Show Notes:

Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth, and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear, comparison, and self-doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living, and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today and every day.

Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to Episode 63 of Hello, Rebecca Ray. Today we’re talking about the counterintuitive path to happiness. Just a small content warning here, I do mention suicide in this episode. So please go gently, if that’s something that is a trigger for you.

Now, the reason I want to talk about the counterintuitive path to happiness is because I think the past couple of years have had us all reevaluating what’s truly important. A global pandemic, being locked down with yourself and perhaps even with people that you love, is the time that you start thinking about, am I living the way I truly want to live. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have the answers to make adjustments, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we know the things that we want to change or reevaluate.

I don’t blame you if the word happiness ignites complex feelings within you that are anything but happy as a result. You know, there’s a kind of hashtag happiness focus that we have as a society that really appears to be missing the mark with our individual and collective mental health. The statistics are horrifying. We lose nearly eight Australians to suicide each day. And in any one year, over 2 million Australians experience anxiety, and around 1 million will experience depression.

If you’d like to explore more for mental health facts and resources, I really encourage you to check out beyond blue. They have such an amazing website with a stack of statistics and really helpful resources if you’re one of those people who have been suffering with depression and or anxiety or some kind of psychological distress.

But you know, it seems that we’ve been seduced into believing that happiness is our default or normal emotional state. Let me assure you that the reality couldn’t be further from the truth at all. What’s normal is to feel all the feelings but I’ll get to that in a moment.

We’re easily convinced that if we don’t feel happy 100% of the time, then something must be wrong. So we search for it in all the places the media tells us everyone else has apparently found it. Like achieving supermodel looks or taking overseas holidays now that we can travel again, or reaching CEO before the age of 30. Plus having a relationship that’s worthy of hashtag couple goals. And with a brand new SUV in the driveway and perhaps a four bedder in the city, hey.

Enough of us have tried to follow the advertised formula haven’t we? Attempting to chase, buy or acquire happiness almost always leads us to focus on what’s lacking, and in turn to feel worse about ourselves and our circumstances. The truth is that happiness like any other feeling is transient.

It’s an emotional state that will come and will go. Like satisfaction, confusion, contentment, frustration, or any other emotion that shows up as a result of our daily lives. And emotions are inherently unreliable markers of quality of life. Because a, we can’t control them any more than we can control tomorrow’s weather. We can influence them, but we can’t directly control them and b, living meaningfully requires that we experience the full spectrum of feelings, not just the ones painted with rainbows and unicorns.

In other words, please don’t feel bad if you occasionally feel bad, because we all do psychologists included but I’m not saying you can’t be happy. I’m saying that your power lies in how you define happiness, and what you do to create it. Happiness is so much more than just the potential positive emotions that show up fleetingly in response to external circumstances, like your bank balance, dress size, or the number of likes you received on your last Instagram post. It’s also the richness of a life lived with love, accomplishment, engaging activities, and a sense of purpose.

So I’m here to suggest in this episode, that you reclaim your power over the quality of your life, and your well being with these five strategies for thriving that don’t depend on always having to feel good.

Number one, know what matters to you. Don’t let the media hoodwink you into believing its version of what should matter to you. The truth is, you already know. By getting clarity on your values, you build the basis for where your time and energy is best used to live fully, meaningfully and with vitality. The only catch is you then need to number two, do what matters. Know what matters to you first, and then do what matters. Because actions count. If you want to shortcut to positive feelings, then do good to feel good. Reach out to your people with gestures that show your love. Be an agent for random acts of kindness and buy a coffee for the person in line behind you at Starbucks. Donate your time to help kids learn to read or donate your money to the charity that has your heart.

Never underestimate how making a positive difference to others will make a positive difference to you. The trick is to remember we must number three, except the risk of caring. This is where we usually trip up. We want to do what matters but find it difficult to navigate the pain that might show up along the way. Caring means we can’t have one without the other. We can’t love and not risk heartbreak. We can’t try and not risk failure. But do you really want the alternative of doing nothing with your life? Do you?

Do you really want to shut down and not care? I didn’t think so. Then number four, look inward, not outward. Walk your path guided by your intuition, your heart and what you’d like to say about how you lived your life. When looking back from your final days. Stay blinkered to comparison with others that feeds a mindset of scarcity. And finally, number five, keep your mental time travel to a minimum. What if you could experience happiness right now. Beware of the mind that fixates on the problems of yesterday, or lives only in anticipation of tomorrow. We invite far greater psychological freedom when we practice responding to the present moment, as it’s occurring right now.

So instead of trying to purchase your way to happiness, or trying to change yourself to achieve some kind of distant advertised happiness, if you look a certain way, or act a certain way, I’m encouraging you to follow the counterintuitive path to happiness, which is one, to know what matters to you, two, do what matters to you. Three, except the risk of caring, four look inward, not outward and five, stay in the present moment by keeping your mental time travel to a minimum

I’ll meet you on the road less travelled the one defined by what truly matters deep down, and that heads in the direction of living bravely and meaningfully today. And I’ll catch you very shortly for the next episode of Hello Rebecca Ray.

Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, then the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review. Because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay. Make sure to subscribe, and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.