The subject of happiness is very close to my heart. Because as a 38 (almost 39) year old woman, I can see how its meaning has changed for me as I go through life’s different stages. I now know that the search for what can seem to be so elusive at times needn’t be that way, because it’s often right there in front of us, if only we open our hearts to it.
I think people often look at happiness as an end goal and the ultimate achievement in life. I will be happy if I have more money, if I find my dream house, if I am successful in my career; have you noticed that when we achieve what it is that we think will make us happy, something else takes its place and we become convinced that is the thing that is going to get us there, this destination called happiness? I used to be like this (and, I’ll admit, I have been known to slip into this mentality on occasion). Never satisfied with what I had, always wanting the best of everything. I subscribed to the “more is more” philosophy of life. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that, overall, I was leading a pretty charmed and happy life. It’s just that I didn’t see it at the time, and appreciate it for what it was. I just kept looking for the next best thing.
I continue to love the finer things in life (who doesn’t?) but for me these days, happiness is actually in the living of life, in the little things that make up my (mostly) happy life.
How did I get to this point? A number of things: ageing (ha!), having a parent go through serious health issues, gratitude journalling (which has evolved over the years into something that works for me – I plan to blog about this in the future), and, last but not least, having children. Also, I realised that happiness doesn’t just happen; I have to get into the “habit” of happiness – finding those little things that make me happy and having them in my life every day. What are some of these things? A hot cuppa and chocolate while reading a magazine, a “sleep in” until 7.00am, a favourite song I haven’t heard for ages coming on the radio, a chin wag with a dear friend, an “I love you, mummy” from my little ones, fresh flowers in the house, date nights…the list gets longer every day.
Of course, happiness is not there all the time, and that’s fine. All of us will go through times when there isn’t much to be happy about – a death in the family, a child going through a difficult stage in their life, financial struggles, a strained relationship with a loved one; the list goes on. But it’s my hope that in these times, the little things that make us happy, that reflect who we are and what we love, will carry us through.
If you’re keen, here’s a starting point:
- think about your day or your week so far
- were there any moments of joy or happiness?
- if so, what caused those moments? Can they be replicated/repeated?
- jot them down, start that happiness list! In time, you won’t need any written reminders because, hopefully, doing these little things on your list will become a habit!