My client, Richard, is dying of lung cancer. He has been a wealthy and successful brain surgeon: seems like Richard should be a happy guy too, right? The truth is, for most of Richard’s life, he was an unhappy alcoholic. Now, in his late 60’s, he is retired, sober and has just a few years left to live a happy life. Sitting in the middle of a crowded and noisy coffee shop, Richard asked me: “Rosie, how do I find happiness?”
I said: “Close your eyes, Richard, and think a happy thought.” Within 2 seconds, a radiant smile came across his face. He opened his eye, which were now sparkling with delight. “Wow. That was easy!”
Meg is depressed, frustrated, and resists even trying to be happy. She sees happiness as overrated, because rarely does she see people happy, so why bother?
Meg has a BIG attachment to what happiness is supposed to be like, and it isn’t happening for her or for most of the people she observes. However, the more attachments Meg has to how it’s supposed to be, the less likely she’ll be happy.
I asked her: “Meg, what needs to shift so that you may have more access to happiness?” Meg was quiet for awhile. She looked angry, crossed her arms, closed her eyes and started to cry. “I’m so afraid to let myself even hope that I can feel happy. I’m resisting any possibility, because I don’t want to feel more disappointment. I can see that I’d have to shift where I focus my attention – away from negative experiences. I’d have to train myself to focus on positive experiences. I’d have to shift my attention and the way I look at things, so my life is more positive.” Meg smiled.