The Happiness Connection  

Don't drink the poison

During the last 30 years, I’ve painted the walls of many rooms.

The best results come when I take the time to fill holes and cracks, sand uneven sections, and make sure the surfaces are clean before I start decorating.

The principle of prepping before painting, applies to many things, including happiness.

I received an email this week from a woman who wants to be happy, but is struggling. She’s plagued by feelings of resentment over unfair treatment in her working life that left her in a difficult financial position.

Can you relate? I know I can.

Getting stuck in negative memories and emotions is a common affliction. It’s not only painful, but it also keeps you from moving forward and finding a sense of peace and contentment.

If I go back to the decorating analogy, you can’t paint or paper over cracks and expect them to vanish permanently. They need to be filled and sanded if you expect the result to be lasting.

Wanting to be happy without addressing emotionally charged experiences that are lying beneath the surface, is futile. It’s a little like putting a Band-Aid on a severed limb.

It’s difficult to choose contentment and joy when you’re consumed with guilt, regret, or bitterness.

The good news for this reader is that she’s taken the first and most vital step already. She’s aware of what’s happening and wants to make a different choice.

The prep work needed if you find yourself in a similar situation, involves releasing the past with forgiveness and embracing the present with gratitude.

What’s in the past is in the past.

There’s nothing you can do to change it. You may feel you were treated badly or misunderstood. It makes no difference. The only way forward is to let all your outrage and negativity go.

I love the accuracy of this quote by Saint Augustine.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Think about that for a minute.

Do you believe the people you hold grudges against are losing sleep over how you feel?

All you’re doing by holding on to these feelings is hurting yourself. Anger isn’t going to change what happened and is likely to keep you from moving forward.

Looking for others to admit they did you wrong, isn’t going to change anything. Your happiness rests on your shoulders, not anyone else’s.

That said, letting go isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many humans find it difficult to release beliefs, feelings, and possessions, even though they’re no longer serving any positive purpose.

It’s as if you don’t know who you are without them.

But believe me, once you let go, the feeling of relief can be life changing. I know this from personal experience.

It doesn’t matter why you’re angry or resentful. Accept your emotions for what they are. You don’t need reasons or proof to support them.

I believe everything that happens in life benefits all who are affected by it. Some things can be devastating, but they come with hidden blessings if you’re willing to look for them.

Growth and resilience come from challenges. Be grateful for the tough times, even if they aren’t fun to experience.

My favourite tool when it comes to releasing resentment, anger, and bitterness is forgiveness.

Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget what happened, but it removes the emotional charge that’s holding you back.

I write forgiveness letters to everyone involved in any situation that’s causing me to hold on to negativity.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to share your words with anyone else. This is about you, and only you.

Forgive the people who caused you so much angst.
Forgive the people who seemed to stand by without coming to your aid.
Forgive yourself for wasting so much of your life being consumed by these events instead of being happy.

Write the letters, read them over and then either burn or shred them. This last step symbolizes your decision to release through forgiveness.

I like to use the Ho’oponopono prayer to structure my letters.

I’m sorry
Please forgive me
I love you
Thank you

I add how I’m feeling to each of these statements.

Don’t skip the letter to yourself. Take responsibility for your actions and emotions. Recognize that you didn’t have to hang onto your baggage and forgive yourself.

Keep writing letters as layers of resentment surface. If you’ve been hanging on to these emotions for months, years, or even decades, you can’t expect them to disappear in one day.

Once you start forgiving the past, consciously increase your level of gratitude for the present.

Keep a gratitude journal.
Every night before you go to sleep, think of three things you’re grateful for that happened that day.
Set a timer on your phone. When it goes off, stop, and think about something you’re grateful for at that moment.

Deliberately look for gratitude in everything. Surround yourself with it.

If you want to be happy and love yourself, but struggle to let go of the past, I recommend you try the above actions.

You may find it difficult to do this work by yourself. Don’t hesitate to contact a councillor or coach if you need assistance. They can help you if you get stuck or need support.

If you want the best results, doing the prep work is always worth the time.

I hope this helps.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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