My Journey to Happier
Where are you on the happiness ladder? If one is living your worst possible life and ten is living your best possible life, what number would you give yourself, right here, right now?
If you had asked me that question about six years ago, I would have said a four or a five. On the outside, you might have seen me and thought I was happy.
I had a great job where I got to help people. I made enough money to pay my bills, save, and have fun. I had a partner who was in love with me, and supportive family and friends. On the outside, you might have thought I was happy, but on the inside, I definitely wasn’t.
On the inside, I was bored with myself and my work. I had been In my position for 16 years and I was tired of it. I would get hits of dopamine fairly regularly mostly helping someone who thanked me or winning an award or some big accomplishment and I would feel happier for a while and then I would go right back down to meh, (Picture the meh emoji). I was grateful for all that I had but I couldn’t help feeling like it wasn’t enough. I wanted more of something but if you asked me, I probably wouldn’t have been able to say what it was that would have made me feel happier.
No matter how many people I was able to help or how many accolades I received, I mostly felt not good enough. Have you ever felt not good enough? It’s not a path to happiness. Even worse than feeling not good enough, I compared myself to other people and they were always smarter, happier, more successful, more loved… more than me… better than me.
Mark Twain has a great quote – “Comparison is the death of joy.” So true!
If you want to feel miserable, that is a sure-fire path to unhappiness.
Then, one day, I’m reading the Boston Globe and on the front page, there’s an article about Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a professor at Harvard. He’s teaching a Positive Psychology class (How To Be Happier) and he becomes famous because more students at Harvard want to take his class than any class in Harvard’s history.
Fortunately, I got to study with Tal and learn there are things you can do every day to increase your happiness. Now, if you ask me where I am on the happiness ladder, I would say a seven or eight consistently each day.
The goal of Positive Psychology is not to be a ten all the time. If you were happy all the time, no one would like you! That is not real. Instead, the goal is to feel all of our emotions from anger, disappointment, frustration, grief to joy, contentment, love and everything in between. Tal refers to this as “permission to be human.”
The Positive Psychology practice that helped me most was Three Good Things. For the past six years, every night before I go to sleep, I write down at least three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. Where before I looked for ways I wasn’t good enough or where other people were better than me, now I focus on the good things and practice gratitude for all that I have in each day. It has made a huge difference for me and it can help you, too! What we focus on is what we see. No matter how difficult a day is there is always something good we could choose to focus on if we practice three good things.
Eventually, I was able to have the courage and strength to leave the position that became harder and harder to feel satisfied in and I started my own business. It wasn’t a smooth transition – a lot had to crash down around me - I lost my partner; I lost friends, and I had to spend time healing from all that happened to me.
But now, I am so much happier! I’m living my dream – to be able to speak to teachers and students; community and corporate groups and teach others the science-based practices that have helped me. I’m coaching clients to feel happier in many different aspects of their lives and I self-published a journal, Be Happier.
My purpose is to make a positive difference in the lives of as many people as possible, to help people feel happier! I think the world could benefit from a few more happier people, don't you?
Pam Garramone, M.Ed., is an award-winning speaker who presents positive psychology -the science of happiness- to students, educators, and corporate and community employees.
Through professional training and meaningful personal practices, Pam has found that the smallest changes make the biggest difference. You can truly become happier through the development of a new mindset and simple yet powerful exercises. Pam has shared her insights with thousands of stressed out and over-burdened youth and adults who have learned that feeling happier is simple when you practice happiness habits.
In addition to being an in-demand speaker, Pam is a positive psychology life coach, founder of Thrive Now Boston, a Happiness Incubator and author, Be, Happier.
For more information, visit www.pamgarramone.com.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (617) 921-3658