Like so many people, I suffer from a certain amount of self-doubt. I find many things about me “ugly.” Yet, the other day, a friend of mine told me she was impressed with my positive attitude and confidence. She said that there are many things that I do that she would never have the nerve to do. I kiddingly told her that once you overcome the ideal of happiness, life isn’t so hard.
Right about now you may have that same confused look my friend had. But let me explain…
We are programmed at birth to continually strive for happiness. We must go to school and learn as much as we can, as knowledge will make us happy. We must learn to be socially acceptable because social acceptance will make us happy. Home, family, career…these are all things that “make us happy,” right? Wrong…
I bought into the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. My parents were divorced when I was young. I lived with my mother who was an alcoholic and drug addict. But society told me to grow up, get married, find a good paying job, start a family and I would be happy. So I did.
I met a man who I thought was my soul mate. I found a good job, had children, continued my education, learned to balance career and family. I had the “3M’s:” mortgage, matrimony, mini-van.
And then it was all gone.
In one fell swoop, almost everything I had ever worked for was no more.
My marriage was gone, my children were grown, my house sold and my entire future that I had so carefully planned out was no longer.
The funny thing was, when I really thought about it, I was still happy.
My ex left because he said he wanted to “find” happiness. He couldn’t find happiness in our family, our home, everything we had worked so hard for. He thought he could find happiness with someone else, another woman, another family, another home.
Truth is you can’t “find” happiness. Happiness doesn’t hide under a rock or behind a tree or around the corner. Sure, you may be able to find “excitement” in a different routine (we all get excited about taking a vacation, starting a new job or buying a new house), but different is temporary and then it becomes the new normal.
Happiness, true happiness, is something that is deep inside you. It’s that feeling you get when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “You Rock, woman!” No one can “give” that to you. You have to earn it. You have to want it. You have to believe it.
I tried to explain to my ex that you can’t “find” happiness and once you overcome that desire, it is amazing how happy you can really be. But he wasn’t ready to listen.
And so, starting from scratch, I looked for new experiences to enjoy, I tried new things and resurrected old things. I went out and met new people and caught up with old friends. I stayed home and watched movies or read books. Basically, where ever the moment took me, that’s where I went.
And each night I picked up my journal and I wrote about what I did and how happy I felt.
I won’t lie and tell you I faced the end of life as I knew it with my head held high. In fact, for a while I was a miserable blob of goo, but I knew deep down inside that I had done everything right. I had taught my children well, led by example and worked hard to improve myself every step of the way.
Today I have a new home, a new partner in life, a new business and a blog where I can take my journal out into the world and perhaps help others understand that real happiness is not a goal…it’s who you are on the inside.