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by Denette Mann
Happiness did not come easily for me
I was not a happy person. I had a good life, a successful career, a loving family. My health was good and my worries were few. Why wasn’t I happy? As a mental health counselor and friend to many, I knew I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t remember ever feeling that happy, light feeling I saw in movies. Certainly, I had moments of joy, contentment, excitement, achievement; I wasn’t plagued by anxiety or sadness all the time. I felt I could have a better life experience, but didn’t know how to get there. In 2012, I decided to use my business finances for the continuing education credits required to keep my license. These trainings helped to uncover the source of my dysthymia, the clinical term for when you don’t get normal enjoyment from everyday events, and enabled me to better serve my clients seeking therapy. That decision changed my life.
My path towards a mindful self-compassion practice
The continuing education program I chose was a 5-day intensive MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) training with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. It was difficult – I’m not an early morning person and meditations started at 6:00 am – but also calming and peaceful. I felt the effects of the training for a full week. I felt tranquil and serene, and dare I say, really happy. Nothing ruffled me. Amazing. Two years later I attended another 6-day intensive training in Mindful Self-Compassion led by Dr. Kristen Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer. What an experience! The information, research data, experiences, people, and environment were extraordinary. This time I felt the benefits for two weeks. Soon after, however, my brain filled again with worries.
And so, I continued my self-compassion journey. I knew this path was right for me. I attended the teacher’s training and a 3-day silent retreat, then retook the 6-day intensive training to go deeper. Finally, I obtained my certification to teach the program.
Why I teach self-compassion
I previously lived my life with a truly aggressive, mean inner critic that constantly worked me over for every perceived mistake, poor choice, failure, embarrassment, etc. That voice now is so tiny I barely hear it. I don’t meditate everyday, though that’s my goal, nor do I always remember to use my skills when I need them. Nevertheless, I live differently. I don’t have to be perfect with my mindful self-compassion practice any more than I need to be perfect at anything else in life; I just know that now, in a way I didn’t before. I’m kinder to others because I’m kinder to myself. I’m a better wife, mother, therapist, sister and daughter. I want everyone to feel the inner contentment I now feel.
I educate others to share this wonderful life-changing mindset with learned tools and skills AND to continue my own journey. I’m a passionate devotee because of the happiness I found through my mindful self-compassion practice. That’s why I teach.
About the author:
Denette Mann is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor, National Certified Counselor and Certified EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapist. She is often accompanied by her team of therapy dogs, a miniature poodle, ‘Bailey’ and a maltipoo, ‘Shaq.’. Learn more at DenetteMann.com
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