The Pursuit of Happiness part 1
Last week, I asked a few friends what was the biggest challenge they were facing. The answers were varied, but it gave me four main categories to work from: Career, Money, Family and Romantic love. This is what I collected in a nutshell.
Career: I want a change but don’t know where to start/ I don’t like my job/ I want to step out of the Deathwalkers March and embrace a job that excites me/ I’m afraid of losing my security.
Money: If I had half a million pounds in the bank I’ll be happy/ I am a freelance and I don’t know when I’m going to get paid next/ With Brexit I no longer feel the UK is a place for me and the pound just gets weaker.
Family: I’m a working mum and I am struggling with being good at both things/ Is this the right time to have children?/ Am I too old to have kids?/ My parents are ageing/ I want to raise my children with wholesome principles in a world that lacks of them.
Romantic love: I just broke up with my boyfriend/ Shall I stay married?/ I have been single for so long I don’t know if I am capable of loving again/ Where is (s)he?
I’m not going to lie. My heart sank reading the replies as they landed one by one in my inbox. The more I read, the more curious I got about the patterns of these answers. It wasn’t until this morning when I finally got it, what they all had in common was the concern about the uncertainty of the future.
It hit the jackpot. What could I write that will give them all, in their very varied challenges, a sense of ease. What could I possibly say that will make them feel they are not alone and that we’re all together in this?
If the uncertainty of the future was capable of becoming a main stressor in our lives, how could we approach it differently for it to inspire us rather than making us feel like we’re not doing enough? Can we just be happy with what we have? What is happiness? What about the Pursuit of Happiness?
I went so deep into these concepts that I got to a point I needed to go back to basics and find out what those words actually meant. I had to use various dictionaries’ definitions and Google searches so here it is what I came up with:
Happiness is a state when one shows or feels pleasure or contentment.
In old English it means good luck but in Dan Gilbert’s words happiness is not a thing to be found and that it can be divided in two main types: Natural Happiness (occurs when we get what we want) and Synthetic Happiness (is what we make when we don’t get what we want), the latter, we think, being of an inferior kind.
The Pursuit of Happiness was a more painful definition to grasp. This is the thing with the word pursuit that, to me, has a fine thread of scarcity in it, because it means to constantly chase after something [that in principle, we don’t have]. Going back to the general belief that Synthetic Happiness is inferior in quality, then the conclusion is daunting:
If we’re chasing something outside of ourselves because we think we are lacking of it and, as we are at it, we over-rate the result and if what we get it is not the desired/perfect/right one, it will never feel good enough nor make us experience contentment.
This policy aint gonna to turn out well for us people.
What is the cure to this disease, how can we thrive, be creative and make our brain recognise the abundance of happy moments we DO have? How can we turn those challenges into fun?
Believe me when I say I never ever thought this was possible. I always wanted a bigger film, more money, a bigger flat, a perfect boyfriend, a six-pack, a saner family and endless miles on my credit card. More of what I already had, just because. I went through those pointless nights of angst with an internal voice that said over and over again: when is my lucky day going to arrive?
Thinking about it, the happiest moments of my life I now see that have two main components: music and friends, and the most miserable ones when I have felt I lost love, either by the death or a break-up. Since I started asking myself the important questions, I also started to create mental photos of my happy moments. I have set up my daily intention to enjoy the small things. I literally stop and ‘click’ my eyes and say to myself: I want to remember this.
A lot of this overflow of happy moments I owe to my Life Coach, she helps me turn a pretty sh*tty mindset into a empowering one in 2 minutes, no joke. I have timed it. Shaw Achor’s 21 Happiness Challenge is working the treat! So much so that I have concluded that from the four areas of challenges, hand on my heart, I don’t have any challenges I lose sleep over. Except for the endless miles. I still don’t have enough of those.
Yet this entire positive outlook doesn’t really deal with the importance of what you may be going through and how to tackle it. So maybe it’s time to ask the important questions:
What do I really really want? (sing it like the Spice Girls will)
Why do I want it?
Is this desire a true reflextion of who I am?
Is this desire going to help or contribute positively in other people’s lives?
These are my important questions, the ones I Polaroid every single day and file accordingly. What are yours?
When we start treasuring moments of joy that is when one stops chasing happiness and starts living it.
But what is joy and where to find it? That’s all in part to be posted on 2nd April.