To measure happiness, you must first define it. Do you really want all your life circumstances to show up perfectly to your satisfaction at every moment in time? Would that result in happiness... or abysmal boredom?

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that the smiley, giddy sensation of “happiness” is the only emotion worth living for, and that we have to reluctantly trudge through all the others while waiting for those “happy” circumstances to arise. Our “measure” of happiness increases significantly when we expand our definition of happiness.

I’d like to do that by asserting the controversial position that true happiness is only available when we learn to fully embrace every other natural human emotion under its banner. I call this umbrella emotion Juicy Joy. It’s the ability to flow, fully, with each feeling as it arises – those you label “good” as well as those you label ‘bad.” It’s riding the wave of each emotion so deeply that you naturally transmute it into a glorious force for expansion.

When you’re anchored in Juicy Joy, there’s nothing to resist, because you welcome it all. You embrace each emotional twist and turn with such poignancy – you surrender so deeply to it – that the surrender itself becomes a powerful instrument of creativity.

Living in Juicy Joy is the opposite of living numb. It’s bold, exciting, and completely attainable no matter how far you might feel you are from it at the moment.

The cornerstone of Juicy Joy is emotion-mixing, which I’ve dubbed “emixing.” It’s the salty-sweet of the chocolate-covered pretzel, the brilliantly-written, poignant novel that leaves you laughing and crying at the same time. To illustrate emixing, I’ll tell you about Laura, one of my students who was struggling with a long-standing mother-issue.

Laura was a very sweet woman who had grown up with a mentally unbalanced mother who verbally abused her and kept Laura perpetually focused on somehow winning the consistent, loving approval she so desperately craved. As an adult, Laura recognized that her unresolved issues around her mother were keeping her from trusting her relationship partners and achieving real intimacy, and she feared they were also blocking her from myriad other opportunities in her life. She was right. Victimhood and unresolved relationships (particularly with parents) will do that.

Laura had been through many self-help programs and done buckets of forgiveness work. She told me that she truly believed that she had forgiven her mother; she knew her mother had done the best she could, and she wanted to simply love her now. I inquired about the phrasing of “wanting to love.” Laura’s lip quivered as she explained that she still felt guarded in her interactions with her mom, and still felt angry and wounded in the now-rare instances of her mom’s verbal attacks.

In my workshops, we make tea. It’s an exercise to bring our understanding of emixing to an experiential level. I had Laura choose a teabag for each of the emotions she recognized having toward her mother. I told her to be totally honest with herself, and hold nothing back. She quickly chose one teabag labeled “sadness.” The others she chose were labeled, “fear” and “anger.” I asked her if she’d like to add “love.” She seemed relieved to have been given this option and readily added “love” to her collection.

After a bit of ritual and meditation, we all made our tea. Laura watched the colors swirl independently from each tea bag and then intermingle into one rich, dark, indeterminate shade. The goal of this exercise is to fully embrace and accept each of our (sometimes disparate) emotions as valid and worthwhile.

All suffering comes from either denying or disliking some aspect of ourselves. When we honor every part of us, including the emotions we’d been denying or resisting, we heal. For Laura, the truth was that there was whole lot of love, and a whole lot of hurt. Focusing on the hurt as an excuse not to love was not the solution. Trying to deny that the hurt existed was not the solution.

It’s in our nature to love and it’s perfectly okay to love someone and be angry with her at the same time. Rather than negate one another, the different flavors can swirl together to create a vibrant new blend. It’s not a bad cup of tea.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa McCourt is a personal development expert, and the author of 34 books, which have sold 5 million copies and have been translated into 11 languages. Find more about Lisa’s work and her newest book “Juicy Joy – 7 Simple Steps to Your Glorious, Gutsy Self” at www.lisamccourt.com.