If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re committed to a higher level of happiness, health, and vitality than the average person. I am too. I've been on a quest for happiness since I first learned the word namaste, and it continues to be a part of my daily experience.
The challenge we seekers face is that many thought leaders, books, courses, and so on, offer us the keys to happiness—as if happiness something that can be found in a few hours, locked in with a simple affirmation. But that's just not true. Happiness is about commitment. And I know that word freaks a lot of us out. But stick with me and I’ll help you understand why it’s actually incredibly empowering.
When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with a debilitating case of the skin condition called psoriasis. It’s an autoimmune disease where your skin regenerates rapidly, causing thick, scaly, white, and extremely itchy patches of skin. Instead of getting it on just a few areas of my body, mine was so severe that it covered 90 percent of my skin. About ten years after that diagnosis, I also developed psoriatic arthritis, which left me nearly bedridden and unable to walk without severe pain for the better part of five years.
I share this because, for many years of my life, happiness felt like a pipe dream. It was meant for other people, not me. Because the amount of physical and emotional trauma I experienced daily didn’t really leave room for joy.
Around the age of 20, I finally discovered the wonderful world of self-help. It felt like I’d found a portal a magical kingdom. It was thrilling. I learned that my thoughts create my reality, that affirmations can heal, and so much more. While I still believe all this, it wasn’t until years later that I realized how much more there was to this journey.
No matter how many times I repeated my affirmations, psoriasis continued to ravage my skin. I felt the tremendous pressure of trying to have completely pure and positive thoughts at all times, so a single negative thought couldn't seep through and influence my reality. Many people think this is what it takes to be happy.
I am here to tell you that it’s not. The commitment that creates real and lasting happiness in your life is a commitment to compassion. For yourself and others. Beating yourself up for not thinking or being perfect is the exact opposite of what will make you happy.
To help you get started on this journey of self-compassion, here are three steps I’ve used to cultivate it within myself.
1. Get real about where you are on the journey.
It’s really easy for people in the self-help world to give you a few “spiritual Band-Aids” for your pain, but that’s doing you a disservice. The only way to truly transform and heal is to get get vulnerable.
So take out your favorite journal or write an email to yourself and get it all out. What are you angry about? Why do you feel betrayed? When did this all start? Whatever comes up for you, acknowledge it, process it, and release it once and for all. You might have to re-release often. It might be every day for a while. Everyone’s journey is different. No matter what, just be patient with yourself.
2. Create rituals that work for you.
Everyone will have their own rituals—practices that make YOU feel safe and whole and capable. Take some time to figure out what those things are for you. The more we infuse our days with love, light, and beauty, the higher our frequency becomes and the easier it is for us to be positive and get happy. Trust me, it’s not fluff. This stuff works. The thing I love about rituals is that they can be effortlessly woven into your day. If you need support in creating rituals, here's a guide to creating morning and evening rituals.
3. Call on your community.
This has always been one of my most beloved steps to happiness. It wasn’t always the easiest one for me. I lost many of my friends after my divorce. However, being more committed to my happiness than my suffering allowed me to find and create a supportive community when I needed it most. If you’re reading this and don’t have a community, I invite you to be bold in your quest for one.
And if you feel connected to a group of people already, I want to remind you that those who love you feel privileged to support you. It can be so easy to isolate ourselves when we are going through a hard time, but it’s important to reach out. You may be surprised who shows up for you.
There are many ways to cultivate happiness. But if you master these three things, your commitment to happiness will outweigh the suffering that comes up in your life. Keep going, and know that you’re not alone.