Don’t Be Afraid to Shine.

Another big obstacle to happiness arises when people start to become happier than those around them, including their families. It is very tempting to give up your happiness if you have a tribal belief that says It’s not okay to be happy when my family (husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister) is not. Before you assume you don’t have this particular belief, ask yourself how comfortable you would be becoming a shining light of happiness in your family circle — would you downplay your happiness if you knew your tribe wouldn’t celebrate you?

Believe me when I tell you that each tribe has a very specific level of happiness it will allow its members. Some allow a very high level and support their members in achieving it. But more commonly, people run into difficulty when their happiness starts to show. After all, how come you have the right to be so happy when your sister has two autistic children, your cousin has a serious illness, your brother just got laid off, or your dad is in chronic pain from working the job that supported the family while you were growing up? And what gives you the right to be happy when your parents have stuck it out in an unhappy marriage for so many decades? Or how can you be happy when a friend you love is experiencing depression, a breakup or divorce, or is struggling to find his or her way in life?

Please look at all the ways in which you believe you have to give up, silence, or hide your happiness if people you love aren’t happy in their lives. If you believe it’s not quite okay to shine brightly unless the others you care about are shining just as brightly, you will find ways to sabotage your joy. One woman I worked with found great solace in her rewritten tribal belief: It’s reasonable to believe that everyone I love has the right to choose their level of happiness. Then she went a step further: Being happy by shining my brightest inspires others to do the same, if they choose.

— Christel Nani, Sacred Choices, p. 154-155

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