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!!!
Op could you not volunteer your time at an old people's home, talking to and providing company for them? Or maybe at a school listening to readers etc? This is surely better then wasting days at home crying. I know that there's no financial gain from it but sometimes just the fact that you made someone elses day makes it a million times more rewarding.
A PP suggested getting your thyroid function checked and while obviously there could be many reasons you feel this way, I can sympathise with a lot of them and I had no idea until it was picked up by chance that it was linked to me having an underactive thyroid. Look after yourself x
I've always been a happy person I don't know why? I've always seen the good in situations and people. I really don't know why I do this as I've had a pretty shit time at certain times in my life, having to deal with loss, money problems and mental heath issues. Throughout all of the shit I've gone through over the years I've always had the outlook that there is always someone worse off. And there'd always is. Apart from anxiety and depression I've had good heath . and in that respect I'm rich beyond riches. I definitely think it all to do with attitude and how you embrace life. Nobody owes you anything and life is what you make it I've got my physical heath and in that rich
Again it all to do with expectations . Years ago we had the expectation you worked for everything you had and be proud of all you have achieved. Now we we see it all on social media and it looks like it all comes easy be it being born in the right family or to have the right contacts that life is amazing from the minute we are born. It just makes the people who don't achieve the same stuff feel shit. Everyone is amazing you don't need the contacts,money relationships house to feel like you have achieved this x
There's a few things that helped me through a mental health crisis last summer.
If you are on social media, come off it, I deleted facebook last summer and my mental health is massively improved.
Stop doing things you don't want to do. I never agree to do anything I don't want to do, I don't accept invitations out of duty or obligation, if it's something I don't fancy I just say no. selfish maybe, but life is too short.
Cut out any toxic or negative people. Spend time with the people you genuinely like.
Hope this thread has given you some good advice and you feel happier soon!
Agree with some other posters it does sound like depression. If you don't like the idea of meds, I found cognitive behavioral therapy very helpful for mine.
Thanks, this thread helped me sleep last night. The joys of insomnia!
I can't do any other exercise than yoga at the moment. I was unwell a few years ago and yoga is the only thing my body will tolerate. I used to run a lot which was so good for my anxiety but I haven't been able to do that for years now. I like yoga though, feels more balanced than what I was doing before which wasn't always very kind to my body.
I used to do voluntary work but I really don't have time. I have too much to do which is why whole days being lost because I cant stop crying is a bit of a disaster!
I think I need to simplify my life. So I can do some down time stuff and be outside more. Also at least one person that I need to get rid of. I think I've been depressed for a really long time now (probably since my dad died and that was about eight years ago!) and I have terrible self esteem due to shitty childhood (fairly chaotic, addiction and violence at home) so I suppose in some ways I am probably not doing so badly. I've never believed I was worth bothering about and I've been searching for the person/thing who will change that but I understand now it has to be me who changes the way I see it.
You sound a really smart cookie OP...you will figure it out I am sure...xx
The only way to be happy is to not expect much. It's taken me over 40 years to realise that!
Take notice of little things when out in nature. The bees, the ants, the trees and birds.
Know that you are part of nature and that you have the power to do good.
Be grateful everyday for being alive!
Been having a think OP..where is your safe place? You know the place you feel you dont have to hide? Is it home? Is home getting you down cos its not how you want it? What are you most fearful of? I think what helped me a lot when I was younger was the what ifs and buts...I would imagine the worst case scenarios all the time and panic and fear would set in...maybe if you could have a think about what the worst thing is for you thats playing on your mind then try to formulate a solution...this could be an imaginary problem so say you lived in a rural spot and you were terrified about loosing your house keys on a cold dark night and having no one to help you what would you do? I have no one to rely on but me..it sounds daft but in your mind you could think this is a disaster and how frightened you would be or you could think right I need a second set of keys cutting and I am going to hide them under the plant pot...only you would know where they were but you are covered cos you now know if you cant ever get in you have thought about it and solved a problem ..you win cos you have already sorted it....shit example I know but daft things like this can make you feel more secure and ease your mind....Laundry was my major bug bear...it used to drive me bananas.I couldnt ever get on top of it ,it was always hanging around the house getting me down until someone said why dont you put it all away unironed...OMG this was a revelation could I really do that? Well yes I could and my house was 50 percent tidier right away.!!! I ironed my stuff when I needed it not tourtured myself by looking at it day in day out...daft stuff but it helped me feel more in control...dont know if any of this rambling will help you but it might give you something to go on in other areas of your life?
My biggest fear is being forced back into secondary education or something similar. It made me so unwell and five years on my health is still not what it once was. That’s why I’ve been pushing so hard, so I can earn money doing work I love and that doesn’t make me feel ill. I’m under pressure to earn by dh. I’ve managed to get small pieces of freelance work but all the interviews I’ve done I’ve been rejected from.
He thinks I should just go back. I know I can’t. I have a diagnosis of CFS. I’m not sure it’s right as I mostly struggle with nausea and pain.
Ok so you have a start ..something to build on..that is so good...Your husband I presume is your best friend? He will I am sure want the absolute best for you...so you need a plan,something to work to and for.My suggestion is a business meeting with your husband,Get the kids to bed and clear the kitchen table! This is done best when you are both not exhausted..dig out all the household bills and tot up what you both realistically need to live on dont skimp on treats cos they are vital to everyone..then see where you both are ....now if you are not miles apart then maybe cur backs could be made to ease the pressure on family finances...switching bills etc do you need 2 holidays a year etc if you do thats fine but if you dont then you have saved...this will allow you to try to find some way to be able to prioritize your job.Make clear your idea that your job will allow you some earning potential in the future but maybe not right now...You cannot and will not sacrifice your own mental health to do something that is unbearable to you and it should not be accepted that you do...but there may be other ways to suppliment your income which may be more acceptable...then test the water for 6 months if you can...set up a facebook page and promote your talents,join an agency to promote you,,leaflet drop you never know ...adverize yourself on the facebook buy n sell sites if its something creative...you already know all this I am sure and I am not trying to teach you to suck eggs but having identified your worst fear then it seems right to have a plan of sorts to work towards...and if it means taking in laundry or something equally tedious in order to earn a bit of cash to get you where you want to be then why not try? It could be dog walking at lunchtime for someone,,cutting beryls grass cos shes too old to do it...it wont matter if you can see where you are going,and why you are doing it.Also what abut contacting someone in your chosen field and asking to shadow then for a few weeks/ months sort of like an apprenticeship kind of thing ? Learning on the job so to speak...you wont earn anything but you will learn and probably much quicker than from a book in an educational setting? Could that work maybe? just some thoughts to try to help maybe ...Crating choices for yourself will help you focus and clear your mind too so might be worth a try...looking at what you can do instead of what you can;t?
Thank you, I think it's all very doable with a bit of time and space. I need to pull together some kind of offer or something. We can actually manage on the one wage but he really resents it. But also I have been ill! And the last two years were pretty consumed by my little boy going through an ASD diagnosis which I did all by myself as he's not so hot with the emotional support stuff. I do know I can not return to school though. It would ruin me.
I feel much more hopeful this morning. Thank you everyone
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.