Happiness- where I found it. For a long time in my life I chased happiness with the phrase I’ll be happy when… I lose weight. When we have more money. If we go on holiday. When I’m well again; when, when, when! At that time my happiness was very much dependant on external factors. I was looking to events, relationships, inanimate objects and more to make me happy.
Of course many of these things did bring me happiness. They evoked that feel good factor that had me convinced this time I’d cracked it for good .Although to be honest this happiness was always going to be time limited. Good feelings might last for a few months, weeks, days or even just a couple hours. However one thing was guaranteed, at some point the happy bubble would eventually burst.
In time I learnt that looking to external sources to make me happy was a kind of artificial high. It was always going to fail at some point, simply because it just wasn’t sustainable on a daily level. Why? Because as strange as it sounds I was chasing too much of a happiness high. As a result, I was setting myself up for a fall every time because I was pinning my daily happiness on short-term bursts of fulfilment. In addition to this, I was setting such high expectations for these moments that they became pretty much impossible to live up to.
I discovered that what I had been chasing all these years was unrealistic. My true happy place didn’t rest on new clothes, holidays, relationships, ‘out of this world’ experiences. Those were bonuses to be enjoyed from a happy place, not happiness itself. Finally, in an aha moment, I realised that I was responsible for creating my own happiness.
Being responsible for my own happiness required me to look within. Look at how I was responding to external events. How I was interacting and reacting with people and life events. It meant taking a hard look at how I was dealing with situations that were out of my control. That’s when I discovered the driving force behind why I would swinging wildly between happy highs and the lowest of lows.
Once I began to monitor my responses I became aware of how they impacted on my daily life. I began to see a positive shift in my own expectations, reactions and interactions. I discovered that even though I may not be able to control a situation or the way a person behaved towards me. I could control the way in which I responded and in turn, influence my own happiness level.
I became enlightened to the fact that if I continued to look to the external for my happy place. I was never going to be able to sustain a healthy level long term. I was as my Dad used to say going to ‘come a cropper’ ( fall heavily) And this was exactly what I had been doing. I had been falling heavily, time and time again. Always left with a sense that I had somehow failed at life’s happy test.
For me, contentment and living my life’s purpose is the new happy. Once I realised it was not all about exciting holidays and big adventures.That it was more about finding that sweet spot where I reacted to life from a calmer, more peaceful and grounded place. Life got a little easier.
Of course, I can still want those heart racing, heart bursting experiences.Those wonderful happiness spikes. Only now I want them without the misguided expectation that I need to be high five-ing the world day in day out. I now know that to feel truly happy I need to operate from that more balanced, calmer middle ground. I know it’s ok to return to a quieter non-swinging from the chandeliers kind of life.
We all know that life cannot always be a bed of roses. Even after discovering this middle ground I know it’s still possible to be derailed by those moments in life that blindside you. My happiness train still comes off the tracks. The most centred people I know get thrown off balance by life’s little surprises but what I have witnessed is that living life from a more balanced place. By becoming aware that I have the power to choose how I react I have become much more adept at getting myself back on track.
Today life isn’t about see-sawing between extreme highs and crushing lows it’s about appreciating the bliss of everyday life, still actively looking for the pockets of beauty when the going’s a bit tough and feeling secure in a life that is a healthy mix of contentment sprinkled with excitement.
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