A Chat With the Author:
Rebecca Ray, Author of ‘Be Happy: 35 Habits for Personal Growth and Well-Being’.
It’s Not About Just Feeling Good
My first book has a title that I wouldn’t have chosen personally. It’s called Be Happy: 35 Powerful Habits for Personal Growth and Well-Being. It’s those two little words, ‘Be Happy’, that don’t sit well with me (authors don’t always have a say in what publishers consider will help books jump off the shelves and into the hands of readers!)
You see, if happiness is your goal, then the most valuable experiences you can have – the ones that challenge you to grow, the ones that break you and shape you by their significance – will be lost to your efforts to feel good all the time.
I didn’t write this book to help you feel good all the time, and I know that you probably don’t expect to – but I bet you’d like to! Me too, but unfortunately, suffering is an unavoidable part of our human experience. Still, we often assume others feel a whole lot better than we do or have some kind of happiness secret that we don’t have access to.
I wrote this book to help you live fully, richly, and meaningfully. I wrote it to help show you that you are normal for feeling all the feelings! And I wrote it to show you my favourite practices for well-being that I use in my work as a psychologist (and as a human being trying to live well). In four sections, I show you that there are things we can choose, cultivate, practice, and make space for that help us to find more joy in life, heal from our hurts, and reach our potential. I wanted to wrap these up in a format that you could open at any page to take from it what you need when you need it.
But the caveat is that Be Happy is not a book of answers. It’s not a book that promises your life will be transformed by reading it. It’s a book that gets real about life and pain and how we can move through it, heal from it, and grow into the best version of ourselves that we want to be.
Making Space for Holding Pain Lightly
Here’s an excerpt from Be Happy on Making Space for Holding Pain Lightly:
Beyond the instinct to simply survive, the strongest human instinct we possess is to avoid pain. But if we attempt to live a life without any pain at all, then we make no place for processing tough emotions, or for striving to achieve things, or for simply being resilient to the discomfort that occurs as part of the natural flow of existence. If you fight off emotional discomfort, you only end up feeding the pain and encouraging it to overwhelm you. Running from it, denying it, or trying to cover up or smother it is a recipe for prolonging and intensifying the pain.
What if there is another way? What if I told you that you could do pain differently? I’m sure your interest is piqued here, but I can guarantee that the answer probably isn’t what you expect,because it’s counterintuitive to our natural approach to things that hurt us. The bad news is I don’t have any secret method of exorcising your pain for you. The good news is that this technique is powerful and effective and is not a secret, even if it won’t turn your pain off.
The most effective thing you can do in the face of pain is to accept it. I do not mean you have to like your negative emotions, or want them, or enjoy them. Instead, I mean acknowledging and accepting the presence of pain as part of your experience, without judgment or struggle.
At first, it may seem impossible. I mean, who really wants to accept pain? Isn’t that just an invitation for the pain to have full control over you? Well, surprisingly not. Accepting pain is very different from wallowing in pain. While wallowing in pain is about resistance, helplessness, and a sense of being consumed by it, accepting pain is the opposite. It is about making a conscious choice to drop the struggle with the pain and sit with it in the moment, without letting it drive your choices. By accepting pain, we free up our energy to decide what to do next, even if that’s just in the next minute. Acceptance frees us from being bound to the pain. It allows us to move through the pain to process it and reach the other side.
Here’s to living and loving meaningfully and bravely andholding pain with accepting and courageous hands.
Rebecca Ray Bio:
Rebecca is an Author, Speaker, and Clinical Psychologist. Her message centres on the task of living bravely in the truth of our experiences as finders and seekers of inspiration and connection. Rebecca has been a Clinical Psychologist for 15 years, where she specialised in the treatment of Depression, Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Rebecca’s first book, Be Happy: 35 Powerful Habits for Personal Growth and Well-Being, is available now. She can be found online interacting with her community daily about finding courage and living inspired, expansive lives.
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