From Healing to Happiness

What amazes me about our body-minds is how much we are buikt to heal and to restore our balance. Often it’s not clear what the issues are or how to address them, but things become clear as we persevere and work with the body-mind.

I don’t believe that the purpose of life can be just healing. It seems insane that certain situations may happen to us, break us, and then we just live out our lives to heal what has been broken. While sometimes it may be necessary to dedicate portions of our time here to healing, it is unreasonable to accept that this is all our lives will be about. It is more likely that healing (self-discovery and recovery) and expression will happen in parallel, one process supporting and enriching the other.

I found it astounding, with everything that we know, how little we teach kids about coping skills. There are very few schools with a social-emotional (SEL) curriculum specifically designed to help kids learn about processing and managing their emotions. These kids grow up to be adults who harbor various powerful baggage – often operating unconsciously, which will spill over into every aspect of their lives. Then, these adults will parent their kids. The cycle of ignorance continues and, as a result, many people will lead unfulfilled and reactive lives.

As a teacher, I watch kids daily struggle with anxiety about almost every aspect of their lives with hardly any guidance about how to relate to themselves and others. Schools say it’s their jobs to teach kids academically, but I believe we are all missing the mark about teaching kids basic emotional intelligence skills, which could tremendously elevate our quality of living all over the world. Often I see kids learn these skills ftom a therapist after they already had some form of a serious breakdown, but not before. Kids who manage to quietly hang in there through various trials and tribulations may never learn these skills at all. As adults, they will start browsing self-help books or maybe resort to drinking, drugs, or medications.

As I work on myself and on healing my past trauma, I am also noticing how no one has ever empowered me with basic tools for balancing body and mind through various life events. Even if I didn’t have trauma, I could have benefited from someone teaching me in my childhood how to interact with others, how to listen, how to respond, how to be aware of myself and to self-regulate, and how to balance my needs with the needs of others. I had to learn these things haphazardly throughout life, and usually at points where I felt already broken or have participated in irreparably breaking a relationship.

Healing is a continuum – stuff is always happening, and even the little things must be processed and managed on an ongoing basis. Healing and rebalancing is really a just a normal part of living.

I watched a documentary about anxiety, and it was interesting to learn how many people in our society are at a point where they think that all discomfort in life can and should be avoided. We now often resort to meditation when what is also needed is learning how to adjust our lifestyles and identify/process what we feel.

Trauma gets embedded in the body and proactively suppressed by defense mechanisms, such as depression and anxiety. I didn’t realize this and believed that depression and anxiety were conditions in themselves – not as defense mechanisms for an inability to process and rebalance responses. Interestingly, the first step to healing trauma is strengthening one’s awareness in the present. Because I am not identified with the mind, it turns out to be a simple shift for me to just be here. I was concerned that if I didn’t keep processing my past, I would repress it again, but that’s not the case. It took someone else to tell me that it’s OK to put all that stuff on hold – I won’t forget it again and I don’t have to overtax myself by letting it all flood through me.

I am finding myself feeling such gratitude for the people in my life who have helped me to see what I’ve spent so much energy burying and trying to forget. There is a clear path now to what I need to integrate. We talk a lot about what we need to let go – these can only be things, people, and situations. However, what remains is our responses – and these we must integrate.

I watched another documentary about empathy. What I found interesting there was the research about how kids are naturally predisposed to helping someone in need. Some believe that kids want to be helpful because they get praise or because of some other selfish motive. However, the research showed that even when a child saw someone else help the person in need, and didn’t help directly, that child felt satisfaction.

There is so much that is known about human behavior and motivations. I sincerely hope that more of this information begins to make its way into mainstream school curriculum to proactively teach kids healthy responses to life, and before these kids grow up to be confused and dysfunctional adults.

Inevitably, life happens with all of its ups and downs, and kids need to understand and set appropriate expectations about how to deal with life and relationships in healthy ways. It is easier to feel happiness while being grounded in the present and proactively looking for ways to express our innate creativity. Healing then becomes an ongoing and integrated response, which allows us to braid life as it comes in. Healing, then, does not consume a life as its primary goal.

I look forward to the day when society values life enough to make global lifestyle changes that allow all of us to flow both as individuals and in concert with each other. Then, all children will be educated about the many things we already know about being human and interacting. Then, maybe, people will stop trying to reinvent the wheel about the basics and engage with happiness sooner and continuously.

Leave a Reply