Why You Need To Take A Sabbatical From “Being Happy”
The Greeks have a word for the state of happiness called “euphoria.” The noun form is euphoros, which literally means “the bearer of goodness.” One of the essential elements in finding euphoria is to be the euphoros — the bearer of goodness — for yourself and for others. So instead of endlessly searching for happiness externally, what if we were to start seeing ourselves as a bearer of goodness?
This means radical generosity, starting with yourself. Unlocking euphoria begins with thinking good thoughts, expressing good feelings, and bringing goodness into your life and the lives of others with good actions. An amazing thing happens when you decide to be the bearer of your own goodness. You become a magnet that attracts good things and good people to your life. You will start to realize that life is actually “rigged in your favor,” and you will naturally experience happiness without having to seek it.
We are all born with an innate goodness.
Think back to your childhood — you probably had that effervescent exuberance and joy, not at all questioning who you were, but spontaneously living in the authenticity of you. Over the years, though, you started to restrict this unabashed way of expressing yourself.
Maybe your parents censored you; your teachers reprimanded and criticized; young love went awry; your classmates might have bullied you. When this happens, you start to lose the connection to your inherent goodness. You lose your sense of safety in the world, and you judge your value as a human being. You think to yourself, “If these things are happening to me, then I must be bad and not deserving of good things.” So you form a crust around your goodness and the world becomes harsh.
You start to chase happiness in accomplishments, in looking for love, possessions, and material success, but happiness can still elude you because you might be missing the golden thread that weaves together the goodness in your life. When we lose our sense of goodness, we lose our sense of self-worth, and life feels futile. But when we know our goodness, every little thing in life has meaning and we are filled with happiness.
For me, a lot of my self-doubts came from my parents’ separation. I was suffering watching my parents suffer, and that caused me a lot of unhappiness. Because things looked bad, life was lacking goodness, and this made me question my own goodness. My joy was dimmed, my unhappiness escalated, and this affected my life.
So I looked for happiness elsewhere since I couldn’t find it in myself: my acting career, men, recognition for my work. When these things didn’t bring me happiness, I had to return to myself. What helped me to rediscover my goodness was doing the inner work and letting go of the unhappy imprints of my story. There were a lot of layers to get past, many of which I worked through in writing my memoir Unbinding the Heart. I rediscovered deeper parts of my goodness, joy, and forgiveness, and that allowed me to assist others along their journey of self-discovery. That brought me a lot of happiness. When you rediscover your goodness, it flows out and spills over to every aspect of your life, enriching other people’s lives.
My advice to you: Take a sabbatical from being happy or unhappy.
It’s too much pressure, and it’s making us narcissistic and self-absorbed, cutting off the circulation to our happiness. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So get off the happiness treadmill and dig a little deeper. Happiness is an inside job. Don’t pursue happiness; just let go of beliefs that have constricted your true nature as a bearer of goodness, and happiness will come. No matter what happened to you in the past or is happening to you now, you are good. Good people do good things, create good, and bring good. Imagine if you woke up one day and said to yourself, “I am a bearer of goodness, and I see the good in everything and everyone, including myself.” You are bound to get very happy very fast!
So practice this mantra: “I am good; therefore, I am happy.”
You will infuse the environment around you with your goodness, and you will experience how the world around you starts to favorably respond. You will attract good things into your life, and you will land in happiness without even thinking about it. This, my dear friends, is the secret to your happiness.
This is an excerpt from Agapi Stassinopoulos’ new book, Wake Up to the Joy of You.
Originally published at www.mindbodygreen.com on January 18, 2017.