This episode takes a look at happiness and how we end up cutting into our positive emotions when we resist our negative ones. Amy teaches about how life is always going to be 50/50 in our emotions and experiences. She addresses common questions about this concept, the history of it and how it applies in our lives.
If you are a human, you need to listen to this one.
Amy is a life coach for moms who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. She also coaches women pregnant after a loss.
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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
Hey friends. Welcome to episode 17. I wanted to take just a quick second and ask, if you love this podcast, would you review it and maybe share it with your friends? If you’ve never done a review, usually you just have to swipe up on the podcast and there’ll be stars in a place to write. It only takes a few minutes, but it helps other people recognize that.
This podcast is awesome and it’s something that they should listen to, so I would really appreciate it. If you like the things that I’m sharing with you, just rate it, review it, share it. That would be amazing, and I would truly, truly appreciate it. It means a lot to me to know that the things that I’m able to teach are helping other angel moms out there, and I think about you every single episode.
And it’s just really important to me to help as many people as I can. I wanted to talk today a little bit about my trip to Disneyland. We decided to drive, and it’s about a nine hour drive, so the ride there was pretty good. The kids did great. We had all the snacks, we had the entertainment and the new toys.
All of it was ready. My attitude was good. I felt prepared. I knew that the kids would. Be kids and it was pretty good. Like we make great time. No worries. The ride back was a little bit more crazy. As you guys know, you probably spend so much time getting ready for a trip and then on the way back you just kind of throw everything in and throw everybody in and just get ready to get home.
After a week away. We had the best time. I have a Fitbit and I. Count my steps and I have not been very good at. Taking my steps. So my Fitbit was really happy with me when I was at Disneyland. I got so much exercise and walked so far, which was great, but I ended up with some really sore feet. And the kids too, even though we had great shoes, they, they definitely were sore.
By the end of the third day at Disneyland and speaking of the kids again, they had so much fun. They got to do a lot of things they wanted to do. We got to meet Spider-Man and Captain America and lots of cool characters. We got to ride all kinds of rides, some of them multiple times. We got to ride the new Star Wars ride, which was amazing.
But there also was a lot of waiting and there was some whining and there were. Hungry kids and tired kids and kids that didn’t wanna go to bed, and all the things that come with a trip like that, we had to get up really early and they didn’t always wanna do that. And we had my little last rainbow baby who was two who loved it except he just wanted to push the stroller.
And if you’ve ever tried to push a big stroller and he had to hold the top. Of the handle, which he can barely reach. He just wanted to push the stroller. He didn’t wanna be in the stroller or anything like that, so it was a little bit challenging with the two year old. Now, none of these things are a problem until I start to think that it should have gone better, that everyone should have been happy and grateful because I spent a lot of time and money planning this trip when I think that I should be able to relax the whole time that I’m on vacation.
That I should just get to listen to an audio book while the kids entertain themselves in the back of the minivan for nine hours, and that my husband and I should have exactly the same ideas. And read each other’s minds, so we’re on the same page the whole trip, right? When we have this idea, especially when we go somewhere like Disneyland, Hawaii, Paris, we have these ideas of what it should be like and it should be magical at Disneyland, right?
This is something we all do. We’re at the beach even. We go out for a picnic to the park. We think this should be fun. They should be happy. Everyone should get along, everything should be good. And we’ve kind of been taught this directly and indirectly, that that is what life is supposed to be. Life is supposed to be happy if we’re doing it right.
We definitely should be happy most of the time. I mean, that’s basically the goal, especially in our day and age. I feel like this is what we’re all striving for, is this happy, perfect life where everything works out and it’s beautiful and cute and fun, and we’re feeling fulfilled all the time. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right?
But I wanna teach you something different here. And it’s actually gonna feel so much better than always wishing we were happy because we really try to put a positive spin on everything and it can end up being a huge problem in our lives. So I’m gonna explain this and then I’m gonna give you a bit of background of where I think this idea has come from, and then a few examples.
Then I’m gonna tell you how you can use this. Concept in your own life, like in a practical way. Here is the thing. This life is always gonna be 50% positive and 50% negative emotion. So I’m gonna give you a minute to think about that. 50% frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, mad, hurt, anxious, et cetera, and 50% happy, calm, excited, joyous, motivated.
You can think of your favorite positive emotions. And your least favorite negative ones and put those in there of what you’re gonna feel half the time. Now, the first thing people usually want to do here when they hear about this is argue they don’t think it’s 50% negative or it shouldn’t be.
Definitely we should be happy at least like 80, 85% of the time, right? We allow for a little bit of negative emotion, but most of the time we should be happy. Well, the great thing about thought work is you can take what you like and leave the rest. If you don’t love this concept, you don’t have to believe it, but just gimme a chance to explain it a bit more and then see what you think.
So I want you to imagine a circle that is cut in half. Like if I drew it on a whiteboard for you, you have a smiley face side and a frowny face side when we think that it should be more than half smiley. We start resisting our negative emotions. We don’t allow them at all because we think that we should be happy.
And so what happens in the resistance is we actually start cutting into that positive side of the pie and taking some of it away. So then we end up with more negative emotion because we’re resisting the negative emotion. But when we accept that half our life, we won’t feel awesome. We can learn to just let it be how it is, and the negative stuff really doesn’t stick around as long, and it also doesn’t feel as intense.
Going back to my Disneyland example, when I feel the frustration rising as my kids complain in the back of the car, I can get even more frustrated by telling myself that they should be happy and I shouldn’t be annoyed, or I can allow it. I can think to myself, This is the part where the kids bug each other exactly like I knew they would.
This is the part of the road trip where I get annoyed. Do you see the difference? Thinking that they should be happy. That I should be happy, just makes everything worse. Allowing them and me to have whatever emotions we have makes it so much more tolerable and so much easier to manage. Of course, this takes practice.
The first thing to do is become aware of the times you are resisting the negative, and at first this will be after the fact, right? You might not notice it in the moment, but you can think about it later. Do a thought download, do some models about it and recognize it after the fact. But the more you notice it and pay attention, the more true this concept is gonna feel.
The easier it’s gonna be to ride out those negative emotions. The second question people usually have is, okay, but how do you divide up the time? Is every day 50 50? Is every hour supposed to be 50 50? Every relationship, every experience. How do we do the math? This is totally normal because our brain wants answers and we like to know the how, but it’s never that easy when we are talking about the human experience.
The simplest way I can answer this question is to say that over the course of a lifetime, you’ll experience half and half. How exactly that shakes down will be different for everyone. It may be within a small window of time, like when you have an argument with your spouse in the morning. Then you’re able to talk it out and make up in the evening, or it may be more seasonal.
Especially with grief, you may feel down for a long time and that’s okay. You may feel mostly difficult emotions for months or even years. When we were in a season of loss and rainbow pregnancy and another loss and another rainbow high-risk pregnancy. It was a lot, and that lasted years. But I can tell you from my own experience that allowing for that made it so much easier to handle.
A year is kind of an arbitrary date to set on grief. But I remember telling myself that there was no rush. I decided I was allowed to be sad for a year at the least, and that was a huge weight off of me. And because I allowed those, those hard seasons, I was also able to heal. I was able to find joy in bright spots during the tough times, and I made my way through it all to where I am now, which is at peace.
With all we went through, and I know there will be more, but I can also enjoy this season. Now that has been light even more because I know what it’s like to walk through the darkness. 50 50 is actually an idea that has been around forever. It shows up in. So many religions and cultures, and so I pulled a few examples and I wanted to start with Pema Chore.
She is a Buddhist nun who teaches about this a lot. I had to narrow it down to a few amazing quotes, but here’s some of the things that she has said about this. When we are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it. Once you open. You’re open to the whole thing, both the sorrow and the beauty.
This does require courage to allow yourself to feel what you feel and be with yourself, but it connects you to humanity. You realize your interconnectedness with other people. It’s a whole different experience of being alive, and I think those of us in grief, We know that one is really true, right?
Because when we share our grief, it connects us in a way that doesn’t happen if we’re not honest about it, if we don’t allow it, if we don’t tell our true story, we don’t connect at the level that we do when we can share our pain. The last one I have, she says, the journey of awakening is one of continually coming up against big challenges and then learning how to soften and open.
You soften and feel compassion for your predicament and for the whole human condition. And I love the idea of softening and opening to it all in our society. We fight it, we tighten against it, and we see the results of that all around us. All the anxiety, the stress, and the physical health problems that can come from that.
Some of the most basic truths of Buddhism is that life is suffering. Disease, death and emotional pain are inevitable, but to cure suffering, we need to release ourselves from attachment to non-permanent things and stop trying to find happiness in them, which basically means we allow ourselves to live this mortal life, this human experience.
We accept all of it, and we stop trying to hang on to all the things that we just don’t have control over. So another way to look at this idea of balance is yin and yang. They can be thought of as complimentary rather than opposing forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.
According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects. For instance, shadow cannot exist without light. Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending. On how we’re looking at it. The Yin yang symbol shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.
So I love this way of looking at it, and of course that’s just like a tiny little bite of the whole greater idea. But a lot of us in our western culture see that black and white symbol. We probably had a necklace or something. I know I did when I was a teenager, and we think. That it stands for the good and the bad, the white and the black.
But as I researched more, I found that these parts move together and they are one, they cannot exist alone. Um, it’s a really, really great thing to read about and think about is that idea, again, the light and the shadow, they, they don’t exist separate from each other. They have to be together. Of course in our Christian theology, we start at the beginning.
There was a division of light and dark, but each had its place. The sun shone in the day, but the stars in the moon were placed to light the night sky. We can’t see the stars without the darkness. When Adam and Eve came to the earth, it was with the knowledge that there would be work, suffering and pain.
There would be evil in this world, but there is also knowledge, joy, and family. And there would be so much good each side of life enhances the other. For me, knowing that this life is meant to be a time where we will go through mortal trials, all those things that come with living here as a human being, I can more easily accept what happens to me.
Of course, I don’t always like it and I have questions and it hurts, but I’m here for all of it. This is what I signed up for, and I know there’s no other way. Gordon Hinkley said, anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is gonna waste a lot of time running around and shouting that he’s been robbed. Most putts don’t drop most beef is tough.
Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey. Delays sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.
The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride. Okay, and I love that idea of being on an old time train ride and just accepting that. This life is never gonna be perfect. It’s never gonna be exactly how we imagined, but the sooner we can accept what it is, the more we can enjoy the entire experience.
So hopefully this idea is starting to make sense to you, at least intellectually, but how do we use this in our lives? What does it actually look like? I’ll give a few examples to illustrate it in parenting. There is a capacity for the most joy and the most heartache In every stage there is good and bad, and it’s different for everyone.
A newborn may not let you sleep. You’re frustrated not knowing what they need, and you may feel overwhelmed at times. But then there are the snuggles and the crazy love and the pride you see in your husband’s eyes when he looks at her. When we allow for the tough part, it’s easier to handle. Raising a rainbow or your living children from before a loss has its own set of challenges.
But I also see one of the gifts of our experience is that we do choose to not sweat the small stuff. We know how precious these little people are. We know that staying up all night with a baby is so much better than staying up, crying in the silent toddlers, tweens, teens, adult children. They all ring challenges and joys.
You get to feel all the things, but if we’re all in and we just expect that it’s gonna be 50 50, it’s so much easier to let them make their own choices and also be confident in your decisions. As a parent, a bad day doesn’t mean you’re failing. It just means everything went exactly as it was supposed to, and that day was just on the frowny face side of that chart.
No worries. And again, it might be a long season. There might be a long time where you struggle with a certain child or a certain issue, and that’s okay. Just know that that’s part of all of it. Also, in a job you’re gonna have 50 50. There’ll be good days, bad days, projects that go well, stuff that flops times you’re confident in times you just feel like quitting.
How would your job be different if you applied this principle in your relationships? Start looking for ways they’re also 50 50 in how you are possibly resisting that and causing more problems. We’re gonna talk more about it in the next few episodes, but I see this a lot in our relationships that are the closest to us.
So maybe our parents are in-laws and also our significant other. When we think it should be sunshine and roses, or at least your mother-in-law should be nice to you and listen to you. We make so many problems for ourselves. But what if we just let the humans be human and we know that our thoughts about them are gonna cause negative emotions, have the time.
How would things change? And this 50 50 comes up really clearly as we set big goals. We’re still in the beginning of the year. We all still probably have goals when we set a big goal. It’s gonna help us feel all kinds of emotions, and if we just go into it knowing that it’s gonna be scary and we’re gonna feel like throwing up and we’re gonna have to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable half the time, then we are prepared for that.
And we know that it’s just part of what it takes to get the results that we want. We also know that there’s gonna be learning and growing and so much fun along the way, and that we’ll be able to be more confident as we continue improving ourselves, that there’s gonna be so many benefits to creating a big goal.
’cause that’s why a lot of people quit. Whether it’s an exercise goal or a work goal. Anything you’re trying to do. When we don’t prepare for that 50%, that honestly is terrible. That’s when we quit. That’s when we stop, because we think it shouldn’t feel terrible, but when we know it will feel terrible, then we allow it.
We just keep going and we don’t stop. I wanted to finish up by talking about grief. Most people would put grieving squarely on that frowny face side of the circle. I want you to question that a bit. Really think about it. Think about it for yourself. What was your experience like when you were grieving or as you’re grieving now, how does it change?
How does it morph over time? What are some of the things that were even more precious and special and incredible because you are in grief. I remember after Lauren was born, In truth, we were in the hospital less than 24 hours, which is crazy to think about now, but it felt like forever, since we just went in for a quick check in the afternoon and ended up being induced right away, having Lauren in the middle of the night and then leaving the next morning.
We left our baby and we came home. I was exhausted and heartbroken. It was March, and you never know what that means for the weather. But that day, the sun shine warmly. I went outside and sat on my front steps. I breathed the air. I felt the sunshine, caressed my bare feet. I looked at the blue sky in all its beauty and brightness, like everything before the hospital was a lifetime ago.
Now, why is this experience etched in my mind forever? Why does this one warm moment bring up so many feelings for me? Why did I feel like this was an actual gift from the universe, from my heavenly father saying that he still cared about me and he had sent me that ray of sunshine, specifically because grief gives us the gift of slowing down, of savoring the tiniest of things because the world stops and a fog descends.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I felt the sun in a way I hadn’t ever before because I had experienced darkness like I never had before. And that is what it means to open up to everything this life has to offer. I’m gonna encourage you guys to really think about this this week. How is your life 50 50, and where are you resisting those negative emotions and making it worse for yourself?
Just knowing this concept has changed so many things for me, and it’s given me back so much control in my life, and I really hope it helps you, has always. If you have any questions, you can find me on Instagram, amy dot Smooth Stones Coaching. You can dmm me anytime or you can check out my website. Smooth Stones coaching.com and I will talk to you next week.