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The pursuit of happiness versus allowing joy

by / Tuesday, 18 February 2014 / Published in Uncategorized

I received a text the other day that said, “Are you deeply happy my love?!”

It made me stop and think. Happy?

As I pondered the word and if it describes how I feel, I felt a disconnect. I didn’t resonate with “happy.”

A week later, I led my local Sisterhood Circle and asked the women to share one thing that they had a hard time accepting about themselves and how it has served them. When it was my turn to share, I remembered my friend’s text.

The thing I had a hard time accepting about myself was my anger. I was so angry. Livid. Incensed. Rip roaring mad. I had a chip on my shoulder and I was told by a few people how they couldn’t deal with my anger.

I don’t blame them. It would slip out of me and I would project my anger onto others.  Yelling was very common in my Italian family growing up. We were conditioned to hold grudges, get angry, yell and make big gestures with our arms.

I could never understand my anger and tried to suppress it because it scared me. It put me in precarious positions. It attracted danger.

I also had a hard time accepting how unhappy I was. I was serious. I saw more of what was wrong and missing than what was right and working.

But I wasn’t interested in the pursuit of happiness. I was interested in the pursuit of truth and freedom.

I wanted depth more than I wanted happiness.

I wanted freedom more than I wanted happiness.

So I learned how to channel the anger and turn it against myself, burning through my ignorance. I stopped getting mad at others and started getting mad at the limited beliefs that I had bought into. I used the anger to cut the cord from the past and find my own freedom. Anger became the fuel for releasing and letting go of the doubts, fears and blocks. Anger became a tool.

The more I released anger, the more I discovered the grief underneath. I went from fire to water. The grief flowed out of me like a river. The tides overwhelmed me and I felt like I was going to drown. But I kept going in pursuit of my truth and freedom.

As the river slowly came to a trickle and I let go of so much, the anger dissipated. I couldn’t find it any longer. I had cracked open the hard shell of anger around my heart and became a soft, mushy puddle of love.

When I finally let go of so much that was holding me back, the shell that protected me from getting hurt, I finally could allow the joy that lay like gold on the bottom of the river.

Joy.

That’s the feeling I resonate with. That’s the feeling inside my chest.

I am deeply experiencing joy.

It’s not something I have to pursue. It’s not something I have to get to and “find.” It’s simply right there in my heart, bursting through like a new sprout in the soft soil. All I had to do was break through the old admonitions that were covering up the joy inside my heart and allow. Allow joy.

3 Responses to “The pursuit of happiness versus allowing joy”

  1. Oh how I resonate with this. Yes, I’ve been angry, grrr! Yes, I’ve been destructive and ferocious in my pursuit of truth. I don’t do well with happy niceties. I want depth, and I rarely find it. The deep waters of sadness and self-hatred have mostly been traveled alone. But I am emerging and I am ready to support others who are in the thick of it. Where are you ladies? I’m calling you forth from your isolated holes. Together we will explore the terrain of what I am calling the lost art of living- Love Joy Intimacy & Intuition. Thank you Tanya for your brave voice. I am your witness and it feeds my soul.

  2. I honor your vulnerability. Your message is another reason why I love facilitating the breath work I do — holding a safe and sacred space for others to express their anger and rage fully and completely on a cellular level. It’s such a powerful and potent tool.

    Blessings to you, Tanya on your journey. Much love – Taylore

  3. Lloyd Hansen says : Reply

    The phrase “the pursuit of Happiness” comes from the Declaration of Independence, and its meaning in the 18th century was very different from the common understanding in our time. When Jefferson wrote it, the phrase meant the Practice of happiness, a state of psychic wellbeing that arises from within – not the chasing after something (experiences, possessions, relationships, status, etc.) outside oneself. It seems to me that your negative reaction to being asked if you are happy is a healthy rejection of the modern idea that the conveyers of happiness lie outside ourselves, and that your exploring deep truths is completely coincident with Jefferson’s phrase. It can be easy to miss deep truths stated in the past because of the meanings they convey in our current cultural context.

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