Non-Hippy Happy: Building the Happiness Habit
Firstly, full disclosure, I am pretty hippy. Not in a tie-dyed, groovy maaaan, recreational drugs, ‘drop in any time it’s an open house’ way.
Not at all. I can’t stand tie-dye. I certainly don’t speak like that. I’m as square about drugs as its possible to be without actually being law enforcement personnel and if you try and come to my house without an invitation I won’t answer the door. I like block colours, received pronunciation, virgin drinks, appointments, and actually being dressed when you arrive.
But in terms of happiness, wellness and emotional health – I’m a meditating, affirmation reciting, mantra chanting, mandala wearing, yoga class attending, flower-crown loving and therapy advocating hippy.
But I was asked ‘how to stay positive, without being all hippy dippy about it’ and this is my answer.
I know it’s frustrating, but to answer, I need to question this question:
What’s hippy and what’s dippy about being happy?
If being hippy is questioning the main-stream, taking action for wellness, being kind and doing things which are different if they benefit us and the world then to me, that seems powerful and not dippy at all.
Sometimes we want a certain result – in this case feeling positive and happy, but we don’t want to make the changes that may be necessary in order to gain that result.
Is there a worry that we will ‘stand out’ or look ‘weird’ if we do some of the things we want to do in order to be happy?
What will our partners think if we start meditating and chanting at dawn?
How will our friends react if we change the conversation every time they get into a downward spiral of moaning and complaining?
Who will we be when we start to change ourselves like this?
Scary stuff, I know. But here’s the thing – maybe what you are calling hippy and dippy is actually what you are feeling drawn towards. Sometimes we can absorb and assimilate other people’s voices and views as our own. Has someone laughed or made fun of you for doing something they consider odd or unusual? Do you believe it’s odd? Whose voice is it, criticising? We can forget that’s their view of the situation and not a fact.
Calling something hippy is an easy way to dismiss it, and not have to think about it. It’s simple to say ‘it’s hippy’ and then you don’t have to face it, you can forget about it and not deal with it. It can be a way for people to maintain their own view point on a situation and not to have their ideas and world view challenged.
But I call resistance on that way of thinking. What are we scared of? Changing, realising we have power over our mood, and becoming happier?
Lots of people worry that positivity isn’t realistic, that if you are positive you’ll just be living in a fantasy land and ignoring the facts.
Staying positive isn’t about denying the problems, it’s about seeing and acknowledging the negative, but choosing to focus on something positive with that.
You can be angry, you can be sad, cry, rage, but once you’ve felt that initial emotion you are making a conscious decision to focus on something constructive rather than dwelling on the problem constantly. And let’s be honest, dwelling hasn’t been especially successful in the past and there’s no guarantee it will be now.
So why do we do it? Sometimes we can fall into the comforting familiarity of feeling low.
It’s oddly satisfying. You expect things to go wrong and when they do, you are vindicated. You were right to expect challenges, if you hadn’t you would have been wrong and maybe uncomfortable, maybe disappointed. Or you worry and avoid a problem and that seems like confirmation that worrying keeps you safe…so you anticipate problems again, imagining this is somehow protecting you.
It’s tough, I’ve been there myself and still go there sometimes, but let’s shift that cycle.
You can acknowledge the problem without dwelling on it.
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It’s tempting to tell ourselves that we’ve given up, we’ll just be sad, there’s no way to be happy, that joy is not available for [disabled/older/larger/smaller/chronic pain/low income/incurable/etc] people like us. But once again, come back to the voices – who is saying this and why should you believe them?
Everyone can feel sad but there’s a difference between feeling it and running it over in our heads, spiraling downwards, and repeating scripts.
We can learn how to raise our spirits generally – it’s emotional exercise to build a happiness habit.
How to begin?
– Practice finding joy in day to day life.
– Practice listening to your voice and following your needs.
How do you stay happy? Are you a happy hippy? Let me know in the comments!