Finding Happiness - Right Here. Right Now.
Happiness is in today. In the here and now. Just as you are, where you are, with what you have. Nowhere else.
I find I need that reminder every so often when life starts to feel a bit chaotic, as I am busy in my routines and busy making plans for the future; work, social activities and holidays. It is one of the best life lessons I have learned.
I have often been one of those people who saw happiness as a thing of the future. I will be happy when I lose ten pounds. I will be happy when I have that dress. I will be happy when I go on vacation. I will be happy when it is Friday. Sometimes it was though I didn’t allow myself to be happy until those things were achieved.
This perspective changed when I read the book The Untethered Soul beside a pool in the Dominican Republic several years ago. I had anxiously waited months for this holiday and it had finally arrived! But even as I basked in the perfect weather with good friends in a beautiful place, I found myself feeling restless thinking about the future, the next vacation and being back home. Life couldn’t have gotten much better in that moment, so why was I not really enjoying it? Oh the frustration! I even recognized it then; something here just didn’t make sense.
The Untethered Soul had many worthwhile lessons, but the greatest was this; the mind is fickle, restless and has no idea what it wants, and if you let it, it will always have you looking for happiness in some non-existent place in the future. You must learn to be happy as you are, where you are, with what you have right now. This is the key to happiness; being happy right this very moment.
It seemed really odd at first, because I had associated happiness with travel and adventure. Being at home in the 9 to 5 routine and living for the weekend felt like anything but happiness. But the reality was, it was where I spent 75% of my time. Unless I was willing to do some drastic overhaul of my life, did it not make sense to find happiness in my day-to-day routine, whatever that was?
What this forced me to do was change my perspective on just about everything. Travel, adventures and new experiences were still as awesome as ever, but all the life in between needed some revamping – mental revamping. I never disliked my routines, but I wasn’t taking the time to appreciate the moments. Finding joy in cooking healthy meals for my family, going on walks at lunch-time to feel the warmth and sunshine, curling up with a good book and comfy blanket. Happiness and joy take many forms and once you start paying more attention you quickly learn that life is pretty damn sweet.
That 'thing' you don’t have but want won’t make you happy – there will always be another ‘thing’ to attain once you have it. Losing ten pounds is great, but don’t expect that being lighter will make you happier either; chances are you’ll find something else to be critical about (just love yourself already, will ya!). Enjoy your travels in the moment, but unless your nomadic or have the luxury of traveling for work, home will come – so love both of them whole-heartedly as you experience them. Watch sunsets. Try new food. Go new places. MOVE.
So when you have those days where you are feeling bored, restless or dissatisfied, ask yourself what exactly are you doing? Are you doing too much ruminating on the past? Maybe too much living in the future? Have you taken the time to pause, look around and see what is great right now? Chances are you have a lot of blessings to count. So count them, then give yourself permission to be happy and enjoy right now.