When Life Hands You Lemons… (True Happiness)

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So, sometimes life takes you sideways.

Ever have those moments in life when something unexpected shakes up all your plans and derails you from where you were going for a while?  At first all you can do is look at it and say, “Well dang!”  Most people do.  I happen to be experiencing one of those moments myself.

It is easy to think that if we were just doing things “right” we wouldn’t have these problems.  It is easy to let these times harm our long-term happiness.  Who can be happy while saying, “Well that sucks.”  Right?

Well, not so fast.

It turns out that true, sustained happiness doesn’t come from always having rainbows and butterflies. We need storms and mosquitoes too.

Sustained happiness comes from both feeling well and functioning well – living a life of meaning and self-realization.  Functioning well means that there must be a degree of trial and challenge.  We need the storms to appreciate the sunshine (and vice versa).  We need challenge and struggle to grow – to have meaning and self-realization.

Dr. Alia Crum, a researcher at Stanford University, has written that we can cultivate longterm happiness if we “make a conscious mindset change that focuses upon experiencing all emotions in the service of valued actions, rather than focusing on increasing positive emotion and reducing negative emotion through the achievement of particular outcomes. ”  In other words, it’s all in the mindset.

If we accept that life has trials, challenges and mosquitos, and that there is benefit in experiencing them. we can be happy in spite of (or maybe even because of) them.  If we allow ourselves to experience negative emotions, and use them to move us forward, the positive emotions become more meaningful.  There is joy in experiencing life in all its ups and downs.

You’ve heard the expression, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  With a sustained happiness mindset you can do so much more.

When life hands you lemons…

  • say thank you
  • experience the sourness
  • let yourself be grumpy for a while
  • juggle them
  • make fruit art
  • turn them into a tasty garnish
  • zest them
  • make a necklace
  • make a battery
  • share them
  • [insert your idea here]

When life goes sideways it’s okay to say, “Well dang!’  Just remember to also say, “Thank you!”