Hi.

Let's work to end the suffering together.

John Tessitore is the Founder of the JCK Foundation, a non-profit devoted to ending the stigma of mental illness.

What Is Stopping You from Being Happy?

What Is Stopping You from Being Happy?

What is stopping you from being happy?

What is happiness? Happiness means different things for different people. So, what is it for you?

For me, happiness is to be able to travel and discover new places. It is to be in nature and be able to see, hear and feel the beauty of it. It is to taste and enjoy food. Happiness is to feel whole, fulfilled and part of a community.

If you were to ask me this question a few years ago, my answer would have been completely different. It would’ve been to have money, to get the promotion I was working for so hard; it would have been to have a purpose and understand why I am here.

So what has changed?

My mindset.

 One of my happiest things to do: write

One of my happiest things to do: write

The search for a personal hero

To give you a little bit of a background on my story, I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My parents got divorced when I was 5 and not long after that, me and my mum moved in with her new partner. Both my father and stepfather were alcoholics. From a very young age, I was a witness to arguments and abusive behaviour towards my mum. When I was 12 years old, my little sister was born and I spent a lot of time looking after her. My needs were moved aside and as a teenager, I ended up battling with depression and low self-esteem on my own, on top of getting mentally abused almost every day by my stepfather.

Throughout the years, I tried to push down and silence my pain, loneliness, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. I tried God and religion, alcohol, partying and men. At 19 years old I decided that the only way to freedom was to find the love of my life and hope that he would save me. At the age of 22, I found myself in a very messy relationship with a person addicted to drugs. Luckily, I ended up moving to a different country. Looking at it now, I know it was the best thing that could have happened. I got a chance to rebuild my life from scratch. But I carried on using my old coping mechanisms and I went on for a search for my personal hero.

 In order to be happy, you need to arm yourself with the proper tools

In order to be happy, you need to arm yourself with the proper tools

A square peg in a round hole

It took me years of living in denial to finally notice how unhappy I was. I found myself in another unhealthy relationship, in a job where I felt like a square peg in a round hole and still struggling with episodes of depression and anxiety. I was doing what I always have done. I just got on with it, hoping that something would eventually change. I began searching for help. I went through therapy, read a ton of books and attended various support groups.

But there was something missing.

Even though I was more aware of what my issues were and how to cope with them, I was still massively disconnected from myself and was trying to fill up the void inside of me by things from outside - alcohol, sex, food, work.

Taking happiness into your own hands

It all changed when I took the responsibility for my own happiness in my own hands. I realised that in order to get different results, I had to do things differently.

I began to work on my mindset and my beliefs. I looked closely at the way I spoke to myself and how I looked at the world around me. Did I see the glass half full or half empty? Was the path ahead of me full of obstacles or new, exciting possibilities? I started meditating more often and being more mindful about what was going on around and inside of me. I started saying “no” to people without feeling guilty. I started expressing my gratitude for little things like my healthy body or a tasty meal I had the day before.

By doing all those little things every day, I moved from feeling apathy, anxiety and a lack of hope to acceptance, forgiveness, willingness to change and hope. And with this, the world around me also changed.

 It all changed when I took the responsibility for my own happiness in my own hands.

It all changed when I took the responsibility for my own happiness in my own hands.

So what is stopping you from being happy?

You can say it’s the job you hate or your partner who doesn’t meet your needs. Just like I could have said it’s because I was abused or because I had to start everything from scratch in a foreign country and people don’t like me because of my accent or just because I’m Polish.

I could’ve stayed in a dark place where everything seemed to be hard to achieve and people are negative and unsupportive, and stayed with what I knew instead of shifting my perspective and being happy with a little effort and making few changes every day.

If you find it difficult to do it on your own, get out there and find people who are doing it already. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So who are your five people? Social media is full of places where you can hang out to meet like-minded people and be a part of a community.

So now, ask yourself what happiness means to you, what is stopping you from being happy, what are you ready to do in order to change your situation and what specific steps can you take right now towards your happiness?

Let me know in the comments!

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