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Taking A Stand - On Happiness


Phoenix Rising Founder
(From my blog)

Years ago, in the depths of ME/CFS, I took a course called the EST Training (now called the Forum) which was designed to increase one's vitality and participation in life. The course worked - altho I still had ME/CFS afterwards - it did increase my vitality enormously.

Taking A Stand - One of the things they talked about in the course was taking a stand on who one is in daily life. Take the issue of happiness. Most of us think of happiness as something that's a function of our circumstances; that is, if we're healthy, have money, are in a good relationship, have money, etc. we should be happy (and often are) happy. Happiness is not something we take a stand on; its something we either have or don't have. If we don't have it we often spend alot of time and money trying to put ourselves in a position where we think it'll show up; walla! we'll be happy.

Obviously there's something to that - we're generally more happy when we have the things (health, money, opportunity, etc.) that we think bring happiness. But are our circumstances the true root of our happiness? Or have we gotten it backwards - does true happiness come before whatever circumstances we are in? In EST they suggested that one can take a stand for happiness; that one can in effect commit oneself to being happy and out of that , not out of our circumstances, happiness will flow. How much easier (and less expensive!) that would be if true.

I think this is an important concept for ME/CFS patients simply because they have so many reasons for being unhappy; they're ill, their relationships are often problematic, they often have little money, they're uncertain about the future , etc.....If you look at their circumstances there are few reasons to be happy and many reasons to be unhappy.

A Big Upset. In the EST terminology people with ME/CFS are likely to be in a big 'upset'. Upsets occur when your expectations are not met and few of the expectations we have in our society (health, financial well-being, family, career, etc.) are met when you have a disease like this. This suggest that most people with ME/CFS are inevitably caught in a huge upset with all the mental, emotional and physiological turmoil that that implies. How could they not be with all that has become upended in their lives.

But how to be happy when your circumstances are telling you -based on your conception of happiness - that it's impossible to be happy? One way is to make a commitment to being happy based on nothing but your commitment; ie. to become committed to coming from happiness rather than searching for it.

Thanks for Sharing! What happens when you say I'm committed to being happy? Your mind immediately kicks in giving you all the reasons you should not be happy; i.e. you feel like crap, you're ill, etc. What to do with this on the face of it's quite logical reasoning? Simply Thank It For Sharing and then return to your commitment to being happy.

Note that happiness does not feel a certain way - that judging whether your commitment is working based on how you're feeling is just another attempt to fit your emotional state to your circumstances. Happiness doesn't feel a certain way - its a commitment - its a place to come from, not a place to arrive at. You never real 'get there' - you come from there. Above all it is not way to force down unhappiness or paper over unhappiness. The process only works if you acknowledge those feelings (Thank Them For Sharing!) and then re-commit yourself.

I really didn't get the Taking A Stand concept when I did EST but I think I'm starting to now. I'm not that good at it but when it works it really works. My sense is that it cannot but be helpful and healthful. I highly recommend trying to take a stand on happiness or whatever positive emotion you wish.