Is Ensuring Your Happiness a Selfish Act?
One of the most beautiful things about being Latina is a general norm in the culture to care for others and to nurture those around us. Many of us seem to be naturally inclined to give of ourselves without much thought, and while, this is can be an altruistic act that is beneficial for others, we often find ourselves depleted and drained. Find me one Latina that has not been in that position at some point in her life of having given too much of herself for her hombre (man), or for a member of her family, or even for her children, and I will call the Vatican to proclaim this Latina as having performed an act of miraculous proportions. In other words, I do not know any such Latina and you probably don’t either.
With the very purpose of life being happiness, how as Latinas, have we found ourselves with such a deficit of long-term, sustainable happiness? Or perhaps, many of you do not believe that you have the right to happiness. And while I may not, at this moment, be able to even convince you that you have the right to happiness, perhaps, you will not argue that at minimum, you have the right to something better in life. So then, I will ask you this: Do you think that ensuring your own happiness is a selfish act? Do you think that you have the right to live a fulfilling life? Do you believe that every human being on the planet has a right to happiness?
For many Latinas, happiness is an elusive, slippery concept that seems to be based on buena suerte (luck) or “lo que Dio permite! (what is in God’s will)! And while, I am a highly spiritual creature myself, I have learned that my happiness is something that I have been able to create with far greater control than I could have ever imagined. My happiness and my ability to sustain it have been entirely based upon the way I have learned to train my mind and how I choose to view my experiences even when they are challenging.
Happiness, like any other result we crave, can be brought about through disciplined, consistent action and training. In the same way you know that you would have to exercise and choose healthier food for your body to achieve some desired measure of change, you would need to do the same to achieve a desired measure of happiness. You would be required to change your current habits, create new ones that you practice consistently, and feed your mind positive thoughts and affirmations. One habit we need to change as Latinas is maintaining toxic relationships that drain us. We need to eliminate factors in our lives that cultivate suffering. Yes, of course it can be hard to just cut people out of your life. However, you can begin by implementing boundaries and creating limitations around what you will allow in your life. You will need to learn to say “no” to people or circumstances that keep you entrenched in pain.
Seeking a life of happiness is not selfish or self-indulgent. In fact, research is overwhelming demonstrating that unhappy people are the ones that are more inclined to be self-centered, unpleasant, and even combative. In contrast, happy people are found to be more kind, flexible, and tolerant. So, please begin to grasp the notion that your personal happiness does not mean that you are somehow sacrificing the good of someone else. Rather, it means that you can through your own happiness have a greater reach and impact in the world in helping others be happy!
Pa’lante Siempre Hermanas! Con Luz y Paz! Cynthia
(Forward Always Sisters! With Light and Peace!)