A scary thought: If you were to take this moment to evaluate your life would you say you had achieved happiness? And if not, considering it's a rather simple emotion, why has it been so difficult to achieve? I do believe there's a formula, not a universal one, nor divine, but a way to bring a little happiness into one's life without risk, fees or judgement.
I evaluated my life and concluded that it is not in a music career, depression or getting self-conscious about how others judge me. It is not wearing makeup, getting drunk and going no where in particular. As I used to strongly believe.
The life I want is a cornucopia of emotions, experiences and skills. New people, places and events. Happiness, mindfulness, balance, compassion and etc, etc. However, I wasn't actually aware, for a long time, that I wanted all this. I just went with the flow of things. Which turned out to be rather dangerous.
It's not an over-exaggeration to state that many people are not aware of their own happiness, the prospect or the accessibility of it.
I hope that through my own life lessons I can give some insight for others like me.
A quick google search of 'happiness' (as above) can show us what we have to do or look like to be happy. Do the pictures involve bad transport? Taxes? Debt? Bills? Rude customers? No.
However, does this mean experiencing bad traffic, taxes and the like make us unhappy? That is entirely up to you. There is no real 'google search' of happiness, a personal definition or a promise of it. You might just be looking for happiness in the wrong places and expecting a happy life that somehow avoids bad traffic and rude customers. This is not the case. It's all about perspective.
You scrape through your Jazz Music degree, picking up depression, social anxiety and mild alcoholism on the way, realise you don't like Jazz Music that much, reach graduation day and finally become engulfed with happiness.
- Did this happiness last? I would say yes. I am still happy that I got that degree and that it is over!
- Did it mean I was constantly happy afterwards though? Nope.
- Did I expect happiness to be around forever? Maybe yes. I had the expectation that finishing my degree was the happiest I'll ever be and it would be smooth sailing from there.
If we let happiness be the destination then it becomes temporary and fleeting. If it is in the journey then it becomes accessible and ever-lasting, forever around us and forever with us.
The train may drop you at Happiness station but why can't Happiness be constantly with you?
After my graduation I was still irritable, tense, always wanting to try new things, running away, coming home again, had 3 different jobs in one year. I knew I was doing something wrong. I was a mess. I was upside down and inside out and lost in my own body and mind. And heck, even soul. I was kicked when down and kicked out of lives and relationships for reasons I didn't understand. I was all over the place, unreliable, unreachable, unsociable. I was doing things that held no value and so, as hard as I tried and as well as I did those things, they did not bring me happiness. I am a happy person, I had happy times of course, but I'm talking about that little niggle of uncertainty that there's something I was missing. Something more to this.
I worked it out eventually. It took a year, a concussion and my dog getting cancer, to realise that these strange niggles meant something. As obvious as it sounds.
We all want fulfillment and purpose, if you don't listen to your passions, values or even true yourself then you will not be happy. You will only achieve the illusion of happiness that so many mistake for the real thing.
What kills your soul is not being true to yourself. This is very important. Always be true to yourself. Find your values, list maybe 3, and live a life that sticks to them and honors them. I was not align with my values and so I was failing.
It takes will-power to evaluate your life and it takes tenfold more to put into action the changes you want. So this blog, and the many more to come, are simply about how I will be doing this and, maybe, how you can too.
I achieved what I thought impossible. I got through to the end of my degree alive (not an exaggeration). I was no doubt happy about it, but I didn't try hard enough to be happy afterwards. I expected it to all fall in place by itself. I had reached Destination: Happiness so I was set up for life.
- If we understand happiness as a constant, accessible emotion, that does not need to rely so heavily on external stimuli, then anyone can live a happy life.
Please don't make excuses for putting your happiness on hold, or try to quantify it with material things, time or money. Don't wait around for happiness to jump out of the cupboard some day and say "hey, ready to start living?". I'm not saying sell your house, ditch your kids and travel the world, but start small. Start with planning a trip, going for a run, eating a tub of ice cream or whatever.
Find your values; family, food, health, independence, freedom, etc, and make choices that revolve around your core values. This is a start and it will make you happy, by definition.
My flaw is that I do too much nebulous stuff that ignores my core values:
- health (mental, physical, spiritual)
- relationships (family, friends, boyfriend, dog)
- passions (surfing, mountain biking, running, animals, dogs, travel)
What I decided to do in 2017 was put into place these values:
- health: meditation, exercise, veganism, positive thinking
- relationships: visit family in the UK in June, text my friends more, organise events
- passions: study Canine Behaviour and Training, travel Europe in July, connect with surfers
Steps YOU can take:
- Make a list of your values (top 3)
- Make a brainstorm of what these top values include (e.g., relationships = friends, in-laws?)
- Brainstorm ideas of ways to put into action your values (e.g., Skype Tracey, budget my spending)
- Keep it simple and start small!
If friendship is important to you, don't wait for someone to call, make the call first. Arrange to meet and take it from there! If health is important start by smoking less, set a goal, don't be too hard on yourself and give it 110%! If you have a lot on and value peace and quiet, organise an evening where you watch TV and fall asleep on the couch.
Most of the time we are too busy and caught up in what we think is best, that we don't ever stop to think. We are over-working, we are dehydrated, we are stressed and don't need to be. Whatever issues you have, you can change, fix or diminish them if you want to.
Our bodies are special and so are our minds, we need to treat them like the temples that they are. Respect yourself, know your limits and listen to your values. It is a challenge we face every day yet it is imperative in order to achieve inner peace and simply; happiness.
You want to be happy? Go do that.