If you’re unhappy, you’re looking the wrong way

We all have a void. For some it’s deeper than others. Much deeper. Very few people on this planet are fully fulfilled, self-actualized, and happy.

Why is this?

We’ve all heard the old adage “money can’t buy happiness” but so many people including those who already have large amounts of money, believe that it does. Money can buy things. Money can bring power. But those with money and power always seem to be fighting. Do we all need some amount of money to survive? Of course. But it won’t fill the void. Studies show that individuals who win the lottery are some of the happiest people on the planet…For up to a year. Then what?

What about sex? Sex is great…most adults like sex. But again, a source of so much pleasure ends up being a source of pain for many people. Infidelity, sex and porn addictions, empty relationships based on physical attributes and material things.

We spend our lives trying to obtain things that will make us happy and what happens? The pleasure obtained from a new car, a new purse or a hot date is only temporary.

Stop looking outward. What’s going on inside you? Every desire to one up someone, to put someone down, to obtain more stuff than them, or better stuff, or to have power over them is a mask. I guarantee it. It’s a veil to hide the ugly, the hurt, the shame, the emptiness, the insecurity, the perceived weakness.

What if we faced these “weaknesses” head on? What if we came clean? Not with anyone else, but with ourselves? That takes courage. Much more courage than working long hours to get a promotion so that you have more power and more money to show off to the next person.

Why do we argue? Because our spouse, family member, friend, or the passerby isn’t acting the way we think they should act. We want to control them, fix them, show them how they should act. Prove to them they are wrong.

 Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I need to look at my part in everything. I always have a part in what makes me unhappy. I choose what to watch on T.V., I choose who I spend my time with and I choose where I focus my energy. I’ve spent most of my life putting a lot of effort into foolish things. Foolish effort. No matter how hard I tried to “fix” my life I was still unhappy.

I finally realized that all my work was outward and very little was inward. And my effort was impulsive and empty. Though my intentions were good, I was going about it the wrong way.

How do we change our perspective from outward to inward? Here’s what’s helping me:

·         Daily mediation (morning, evening or throughout the day, just stopping to experience the moment and to get my head out of the past and the future)

·         Daily gratitude (every morning, being grateful for all the blessings in my life)

·         Daily self-inventory (what can I do better today, what did I do well?)

·         Practicing self-love (practicing is the key word here…taking care of myself on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level. Actively telling myself that I forgive myself and I love myself…I promise this is more powerful than you think)

·         Practicing forgiveness (a wise friend once told me “Resentments are like taking poison hoping your enemy will die.”

We all need to recover. Maybe it’s not from heroin. It could be from years of self-indulgence, self-loathing, or unhealthy relationships. It can be from trauma, financial stress, or eating disorders. Could be several of these things and more.

Whatever it is, let’s stop pointing fingers and wasting time trying to figure out where it started or who’s to blame. Let’s start looking for a solution in the right direction. Inward.

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Author: Andrea Antczak

I'm a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III and I've been working in inpatient and outpatient settings in Cincinnati and Dayton Ohio for the last five years.

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