When I’m with my children it never ceases to amaze me just how innocent, playful, curious and happy they truly are. And then I wonder, just when exactly do we stop having fun and begin to let fear take over? When does our definition of happiness change?

Truth is, even if you had a blessed life there’s still things that happened that were challenging and traumatizing. This can be a variety of things, from something someone said to you in third grade, to getting separated from your parent at the park, to falling off your bike at first try.

We all have emotions that have been suppressed. We all have a shadow side that we didn’t allow ourselves to feel, everything from sadness, anger, pain and grief. As a result, this manifests in a multitude of ways such as anxiety, stress, nervousness and fear that ultimately prevent happiness and peace.

It’s important to give yourself the space to really feel all those suppressed emotions. According to traditional Chinese medicine e-motions are neither good nor bad but simply any expression of energy (aka chi or prana).

If you continue suppressing emotions, in time you may even convince yourself and others that you’re

F-I-N-E, but really that’s just “feelings inside not expressed”.

Those suppressed feelings don’t just go away. They need to release. So often we have to experience a discomfort to wake-up, to be a seeker and bring healing to where it hurts. You must face your shadow side and go through the darkness to reach the light.

The soul will always try to learn the lessons it came to learn.

If you continue to suppress certain emotions and pretend to be okay you will always looks outside yourself for happiness. You will constantly search for something or someone that can complete you or bring you peace and happiness. But it doesn’t exist. True fulfillment and peace must come from within.

If you have an idea that everything needs to be checked off your list to be happy then you’ll just feel worse. Because once everything is checked off the list and you’re still not happy the problem just exacerbates.

Believe me. I know. At 25 years old I had already checked most things off my list and still was not happy. I had the distinguished university degree, did the prestigious corporate career, had the successful entrepreneur career, owned the European convertible then SUV, the condo by the beach and the pure-bred Yorkies. But still I kept chasing and outsourcing my happiness from something outside myself, instead of generating it on my own.

I know from personal experience and working with many clients that there’s no such thing as constant happiness. Life is never settled. Happiness is an emotional state, so the expectation that we can be happy all the time is unrealistic.

It’s about acceptance and gratitude for what is…right now.

I invite you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to do the work, to drop the mask and face the shadow of what’s blocking my doorway to true happiness?”

You’re responsible for your own happiness. You’re 100% able to feel happy right now in this moment.

Happiness is truly an inside job. If you’re feeling discontent or anxious here are my top seven tips to update your definition of happiness now:

  1. Stop running. Practice self- acceptance by becoming present with every experience and stop chasing external things for happiness.
  2. Let go. Do release writing to get your feelings out. Let yourself feel the full spectrum of your shadow emotions of sadness, anger and tears.
  3. Say “Thank You”. Have a daily practice. The more you generate gratitude you literally increase the serotonin in your brain.
  4. Be still. First thing when you wake up, meditate. Even if it’s just five minutes a day, give yourself sacred time and space. Your intuition will reveal itself and bring clarity to your life.
  5. Tell yourself, when the anxiety comes up:

I’m enough.

All is well.

I’m doing my best.

There’s nothing I need to figure out in this moment.

Our true essence is love. Love is acceptance and gratitude. I encourage you to continue moving into acceptance, the doorway to true authentic joy and happiness. Take off the mask. Allow yourself to be seen. And don’t be afraid to go to the dark. I promise you that on the other side there’s so much joy and peace.

As always I’d love connecting with you and hear how you’re generating your own happiness from the inside out. Head over to the comment section below to share.

With love and gratitude,

Leslie xx

Originally published at lesliesaglio.com on March 16, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com