The best definition for happiness I have been able to come up with is as follows: “Happiness is when how you feel about being happy, and what you think about being happy, are in alignment.”
I would like for you to read that again, especially the “how you feel about being happy” part. Feelings, whether we are aware of them or not, drive our behavior. Humans are emotional creatures; therefore, we can intellectualize about being happy and feed happy thoughts to our brain all we want. However, if our thoughts about happiness are incongruent with how we feel, our personal definition for happiness, as in the first thought that comes to mind, what you feel in your gut is happiness, then guess what wins? Our emotions, of course. These feelings will drive our behavior, once again, whether we are conscious or unconscious about them.
For now, if you want to get very clear about what happiness means to you, get a piece of paper and write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind when you think about it: I’m talking about the good, the bad and the ugly. This is the time to get real! The more honest you can be, the more answers you will get as to why happiness seems so elusive. These are your feelings and they have been the ones driving your actions.
The best news is that these feelings can be totally changed to be congruent with your thoughts.
This month’s column is an invitation: I would like for you to join me, as I have started a meet-up group for people dealing with anxiety and stress who want to talk freely in a relaxed and non-judgmental environment.
Stress is two things. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Then, we also have the way that we respond to that challenge – that’s also called stress. And our response to that challenge has a physiological component that affects our body.
Anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” It can affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can seriously affect day-to-day living.
After working with individuals and groups for the past five years, I have realized that so many of us deal with emotions that can sometimes seem to take over our lives. Starting these free group meetings is a way for me to connect with our community, to help those who are willing to reduce their anxiety and stress and to develop a sense of connection and belonging. It is my understanding that as human beings, we are hard-wired for connection: each of us wants to feel seen, heard and valued.
Have you ever felt irritated and did not understand why? Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it hard to focus on just one thing? Have you either gained or lost a substantial amount of weight rapidly? Does happiness seem like a fantasy to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I know I can help you.
Starting in February, there will be two weekly meetings in Danbury, Connecticut: one in Portuguese on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and one in English on Thursdays, also at 7 p.m.
Availability is extremely limited and works on a first come, first serve basis. To RSVP, contact me at (914) 562-7752.
Eric Faria is an Anxiety & Stress Reduction Specialist, Podcaster, Speaker and Columnist. He produces and hosts the TV Show I AM with Eric Faria, available on YouTube. The show is also a podcast on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. To contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.