I just happened upon this article my sister (psychologist, Charlotte Howard) wrote a few years ago. It has some simple, but powerful, advice on how to build a happy life so I thought I would share!
A friend asked me, based on my experience as a psychologist watching people develop personally and interpersonally, what I think are the three most positively transformative lessons to help people enjoy life. Wow, narrow it to three! Here are a few concepts that I can say for sure change people for the better if they really get these at an emotional level (not just going through the motions-though “fake it ’til you make it” does help in the meantime). The first 2 are for you and relating to yourself and your life, and the last is for relationships, which we all know play an enormous role in how we feel and how much we enjoy each day.
1. What we resist persists. We can’t control our feelings. We can only choose to avoid them. Some people call this “rising above” them, but usually with a little poking the feeling is right under the surface draining their energy. The only way I’ve seen to effectively relieve painful emotions is to embrace them and go through them. The more you can make space to fully feel something, in fact, the more the feeling can transform and release. This idea is counter-intuitive for many of my clients, especially when society tells us to be strong and many parents tell their children to “get over” their feelings or grow up. Suppressing, or saying “no” to an experience that comes to you is, in my opinion, asking for more of that feeling over a longer period of time and sometimes even leads to physical illness.