Finding Your Happiness in an Unhappy World
Look around, watch the news, scroll through your social media…or maybe don’t.
There is not a whole lot of good news in the world today. In fact, most all news is bad news, because, let’s face it, “that is what people want to see.” Hold on, I would like to know what “people” they are talking about. Personally, I think we would like to hear a little good news occasionally. I think we would like to see a little love and kindness in the world.
We all get our fair share of puppies and kittens, unicorns, and rainbows when we turn on the television or read our social media. This is not the kind of love and kindness I am speaking of. We need some real human love and kindness, personal connections, neighborly favors, co-worker care, right in our own back yard, so to speak.
If you are like me, you are not getting out much these days. You may be going to work or not, going to the grocery or not, going to dinner outside or not, and that is just about it…if you are doing what you can to stop the spread of COVID-19. This leaves all of us with a big giant hole in our world and some of us, I am not pointing any fingers, are angry. Some of us are terribly angry that we are stuck in our houses with not much to do but fight with our families and sit with ourselves. Argh!
We may be perusing our social media and dreaming of happier times when we could drop by Nordstrom and obsess over the newest skinny jean or be seen at the hottest nightclub downtown in our new skinny jean. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that these things are frivolous. I am too a member of the Nordy Club but a little past my prime for the nightclub. But maybe, just maybe, there is something more to life than what we thought.
So, let’s ask ourselves, were we truly happy, satisfied, complete, fulfilled back then in our skinny jeans? I would guess that the answer to this question lies in deep within each one of us. And my hope is that during this pandemic, we will all take the time to learn what really makes us content. And how you ask do you start that process?
The most important aspect of this journey is that you must be open to it. You must be wide open to look at yourself, your life, your commitments, your responsibilities, your successes, and your failures. Okay, I know about half of you stopped reading this, but for the other half I am so proud of you for taking this giant leap of faith.
This will not be as hard as you think but you must be open to the fact that there most likely will be no end to this journey. In my experience, once you start your journey to finding true happiness, it never stops. The hardest part is just the starting.
I will be completely transparent with you. My journey is at a different stage every day. Some days I am on my way to fulfilling all my dreams and some days I am sitting in front of the television watching Toddlers and Tiaras reruns, not that there is anything wrong with that.
This is the other “hard part”, your journey is going to be completely different than anyone else’s. And the reason that is so hard is that there is no right way to do it, no book to read, no class to take, no group to join. However, there may be books that you read or classes that you take but there is not one single prescription for a happy and fulfilling life.
Now the other of you just stopped reading. If you are still here, I will tell you about things that have helped me with my journey…which is far from over. Bear with me, some of these are abstract and others are concrete AF.
1. Open your heart to all the possibilities life has to offer. Don’t close yourself off to things, people, ideas because they are different, or they scare you. The most amazing things we learn are the things that are foreign to us. “abstract…lol”
2. Exercise…I only recently figured out that I feel like a real bad ass when I am consistently exercising. Now this could be because, as I said early, I am a bit past my prime and sometimes I am lucky to make it through a whole workout without passing out, but I am a firm believer now that exercise makes me happy. “concrete AF”
3. Be nice. This one is kind of a combo abstract/concrete because it is quite simple but everyone’s definition of nice is different. I will just say this, if you cursed out the drive through lady at Starbucks for putting one pump of caramel instead of two in your Frappuccino than you are probably not being nice. Right now, everyone in the world is struggling and if we can learn how to be nice in this $||i+ show than think how easy it will be when things get back to “normal”.
4. Practice Mindfulness each day. La di frickin’ da. Mindfulness is really all it is cracked up to be. We do not realize how many times a day we are not mindful, and we don’t realize the cost. Remember when little Suzy took her first step? Of course, you don’t because you were on your phone texting work. Remember the time your significant other told you that great story about his college buddies getting arrested? Nope, you were thinking about how he was supposed to take out the trash last night. What about the incredible things you learned during your graduate program? Not even…you were too busy thinking about the all the time you were going to have to yourself when you were done with this crap. Be Mindful.
5. Say no to things that do not make you happy. This one is a little tricky because we can’t always so no when our boss asks us to consult with George in Accounting who has terrible coffee breath, or when our professor asks us to present our ideas in front of the whole class, or if our significant other asks us to go visit aunt Martha for the fourth time this year. I am talking about the things that are in your control. When that horrible ex-boss who belittled you in front of your peers leaves you a voice mail two weeks after you resigned don’t call him back because you don’t have to. When that Narcissistic friend calls for the tenth time inviting you out to dinner so he can drone on about how great his life is…say no. When you are asked by someone you thought cared about you to do something completely out of character and against your moral code say no. The more you start trusting your own judgement the happier you will be.
Okay, I’m done but one last thing. We all have our moments where things come crashing down and we just simply can not be happy and that is okay too. We must remember that the bad times are just that, they are a time, they will pass, and we will learn from them. We will be stronger when we come out on the other side. Hang in there and enjoy the journey.