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How these three little words can seriously affect your mental health

Jun. 6, 2017
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Get good grades, go to college, get a good job, make money, get married, have a family, then you’ll be happy. Right?   

Growing up we are conditioned to believe that what we have is never enough. We are driven to constantly grasp at happiness instead of embracing its very existence. With statistics indicating that over 15 million adults are diagnosed with depression each year within the U.S, perhaps it’s time for us to realize that our life formula doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. 

Have. Do. Be. The perfect recipe for disaster. Have the new job, Do successful things, Be happy. Seems logical, right? But let’s say that job that took you years to get really isn’t working out, or your new boss is a jerk and you know that promotion is never coming. Soon, that successful and fulfilling road to happiness you’ve been planning for your entire life begins to drift farther and farther away, until it’s completely out of sight, leaving you back at square one and still unhappy.   

Between our unrealistic expectations and our soul-crushing life agendas, we set ourselves up for disappointment. So what if we reverse that Have, Do, Be formula? What if that key to happiness already exists within us?

Repeat after me: “I am enough.” 

This is phrase we frequently forget to remember, let alone say out loud. So now brace yourself ladies and gents, let's flip the life formula around: Be, Do, Have. Be happy, do successful things, have the new job. 

Many of us have heard of that famous law of attraction, yes? Basically, this mystical phenomenon states that what we put out into the world, whether positive or negative, is what we will receive back in our own lives. Happiness attracts happy things. 

So now let’s think about the “Be” part. I always think it’s funny when I tell someone that I’m happy and they ask me why, like I have to come up with some reason that fits their expectations of what people can be happy about. Can’t I just be happy? 

With this in mind, it’s important to make a choice for yourself. Do you want to be happy, or do you want to preoccupied? I hate to break this to you, but every emotion we have is an inside job: nobody and nothing (except perhaps faulty brain chemistry) can make you feel a certain way.  To quote the great Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” That’s not to say we shouldn’t be upset about the mean thing our supposed friend said about us, or about being dumped by someone who we thought we were going to spend forever with. But what if we didn’t allow these things to define us? What if the sad things were just simply sad things?  

To be clear: I get that shifting your mindset might not be enough to combat the chemical imbalance of a mental illness (like depression or bipolar disorder). But “choosing to be happy” can mean a lot of things. Maybe it means finally taking the plunge and getting a therapist, or recommitting yourself to medication, or getting real with yourself about the kind of self-care you need to feel at home in your life and body. “Choosing to be happy” just means putting yourself--and your happiness--first, whatever that looks like for you.

So now let’s state the two most powerful words anyone can utter about themselves: “I am.” I am worthy. I am lovable. And finally, once you’ve worked your way up to it: I am happy. As difficult as this may seem at times, it’s a choice, it’s your call, and it’s yours to keep. Be happy; do extraordinary things; and, finally, have that new job, new car, or new relationship--but let them all just be extras, little life bonuses, because baby, you’re enough!