could do it ....you couldnt make my life up at times honestly you couldnt..2 kids now one 28 one 7 and although I will go through the same things the mums at school will go through I dont have the same sort of angst they have...Life has a funny way of turning out I guess...I have no idea if I will be a better mum I doubt it but I am way more laid back way more content and happier now than I ever was first time around...
I have struggled like you for a long long time. I try to find 'pockets of happiness' which for me is:
time with my children laughing, I have to make myself laugh as I'm the default parent with all the worry, not the fun mum. Tickling my children works wonders, please do this, just all lie on the bed tickling
running, seriously, this has changed me as a person, I process all the crap and no matter how bad I felt before I started, I feel better during and after
mindless chill time searching the internet
baking bread, the kneading bit is very therapeutic
reading to my children, time to connect, they love it
watching my fave genre of tv
being in nature, I love walking in parks or the country
connect with people who love you and reach out to them by arranging simple outings, I find this VERY hard (to reach out) but very rewarding, please do it.
Be kind to yourself most of all.
to the OP
to all the PPs on here.
This thread is GORGEOUS and absolutely the best of MN. And on page 1, I already want to nominate it for classics (in fact, I'm going to!) because of how beautiful it is. I'm in awe of all of you!
@plotmissinginaction, doing regular (exerting) exercise made a massive difference to me. I'm shit at it, but it does give me those endorphins and I love it.
And it's all to do with the way you view the world ("Two men looked out through the prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw the stars")
Also, if your cllr isn't making things better for you, find another counsellor, because they can be amazing. And if yours isn't amazing, find one who is!
x posted with BummyKnocker and totally agree (and with other PPs who said similarly)... finding pleasure in the small things makes soooo much difference.
I have just rung my son ..to discuss this and ask him if he thinks I am happier now and when I became like I am now...he said ..mother its friday night I am eating pizza and watching a film!! But I do know when you got happier...it was when you realized it was ok if you didnt wash up and cut the grass on a sunday! And when you finally stopped huffing about not fitting into your jeans anymore then you were happier...he said goodbye and put the phone down....then just rung me back,,,he said mum been talking to my partner about this I have lost the plot with the film but you were happier when you decided to be you.,,for you and not be who you thought everyone needed you to be....My son is a lot smarter than I thought he was! And that makes me happy too!!!
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