Refusing to Feed Misery

I’ll admit something: I was in a bad mood today. I was miserable, and there hundreds of reasons for it. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough talent.

So I dreamed about a brand new house, a better job, being able to be closer to my family, being a different person. Etc.

It didn’t make me any happier.

I kept on my quest to making myself further miserable by feeding that misery with reasons to feel unhappy. I created a lot of problems for myself. I kept telling myself: if only I could have this, I would be happy. Or, if only I could be different, I would be happy.

As I looked at a nice floor plan for a dream house and imagined the perfect finishes, in the back of my mind I knew I was lying to myself. Because that dream house wouldn’t change very much about my life at all. I would still wake up in the morning and have the same routine. I would have the same people around me on a daily basis–my husband and my two children. I would cook the same food. I would look the same. I would live the same.

How in the world would having a better house/car/bank account/etc. make me happy?

It wouldn’t.

And that led to my discovery: my misery today came before the reasons. I was in a bad mood for no good reason. I have an amazing life right now. But I felt a little cranky and I fed it until I felt like my life was horrible and I found myself in my pajamas at noon not wanting to do anything, dreaming of my mansions above.

So. There are many times when we have negative feelings that are completely independent of the reasons behind them. But it’s hard when you’re feeling anger or stress or discouragement to realize you don’t have to feel that way. The reasons you think caused the feeling don’t have have to keep causing that feeling, and maybe aren’t really the cause in the first place.

We can choose how we feel.

So many times I find myself feeling some negative emotion and I’m not sure why and so I invent so many reasons behind it to try to explain it. But when I feel happy, I never need a reason. I’m just happy. So sometimes I should just let myself be sad. Or miserable or discouraged. Or whatever. Just for a moment. It’s okay, but I don’t have to keep feeding that emotion with made-up stories.

I can instead just choose not to feel that way anymore.

It’s hard to distance yourself from what you are thinking and feeling, but if you take the effort to do so, you can realize that sometimes those negative emotions don’t need some external fix. All they need is you to shut the door on them and move on.

Forgiveness is a huge part of this for me: forgiving other people quickly and not holding onto the negative emotion. Because a lot of times, if you’re angry or unhappy or fighting with someone, it is just such a small thing. And our emotions make it so big. So even if that small thing gets resolved, the emotions are still there. We have to give up on that anger and the hurt and just choose to be happy; choose to move on.

I got dressed today and I cleaned my house and I acted like everything was all right–because it was! I got into a bad place, but I didn’t have to stay there. It was my choice to be miserable. It was my choice to be happy.

I had a wonderful time shooting an arrow at my daughter–which sounds bad, except for it was a toy arrow and I missed almost every time and when I did hit her once, she thought it was hilarious. And that moment of happiness I could have missed out on if I would have chosen to wallow.

You can choose to be grateful. To smile and to laugh. You can choose to serve others and to do good things.

You can choose to ignore your first-world problems and realize that they don’t make you miserable. You make you miserable.

This isn’t new information, but it’s still hard to actually put into practice. When you feel anger/sad/discouraged/guilty, it feels legitimate. It hurts sometimes, and you want something/someone to blame for that hurt.

Letting go of the hurt can be hard. But it’s worth it, because when you do, you can be happy.

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2 thoughts on “Refusing to Feed Misery

  1. I read some advice on this once and it really helps. We all feel bad sometimes and instead of trying to ignore it or bury it or feed it or whatever, the author suggested setting a timer for 30 minutes or whatever you wanted and let yourself feel bad for those thirty minutes and then get up and move on. It allows you to feel bad sometimes without letting it take over your life.


  2. I needed to read this! Thanks for the post! I also like your mom’s comments. Being ok with feeling these natural feelings, but not letting them linger.


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