Happiness can be considered an experience of joy, contentment, and positive well-being combined with a sense of that one’s life is meaningful and worthwhile. However, each of us have our own unique happiness and most of us don’t need this definition to describe our well being. Instead, we instinctively know whether we are happy or not. So where does our happiness come into play in the grief journey?
After the loss of a loved one our personal happiness is often affected and many of us wonder if we will ever attain our previous level of happiness. This forces us to reevaluate what brings us joy in our lives. There are three studied myths to consider when reevaluating our happiness in our grief journey: Happiness must be “found”, happiness lies in changing our circumstances, and you either have it or you don’t.
Myth No. 1: Often happiness is referred to something that we need to find or a place that we need to go. Studies have shown that happiness is significantly determined by our intentional activity or strategies that we consciously implement to remake ourselves. Take your happiness into your own hands and make a move! Although it may sound cliché, happiness is truly inside of us not out there for us to find. A part of finding our new “normal” without our loved one(s) is finding our new approach or perception of our world.
Myth No. 2: The notion that if only something in our lives would change, then we would find happiness. Similar to IF and WHEN thinking, “I would be happy IF____” or “I would be happy WHEN_____.” Many times we try to recapture a moment of happiness, maybe a memory with our loved one in which we felt that we were our happiest. What determined our happiness before our loss is still with us and waiting to be taken advantage of! Our past happiness can pave the way for our future happiness.
Myth No. 3: You are either born happy or not, you can’t teach yourself to be happy or employ happiness increasing strategies. Many of us believe that there is nothing we can do about our level of happiness during our grief journey. However, happiness is not pre-determined and with effort you have the option to utilize happiness strategies that fit your new life or needs.
I encourage you to determine your new happiness on your grief journey and employ happiness-increasing strategies that feel natural to you and that you are motivated to accomplish! A great tool to utilize when reevaluating your happiness is the Person Activity Fit Diagnostic, an activity available online that can help you determine which strategies fit you best in your life after your loss. From expressing daily gratitude to learning forgiveness or letting go of resentment, intentional activities can help us to achieve newfound joy in our lives.
Through tragedy we can choose happiness; each of us has the power to rise above and grow from our suffering.
-Alysia Simons, WARM Place Program Intern