Mental & Emotional Health
Finding Wholeness in A Fractured World
Happiness can seem like an endless journey fraught with many, often contradicting theories. There’s what you should and shouldn’t do; training states of mind; economic considerations; health; family; meaning; philosophy; spirituality – the list goes on.
But what actually works?
“As a newborn, they found me on a frigid winter’s day inside a brown paper bag left on a toilet seat in a bar-and-grill washroom in upstate New York,” says A. K. Driggs. “It would prove to be an inauspicious start for a happy life.”
Can someone with such a disadvantaged beginning life find happiness? We don’t have figures on abandoned babies in the United States, let alone a protocol based in the social sciences for how to help raise these infants as they mature. Fortunately, Driggs was adopted by a loving couple, but other challenges would come her way.
For Driggs, her estimated January birthday initiated an extended series of life obstacles – romance, sexual identity, insecurity, fear of abandonment, cancer, being bullied and other existential crises, career uncertainty – on the path to happiness.
“But I found it and, honestly, I’m sure I’m happier for having gone through the challenges beforehand,” says Driggs, author of “Abandoned in Search of Rainbows,” (abandonedinsearchofrainbows.com), which details her journey to wholeness. She offers advice for those who seek fulfillment in life.
• Self-acceptance is the gateway. We tend to worry about what’s wrong with us, which makes a certain amount of sense because what’s right doesn’t require attention. Of course, the problem with this is that we create an inner environment dominated by anxiety. And, ironically, we worry about all the things we tell ourselves that we first have to do to be happy. As a result, we often have that busybody voice perpetually telling us something is wrong.
“Accept that there are things that need to be done – you want to be healthier, find a better job or a long-term romantic partner – but these things don’t have to be accomplished in order to be happy,” Driggs says. “Anxiety is terribly inefficient. There’s no point in worrying about such issues unless you’re actively trying to yield a solution. Accept that you’re in the process of growth, and it’s not so bad.”
• Make peace with your sexuality, disability, religion, race, adoption and more. Thankfully, in 2015, society has come a long way in its relationship to those who are not the majority. Still, it’s not hard to feel different, and there are individuals and groups that are explicitly unwelcoming.