Note: I found this post in my Drafts folder, written over two years ago. Two years, and while I’m much better at this, I still have to remind myself to not wait for perfection to be happy!
I’ve tried to start this post several times, but it has never seemed to come out sounding right. But we’re rolling with it right now, because there’s no time like the present. Hope you’re ready for a woo-woo, deep thoughts kind of post.
Lately, I’ve been having more bad days than good ones. This may come as a surprise to some people, especially if you know me personally, because generally I don’t let folks in when stuff is bothering me. But over the years I’ve turned into a bit of a negative person. Or maybe I’ve always been a negative person but thought I was a positive thinker, and finally have been seeing they layers peel off as I try to be more honest and authentic to who I am. I don’t know, but it’s been more and more apparently lately that I’m unhappy. Which is ridiculous, since I really have absolutely nothing in my life that should make me unhappy. I have a great job, a loving family, I live in my dream city, all the things that could make a person happy are right here in front of me. And yet I feel like something’s missing.
Then the other day it clicked for me: I thought happiness would come when everything is perfect. It would be effortless and automatic, something I didn’t have to think about. And until I found that perfect formula, found the elusive balance between all of the forces that pull a person apart – personal wants and needs, caring for others, work, family, goals, chores, downtime – that I would be unhappy. And that’s not it at all. Not even close. Somehow, and I wish I could articulate it better because it was such a game-change for me, but somehow I came to the understanding that happiness is from within. I choose, despite outside influences, in the face of all the other failures and difficulties the day can throw at me, I choose to be happy.
Okay, now y’all are probably sitting there like, “Duh! You just figured this out, did ya?” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I have no idea what she’s talking about.” Either way, it is so hard to explain what it’s like to have a total mind shift. And I cannot tell you how it felt to suddenly realize that “the power to go home has always been in my ruby slippers” and to change how I felt about life events and the world in general, all I have to do is click my heels three times and put my mind in a better perspective.
When people tried to explain this concept to me in the past, I thought it was that mind-over-matter, fake-it-till-you-make-it crap. Oh, yeah, I’m just supposed to ignore all the things that are going wrong and just, like, shut my eyes and pretend they don’t exist, and suddenly I’ll be happy? Um, they’re still there. How do you just ignore problems? You don’t. You have to fix them.
But you don’t have to be miserable doing it.
For me, it took seeing what I wanted the end game to be for my problems. To take myself out of the here and now, and look at the big picture, the 10-year, down-the-road scope of it all. Does this really matter? Will it always be this way? Chances are, no. So why do I allow myself to be so sad over things I can’t control or are not permanent? I don’t need to. I can make my own happy, and still work on stuff without letting it work on me.
With this new revelation, I’m ready for change. I’ve been “trying” to change for the better part of a year now with less than successful results. But I haven’t been the master of this voyage, my emotions and feelings have. I base my decisions on how I feel at that moment, not how my actions will make me feel long-term. Stressed at work? Eat some cookies to deal with it. Too tired to work out? Oh, go back to bed; the gym will be there tomorrow. Hurt or angry about something? Better hold that ish and don’t tell anyone, you better not let other people know you have real emotions like a real human! But I don’t have to be a slave to my impulses. I can choose to respond rather than react.
I’m going to try and put these principles in action, and see what difference it makes. To choose to be happy with what is here in front of me now, and to let go of the stuff that’s not in my realm at this time. Because, you know, n=1 experiments are fun!
Go make it a great day!