Yes we can. That’s the short answer.
In fact when we exercise our capacity to find bright spots about something we thought was bothering us, we gain more “happiness muscles”, so to speak. And it doesn’t have to be difficult at all, it doesn’t have to feel like an uphill struggle.
In fact, it can be easy. It is made easier, when we take responsibility for the way we feel. About anything.
If you gulped hearing that, does it help to know that when I first heard it, I didn’t just gulp. I did a double-take and felt like a sledgehammer just hit me.
In my mind, I was really resisting this notion. All I heard in my head was, WHAT??? How is it possible that my misery is not due to other people? It even made me angry that my right to blame was like taken away. But in the midst of that internal fighting, I felt an opening in my heart as I heard that wisdom. The more I practiced taking responsibility of my thoughts as often as I could throughout my day, the more I came to realize, that I was really taking care of my thoughts, and taking care of my well-being in the most satisfying way.
A client once told me her new daughter-in-law was driving her nuts. So I told her the practice of taking responsibility for all the emotions that came up for her. In a matter of just a few days, she called back and shared that her perspective of her daughter-in-law had changed with this practice. Initially, she thought her daughter-in-law was deliberately annoying her. With intensified taking responsibility for how she felt, she felt sorry for how she had perceived her daughter-in-law. She spontaneously felt compassion for her daughter-in-law, and began to support her. Plus, her daughter-in-law no longer annoyed her. What a turnaround.
I too, with intense practice of taking responsibility for all my emotions, spontaneously began to awaken the motherly side of me. Mothering my inner child. The union between my inner child, to my true essence of compassion, is one experience that cannot be fully described. The kind of compassion that was allowed to flow into all levels of being, is just unfathomable. This union collapsed many mistaken beliefs I had about myself. A lot of self-criticism just dropped away shortly after I began embracing the practice of taking responsibility for all my thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
You don’t have to be a superhero and take responsibility for every %&#@ thing in the world. Start by taking responsibility for the way you feel. It may make you feel confused and frustrated at first. But hang in there. And in time, you will find that you’re making LARGE leaps towards truly empowering yourself to CHOOSE the way you feel.