Sometimes, though, events complicate our search for happiness, and, for many people, happiness can be difficult if not impossible to find. For those of us who have experienced a brain injury, especially those who are early in the process, any hope of finding happiness typically takes a backseat to “just getting through the day in one piece.”
When you’ve had a TBI it can be hard to envision yourself ever being happy, especially when you’re having one of those bad days. You know…one of those when you cannot get off the couch. Or your ears are ringing. Or you have a pounding headache. Maybe you are filled with despair or hopelessness. You feel like a loser who can’t do anything right. You are bewildered and confused by the world around you, and you won’t leave the house. You yearn for your old life back.
We spend most of our time focused on mending our lives and our personal selves as we search for normalcy, almost unaware that happiness exists for some people.
Oh Happy Day
Of course we all want to have those happy times. They are good for us. They help keep us mentally healthy. We want to bask in them and have them wash over us as we live our lives, but maybe we should take a moment to examine happiness.
Happiness is a good thing and we want to be happy and take advantage of it’s benefits, but we need to realize that the reason happiness is so elusive and fleeting is because it is an emotion, just like sadness, and so it is very dependent on the things that are happening around us.
Things make us happy. Events make us happy. We feel happy, because…
It’s important to remember that since happiness is an emotion and not a way of being, it’s not going to allow us to deal with the bad, sad or tough times. Happiness leaves when the chips are down and times are tough because it is a short term, lightweight emotion; it won’t be there to help you live your life. It goes as quickly as it comes and it doesn’t help us be powerful day in and day out.
Are searching for the wrong thing?
Finding happiness after Brain Injury is difficult. Even having those short term, “fun”, light and carefree moments is tough. In my own case I felt as though my brain wasn’t “wired” in that way anymore, although I did notice that I was able to appreciate simpler, everyday moments in a way I hadn’t before.
I thought maybe there was something I could work towards which was not as dependent on external events and was more satisfying.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want to be happy or shouldn’t look for things that make us happy; we need happiness in our life. I am saying, however, maybe we should be striving towards a strength which gets us through thick and thin, which is neither fleeting nor dependent on events around us, which grounds us and prepares us to meet any challenge.
What we are looking for is this: we want to be solid, not flighty; we want something we can be in control of; we want to feel good and we want our good feelings to last. We want something that serves us. What we are searching for is along the lines of inner contentment.
Seeking inner contentment, although difficult for us because of our situation, is more simple than you think, and for this reason: inner contentment is based on simplicity itself, the appreciation of “simple” things. After Brain Injury, when things are so tough, something we are able to do is appreciate the simple things.
Inner contentment requires accepting ourself, in all our glory, for who and what we are.
We should look for things we like to do that bring short-term happiness and fun, all with the goals of building a life we believe in and are proud of, and of reaching inner contentment.
Inner contentment also requires another thing that is difficult for TBI Survivors; that we came to terms with our life, as it is. This means we accept and come to term with all the changes that have occurred, and having that acceptance allows us to get pleasure or satisfaction from living our lives.
Lastly, inner contentment is a skill we learn. Seeking inner contentment is a way to take care of ourselves and to prepare ourselves for life.
When you seek contentment, you search for those ordinary things that make your life worth living and give it meaning. Look at it almost as if you are building your life for the future, a life you can feel good about. That helps build up the inner strength that allows you to get through the tough times and hard times when they come.
Inner contentment comes from us taking care of ourselves and our lives, while seeking it drives us to lead a life worth living which has real meaning.
One of the offshoots of inner contentment is that, through it, you can achieve a state of fulfillment; a state of “feeling good” or a more permanent happiness, a state not dependent on people or events, and one that has staying power.