What Makes You Happy?

The wife and I were roaming around downtown Greenville this past weekend in a craft shop, when I saw something that had the following printed on it:

Do more of what makes you happy!

After my initial reaction of “no kidding”, I got to thinking more about what that means, and how it’s something survivors struggle with so very, very much. Sure, it sounds simple. If something makes you happy, you should find a way to do more of it. It really should be something we’re taught as children, but children dealing with being abused rarely ever get that message. Rather, life teaches them quite the opposite lesson.

You see, being abused during childhood doesn’t teach you to investigate what makes you happy, and how to enjoy it. It teaches you to always, always worry about the happiness of others. You are there to please the people abusing you, and when you don’t, bad, bad things happen. Instead of learning what makes us happy, we learn to always be concerned with what makes others happy. We learn that the path of least resistance is to choose our activities by what others will think. What will keep my abuser happy, what will keep others from seeing my secrets, what will keep me safe. What makes me happy was such a non-concern for me as to be completely irrelevant. In fact, one of the biggest lessons I learned in the years of therapy was how to make what made me happy an important part of my life. Imagine needing years of therapy to learn that?!?!

So yeah, it seems like a simple admonition. One that should be quite easy to live by. Yet, for survivors, nothing is that simple. It takes time to learn, but it’s worth learning!

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