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Barriers to Happiness: What Keeps Happiness Away?

Everyone knows what happiness is, or what they think it is. And if they are blessed they can remember the last time they felt happy. Feeling happy can include feeling:

  • Joyful, carefree, full of wonder
  • Abundant, safe, generous
  • Healthy, fit, energetic
  • Loving, loved, lovable

Neale Donald Walsch, in his series of books entitled Conversations with God, states pretty matter-of-factly that it is the human birthright to experience happiness all the time. And yet most people will say categorically that they are not always happy; in fact, they are often unhappy.

Barriers to Happiness

So what is standing in the way of being happy all the time? If you were to write down on paper what was preventing you from being happy, what would you write?

This is an interesting exercise because it can reveal many hidden unsupportive beliefs people may harbor about themselves. And if you look very carefully, it can show you the unhealthy games people play. Turning and facing these beliefs and games is the route to freedom. And it takes a good dose of courage to look at yourself and ask what games you play, and what negative beliefs you carry around with you.

Games People Play

Kevin Billet, leadership mentor and founder of the Visionary Leadership program, points out that there is a triad of games people play on a regular basis. The triad is Blame – Defence – Victim. Most people, when faced with a negative experience, will seek to blame someone, will defend themselves, or will play victim. Billet points out that the underlying motivation for playing these games is to avoid feeling the contractive emotion (pain, fear, sadness, helplessness, and so on) that is being experienced in any given “negative” situation.

Unsupportive Beliefs

Growing up is a kind of hit and miss affair. David Richo, in How to be an Adult in Relationships, discusses how even in the most loving families, children acquire negative beliefs about themselves.

Examples of unsupportive beliefs are

  • “I don’t work hard enough”
  • “I will never really shine”
  • “I don’t get things right”
  • “I can’t do things on my own”

Left unaddressed, these negative beliefs create powerful barriers to accessing the feelings that communicate themselves to the brain as happiness.

Choosing to be Happy

In his latest book, Happier than God, Walsch proposes that the way life works is to give you opportunities to choose between happiness (the joyous emotions) and unhappiness (eg. anger, frustration, despair, fear). It may be challenging to look at a negative situation and see it as an opportunity to choose happiness, but that is all it is – a challenge. And if you find yourself going down the road to unhappiness, you can stop and choose again. Right in the middle of it all.

What if Making that Choice Seems Impossible?

Brandon Bays, founder of the powerful mind-body healing program The Journey, firmly believes that past wounds will inhibit the ability to choose to live life joyfully and in abundance. And so there is also a certain amount of clearing out of past hurts and negative beliefs required. This, too, is a choice: to turn and face old behaviors, and to find out what is driving them. It is a choice worth making.

The great masters will tell you that happiness doesn’t ever go anywhere: you are that which you seek. In other words, you ARE happiness personified. Happiness is inside you at all times. It may be challenging, but feeling happy is accessible to you if you choose to live your life in that awareness.

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