Once upon a time happiness was all this little redhead ever wanted. It just always seemed so … well … unattainable.
Have you ever found yourself saying this;
I just want to be happy.
Why cant I be happy?
I did many times.
Because I was far from being happy. I was the complete opposite actually. Sad, depressed, lonely and lost.
What saddened me more was that I couldn’t seem to find or retain my happiness. I mean, it would tantalize me every now with a brief glimpse or a taste, but it never stuck around.
Certain things helped. Food. Booze. Sex. But they were always a temporary fix followed by periods of self-loathing or week-long hangovers.
My quest for happiness was making me sick and miserable. Even though it was the only thing I wanted – my main focus in life – deep down I believed that I would never find it. I would never find true happiness. I would never be happy. I also believed that I didn’t deserve to be happy.
Happiness was like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The problem with that pot of gold was that one could spend a lifetime chasing after the end of many rainbows only to never find that pot of gold.
And then one day, I stopped chasing happiness.
I can’t recall what exactly made me do it, but one day, I just stopped chasing it. Happiness, that is. I also stopped talking about it. I stopped focusing on it. I even removed it from my ‘goals’ list.
The day when I stopped chasing happiness was the day everything changed. It was the day I simply allowed myself to be happy.
Okay, so it wasn’t as easy as flicking a switch.
It involved some life coaching and making a conscious decision to change my state of mind and focus in life. It involved a new way of thinking and developing a new outlook on life. It involved re-training my brain to look at life in a different way, and to also act a different way.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
I was becoming increasingly irritable over the most menial of things. I was always angry or frustrated and had a short tether. What sucked was that I carried that home with me and started taking it out on my partner. The smallest things would get to me, became snappy, and generally not a pleasant person to live with. By releasing my pent-up anger and going back decades to get rid of the crappy baggage I’d been carrying around, I started to offload a huge weight from my shoulders.
I made happiness a habit.
But how? How do you cultivate happiness? Well, you do happy things!
I highly recommend laughter.
I personally make it my daily mission to laugh at almost everything, and boy do I laugh (I laugh loudly – I can’t help myself!). Laughter is the best medicine, especially guttural, full body laughs.
I also recommend smiling.
I start smiling from the minute I wake up through my morning commute to work whilst listening to my favorite morning radio line up, to ordering a coffee at my local cafe, and onwards onto the office. That’s even on the days I don’t want to go. Those are the days you especially have to smile!
Of course, I also work from home part-time, so I do smile to myself a lot as I sit at my computer. Regardless, when people see me they either think I’m strange OR they can’t help themselves and smile too.
And finally, I recommend moments of idiocy.
There is way too much seriousness in the world. Screw conservativeness. Embrace your inner idiot, nerd, or a fool. Enjoy cartoons, play, skip, jump in puddles, dance, sing loudly and encourage others to do the same. Impromptu tickle fights with close friends, kids, or your partner are pretty awesome too, unless said person also happens to be a kicker or elbow flicker. Then you might be risking a broken nose.
In all seriousness, though, when I stopped caring so much about what everyone else thought and stopped chasing happiness is when I started to be able to be myself – living a happier purpose-driven life. Even during the shitty periods where I could have just thrown my hands in the air and given up. It was during those times that I cracked a joke, smiled, laughed, and lived in the moment – because there is no other moment than this moment, right now.
Happiness is a habit. Cultivate it.