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Don't let guilt steal your happiness

If you're a human being, you feel irrationally guilty - a lot of the time.

Made cereal for dinner three days in a row? Guilty.

Didn't log on to the Zoom webinar? Guilty.

Your home isn't picture perfect? Very Guilty

Your clothes are fitting a little tight? Super Guilty.

Who imposes this sentence of guilt? Our own stupid brains and the idea we're not doing things "right" --whatever the hell that means.

So what happens when you start feeling happy? The Owl of Guilt swoops down to land on your shoulder to remind you that you can't feel happy because ___________________. (Fill in the blank with your own irrational guilt.)

When someone asks you, "How are you doing?" do you smile and exclaim, "I'm so incredibly happy, I could just burst!"? Or is the answer more like a somber, "I'm doing okay."

Why are we afraid to admit we're happy?!?!?

Do we think the Cruel Gods of Happiness will snatch the good feeling away? Do you feel you're attracting bad luck by admitting things are really good? We've been trained to believe happiness is fleeting, but what if happiness is supposed to be the default? What if we're supposed to feel good - all the time?

Learning to admit you are happy can take some time (even admitting it to yourself). But here's the strange thing: once you admit it and embrace it, it gets easier and easier to feel happy.

During this pandemapocalypse, we've all struggled - emotionally, financially, physically. But people are learning they can still feel happy. They wake up appreciating the beautiful day or the fresh peaches or the playful puppy or the chance to have a cup of tea, and if just gets better from there. Happiness builds on happiness.

Here are some ways to cage that Owl of Guilt so you can live happier:

Hang out with happy people. If all your friends are Debbie Downers who moan and whine and complain and bitch, you need new friends. Or at least one happy friend.

Let go of childhood guilt. Yes, some people need a lifetime of counseling to eliminate the guilt heaped on us by parents, teachers, circus clowns, parole officers and other adults in our lives. You've moved on. You're not a bad person. Let your emotions reflect that.

Focus on being kind. It's true that when you find ways to be kind, even just a smile or a nice word, your energy rises.

Notice when you've fallen into Whine. It's okay if fall into "wine" but not "whine". Do your conversations revolve around how miserable you are? You've been laid off, your dog ran away, your girlfriend/boyfriend insists on watching Fox News. Yeah, those things suck, but there are many other things in your life that are great. What are they?

Practice recognizing when you feel good. Embrace that feeling and continue thinking thoughts that feel good. Continue for as long as possible. Repeat as necessary.

What do you think is your biggest guilt obstacle when it comes to happiness?

Peri Kinder is a Happiness Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Meditation Instructor and Humor Columnist.

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