How can I deal with happiness

Life is in ruins: learning to deal with crises


During my summer break I am in the middle of Italy. La dolce vita. I think so. But today I want to tell you something very personal. It will probably be the most personal blog article ever. It is about one of the greatest crises or challenges of my life so far. I don't want to go into much more detail. What I am aiming for and what I would like to share with you guys is how I've been feeling over the past few weeks. What the beginnings of this crisis felt like, what knowledge I had so far and how I dealt with all of this. How I worked step by step, what healing processes can look like and what helped me. I would like to give you examples of how I have found my strength again, insofar as it is the right term in this context, and gradually built it up again, as well as what possibilities and chances I see in it to be able to grow at times like these and how you can use this for yourself. The things I write are purely subjective and personal and by no means universal. I can and would like to report purely from my own perspective and emotional state. Of course I hope that you can take a thought or two with you.
Some time ago I said rather vaguely that I have been talking about happiness all day long, but that I have never experienced such real “unhappiness”. Of course there have been many separations, illnesses and deaths in my life or in my environment, but they were mostly gentle farewells or at least in some form to be grasped so that one knew how to deal with them.
These are also the three biggest crises that I can personally imagine and with which I have already come into contact: Interpersonal relationships falling apart, the lack of health (in the case of oneself or a loved one) and death including parting. Associated with the acceptance and the pain of change, learning to let go and giving up oh so perfectly forged life plans.
Certainly there will be a million more strokes of fate, especially if you look at world events including wars, hatred, climate catastrophes and famine. Fortunately, I cannot empathize with them in any way, so I do not claim to write about them.

I have often said that I have such a happy life - including all the ups and downs that go with it, of course - but still sometimes a guilty conscience has crept in. I was always “curious” to see when it “caught” me. I probably didn't knock on wood clearly enough, but this wrecking ball through paradise came absolutely unexpectedly and therefore hit me all the more and turned my life upside down. I felt dizzy and numb. It seemed as if the ground was being torn from under my feet.
And this picture is probably the most suitable for this emotional state, especially at the beginning of a crisis or a stroke of fate. I would like to claim that I had both feet on my feet and while you go your way unsuspecting, it happens and suddenly a trapdoor opens under you and you are simply swallowed. Without warning. Then you literally sit in that black hole. You have no idea what to do. There is no way out, no ray of light. In the truest sense of the word, you fell on your face and you don't have enough strength to get up. One crouches. Without any trace of hope and the ability to see ways out or new opportunities.
The only thing you can feel through and through is fear and pain. And not only mentally, but also physically. This recurring surge of emotions, especially in the first few days, was so intense and violent that I was unpredictable and did not know how to channel it at all. It felt like small panic attacks, the hint of a feeling of being overwhelmed, which paralyzes you, constricts your lungs, shallow breath, high blood pressure, racing heart. The thoughts are short-sighted, the focus is clearly on the problem, no chance for optimism and rationality. Pure emotions. I slumped in myself and sank in myself, the problem, the vortex of thought, also in self-pity and Weltschmerz. The only thing you can do is keep going. Keep breathing. Hope that in the next second this feeling will evaporate again. The "nice thing" about it (if you can talk about it) is that it always happens. On my own initiative or because I am most lucky to have some kind of outlet in my close and loved ones, to call them at any time of the day or night, to throw me into their arms, to cry, to ask them meaningless questions, on that no one has an answer. Not at all with the hope of finding solutions, but as an emotional safety net for all my thoughts, feelings and fears. In retrospect, this unconditional assumption was free of any evaluation and sometimes saved me with no weakening phrases.

A good friend once gave me the advice to take along "You don’t have to give names to things."
You don't have to name things, you don't have to name, explain and define them. This applies to so many areas of life, situations, feelings, relationship states and phases of life that can be simple without having to be titled. Perhaps this will also make them lose their magic every now and then.
I would like to report on this open state of being in which I am currently.

As trite as it may sound, when you say - no matter what situation you are in, look for the positive in this situation!
When you're in the middle of it all, you don't want to hear about it and just run away. You can also save yourself all the calendar sayings. Then just sit there, hold on, be silent and listen. Don't weigh, don't evaluate, don't put things into perspective. Pain cannot be viewed and explained rationally.
And yet I can confirm it: yes, everything will be fine. Or at least better. How and when - I don't know, but it will be. Yes, life goes on. When you get to such a point, it can only go uphill again. And the positive sides of such phases can usually only be recognized afterwards with a certain distance. Temporal, mental, physical or emotional distance. For me, for example, it's the fact that this crisis is knocking me down right now. The time is perfect for this rousing slap in the face of life. I was on the verge of the ministerial summer break anyway. I really imagined this to be different, but now I've been given time to deal intensively with the situation and with myself. I was given time when I might not have been able to work as Minister of Happiness in everyday life because I was down on the ground myself. With a heavy heart, I even had to cancel the last job before the break at the beginning, for the reason that I was physically and mentally unable to travel through Germany and speak authentically about happiness. One of the greatest demands on myself is authenticity and credibility and that was simply not guaranteed in this situation. The personal admission that I currently can't and that that's okay was important to me! I can say no, I can ask for help. I am allowed to focus on myself and take care of myself and my happiness.

When a friend recently asked me if I was realizing what progress I was making, my answer was: "Yes ... time is really something crazy."
Time heals all wounds, blah blah. Somehow it might be true. But she said, no, it wasn't time alone. “Time is bad, but you are bad. You make this progress, you all by yourself. ”Day by day you get stronger, breathe deeper, paint life more colorfully again. Of course there are relapses, but as long as you always take two steps forward, you can confidently pause or even take one back from time to time.

I am currently going through the most intense and emotional summer of my life. The worst and at the same time most interesting at the same time, because I have rarely learned so much about myself and life. At the moment, nobody knows how things will go on and with this uncertainty and this ability of patience, which I have not exactly developed, I have to and would like to look into the future.
Whenever this is published here, it doesn't matter how it ends, I would like to tell you about my journey, how I deal with the current feelings, from this journey to myself.
I would like to give hope that each of us has the chance and the possibility to find this strength also or above all in oneself and that this is possibly the only way to deal with crises and strokes of fate. Because in the end you are the only thing that remains. At the very end you are alone.

The moment when you receive bad news that you don't expect is like a punch in the pit of your stomach, you feel like you're in the wrong film and you watch yourself doing it. Disbelieving and paralyzed. Sometimes tears run straight away, fear spreads, sometimes you are very calm, shocked and do not want to admit it.
I encountered this incomprehension, especially in the first few days of everyday life, when I went to the front door as if wrapped in cotton wool and couldn't believe how everyone else was going on as before. Doesn't that make any sense? I was deeply outraged.
I felt infinitely unfairly treated: how can this happen to me? Why me?
Followed by desperation and unjust troubleshooting, what could I have done differently? Could I have prevented or delayed anything?
Anger and defiance were also there, my palette of emotions really didn't leave anything out, I couldn't and didn't want to suppress anything: every feeling is welcome and may be recognized in order to be able to move on.
Followed, thanks to the time, by a certain serenity, a kind of acceptance, a rebuilt basic trust in me and life.
The phase of searching for meaning and filtering out knowledge builds up and gives hope for everything that comes.
I've read a lot lately, including “Option B - How Resilience Overcomes Strokes of Fate and Finds Joy in Life” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Here the five phases of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's mourning model are mentioned again:
Denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. It is also mentioned, however, that these are not necessarily separate stages, but that all of these can also flow into one another. And I can confirm that.


to survive
In the first few days after bad news, it seems almost impossible to perceive and meet your own basic needs. There is no appetite, the essentials are drunk, sleeping seems impossible with this vortex of thought - the risk is too great that one will wake up and think it was a nightmare. Nothing is worse than realizing that it is the truth.
Nonetheless, it is important to have strength. So: sleep, eat, drink. A warm cocoa and an even warmer shower.
Ask your favorite people specifically for support, ask them to stay overnight with you, to cook, to clean, to go shopping, that helps.
And the most important thing: don't forget to breathe. The breath is usually very shallow, especially in the initial phase, depending on the emotional state, one hyperventilates from time to time. Breathe deeply and calmly, breathe in for six seconds, hold, breathe out for six seconds ...

The social catch basin is worth gold and you will be amazed how many people care for you, are there spontaneously, jump in and help. I am more grateful than ever for all the great people around me. That is real wealth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Get good friends, your family, go away. A change of scenery helps to interrupt the recurring film.
There is also a tendency to hide in feathers and sink into suffering. So out of bed and into social contacts. Surround yourself with people who are good for you. Distraction, joy, enjoyment, and laughter are not forbidden, even when one is grieving.

In many situations there is sometimes not much more left than to practice acceptance and patience. That sounds easier than it is.
Of course you can always ask yourself: Can you currently do and change something? Can you help, change your mind, actively contribute to recovery, coping, or whatever?
But ultimately it's about accepting what is, with everything that goes with it.
Then you can build on it little by little and learn from it.

The silence in nature has helped me tremendously. Although I initially had concerns that the seclusion would fuel my carousel of thoughts, the complete opposite was the case. Practicing mindfulness, listening to the birds, enjoying the unrestrained beauty of the forest and feeling very small and unimportant, did me incredibly good. Forest bathing is not a cure for nothing.

Getting up and literally running away from brooding can also help a lot. Exert yourself, exert yourself, go beyond your own limits, celebrate small successes and then reward yourself with a treat in order to gather new strength afterwards. For the next sprint, whether in an emotional or physical form.

Fortunately, I can't help but speak openly about my feelings. If someone asks me how I'm doing, I can't put on a mask when I feel awful. This openness sometimes comes to light unintentionally, for example when memories come over you in the supermarket or the wrong song is playing on the car radio, then tears may well flow.
It was like that at the hairdresser's and at first I was very uncomfortable. But what was waiting for me? Absolute understanding, warm words and hearty hugs.
Often people have had to experience similar things and know only too well what one is talking about. So openness also promotes solidarity.

To be alone
As much as I valued the presence of my favorite people, I also needed solitude. The absolute silence. To be alone.
Only in this way can one really follow the thoughts carefully, let oneself drift and listen to needs. That's how you get to know each other. Fortunately, I have a very good relationship with myself, I rarely go to the harshest court, don't doubt too much, do me good, know about my feelings and needs. But this intense time helped me to see a lot more clearly and to understand myself again in a new and different way.
Take good care of yourself, do at least one thing every day that is good for you, that gives joy that flatters your soul.
Especially in times of crises and disasters, it is more important than ever to have a good relationship and feeling with yourself. That is why self-worth, self-love and self-care are absolutely essential!

In difficult times, emotions can spill over quickly. My emotional phases were turbulent and often overwhelmed me.
A roller coaster ride of emotions, a constant up and down, so that one could get dizzy and sick.
What helped me a lot here was writing down the conditions. This enabled me to better recognize, classify, relativize or accept the feelings.
Writing in general is one of my magic bullets. Regardless of whether it is ideas, questions, beliefs, wishes, plans, values, interests - everything can be found in my notebook and thus relieves my head and heart a little. (Love) letters are special and helpful for many. Use such times to contact the people who are close to you, to express your gratitude, how happy it makes you that they are in your life, that they are possibly healthy and to what extent they have already helped you or what positive ones Feelings you associate with them. Do that while they're still there. This will work wonders on both sides. And don't forget yourself, write a letter to yourself. Write down the things you would advise a good friend to do if they found themselves in your situation. What would you say What tips do you have ready? Be your own best friend and give it a try.

Ask yourself a lot of questions, use this phase of life, no matter what has happened, to restructure yourself.It is also a chance to take a close look at your thought patterns, beliefs and desires. These questions helped me, among other things, to gain new insights and perspectives:
What do I need?
How do I imagine life?
What am I missing?
What is power robbing?
Who or what gives energy?
What is love to me
What is death
What is important to me
What are my insights in life so far?
What do I want to change and tackle?
What am i proud of
What am I doing good to myself?
What are my pillars of life?

Bucket list
Do you have a bucket list? A “bucket list” of things you'd like to do before you die and give up the spoon?
I had never actually written one to myself before, but when I read the book “The End is My Beginning” by Tiziano Terzani and this quote caught my eye: "I've done everything I wanted, I've lived immensely intensely, and I don't feel as though I have missed anything." - I knew then that I would like to find out more precisely what intensive life means for me. Not that easy at all.
Emotions are part of it, with all the trimmings, with all their ups and downs. Profound, extraordinary experiences and adventures. Honest and human encounters and relationships. Getting to know cultures, traveling, exploring the world. Enjoy the silence and live close to nature. Pass something on and watch it grow. And so much more. Writing down my wishes and views in concrete terms helped me to take on new perspectives and led to a great many aha experiences.

If there's one thing I've learned from this time, it's that you can't plan anything in life anyway. Fittingly, the statement of another friend in response to the fact that I now wanted to forge a master plan to determine what would happen if X or Y occurs. And what did she boldly say to my face?
"Fuck your master plan!"
There is absolutely no point in thinking down to the last detail how the situation and life should go on. That is pure reason. But life doesn't just take place in the head. That is why it is said: step by step and always - every day anew - pay attention to what the heart says.
And it's true, with every single small step you get more strength, you get stronger, you get self-confidence again in yourself and in life, hope and joy.
Every day the heart hurts a tiny bit less, the breaths go deeper and the view becomes clearer. Not always, but more often. Guaranteed.

I found a nice quote from Tedeschi and Calhoun in the book "Option B":
"I'm more vulnerable than I thought, but stronger than I ever dreamed of."

All of this has something to do with luck, but I will probably only be able to recognize and classify that properly in retrospect.
Meanwhile, you don't want to know anything about it, all the things you know in theory about optimism, positive attitudes towards life or resilience don't interest you the bean. The early days are so intense and intense that one is only concerned with survival.
And that's fine and human. You can still struggle, roll up your sleeves and think about what the next specific baby steps might look like. All in good time. All of this is a healing process and it just doesn't happen overnight.

In “Option B” it was also read that, according to the University of Pennsylvania, there is also a kind of “post-traumatic growth”, that is, people who have experienced bad things are in some cases able to grow beyond themselves and achieve great things to draw from it. There are five forms of this growth:
Find personal strength, gain appreciation, enter into deeper relationships, find more meaning in life and see new opportunities.
I find that extremely exciting and it confirms the statement that you can learn something from every crisis, as black and infinite as the hole into which you fall sometimes seems.

I feel stronger and more hopeful every day. There will be a fresh wind that will swirl life around, that's for sure. But life consists of many small new beginnings anyway. So it is up to us how we set the sails and decide in which direction to go.

Finally, I would like to tell you a little anecdote that I experienced here in Italy:
I run with my dog ​​Gretel on a forest path, the light breaks into the treetops, the warm wind is good for you. As I race my mind, I discover colored shards on the forest path. Everywhere you can find small pieces of old tiles in the most beautiful colors they shine at me. What a picture: There it lies in front of me: the pile of broken glass from my life. I can't resist my collecting instinct and start to put the small, colorful fragments in my hiking backpack. At every corner I discover a more beautiful shard with even brighter colors and they remind me of the shapes life can take if one is willing to take a closer look.
At home I will make a colorful installation out of what I found, a mosaic as a symbol for the diversity of life. This is hung on the wall as a reminder, a reminder of a time when I thought my life was in pieces, but I realized that it was up to me in the truest sense of the word to get creative and something To create something new and beautiful out of it.

I once created a personal happiness formula for myself, how true it is, I am now more aware than ever:
“Happiness is change. Everything is changing, in flux. Happiness consists in accepting this and using it in a positive way. This also means recognizing opportunities and being brave enough to take them. "