Finding a formula for happiness is subverted by the ephemeral nature of happiness and the variety of stimuli that create happiness in the individual. Yet most spiritual teachers mention it in their teachings as a state of being, not as deep as joy but more intense than contentment. It appears to be a state that comes fleetingly and as a by product stimulated by our thoughts, feelings and actions.
If I were to formulate a questionnaire to the tenants of my apartment building (a true microcosm of Australia in terms of age, sex and nationality) I would have as many answers as there are tenants! A desire for happiness in our lives may be universal but to each person there is a unique pathway.
During my time as a colour and sound therapist (and now as I deal with assisting people to make career choices) the ‘number one motivator’ in making life and career choices is – will it make me happy? Yet with so many I talk to the overwhelming lack of true self in the choices people make must surely sabotage the results?
How can we be happy with our choices if we are choosing because of obligation, ‘shoulds or musts’ or as an unconscious choice because society deems it right or proper?
Is it any wonder that our attempts at happiness fail when we are pressured from outside of ourselves to find a happiness that will fit us? We wouldn’t choose a dress five sizes too big or small for our body and then expect it to fit would we – so why do we expect someone else’s idea of happiness to fit us like a glove and bring us the desired outcome?
I have come to understand that
happiness means knowing oneself and then accurately naming our preferences, gifts and talents and not being overwhelmed by the expectations of others, our need to obey others or be obligated to them.
As in all things this is simple yet complex. Simple in that we must learn to follow our own piper no matter the tune we play and complex because we need to balance a series of responses to others, lovers, spouses, family, children and friends that all have expectations of our time and behaviour in their lives.
How well we juggle these complex pulls and tugs on our time and creative space is the mark of how ‘in balance’ we are with ourselves and how much we trust and love who we are.
So as in most things happiness comes back to self. How true we are to ourselves. How well we understand our talents and attributes. How much we love ourselves. How willing we are to stand up for who we are and what we believe even if others disagree with us. How accepting we are of the life we have created and the willingness to make change if necessary. How willing we are to pay the price to honour us first.
I’d like to share with you a personal experience around creating happiness in my life. After divorcing in my late 30’s and being a full time parent in my early 40’s I began to ask in my mid 40’s ‘What about me?’ This journey of ‘what about me’ after many years of fulfilling other people’s expectations of me that I clearly understood during my teens, twenties and thirties brought about some interesting findings. Firstly that we carry unconscious beliefs from society – in my case the major belief was that I needed to be in a personal relationship with a man in order to be fulfilled and happy. This was despite the fact that my marriage had been a constant struggle to assert my creativity and that I am by nature an introvert. I thought I was lonely and that a man in my life would be the answer. It took many years of failure at connecting in a relationship for it finally to dawn on me what had been clear from my early 20’s. In order for me to be happy I need the space, time and freedom to create, in other words I am happiest when I am creative and this happens at its optimum capacity when I live on my own. In reality I had not been lonely for companionship -I had been lonely for the experience of fulfilling my true self – the creative expressive writer, singer, dancer painter in me!
As a result of this my home has become my creative studio. Yes, I still share it with my son for the moment, but I reclaimed it to be the supportive space for my creativity and I have never been happier. As a further by product work has started to flow effortlessly into my world and even though my commitments are still heavy I am able to find time for all the creative projects that support my happiness. Others I know find my life too frenetic for their tastes but for now this is the compromise I make for being happy. My life is in balance between the simple and the complex.
Happiness – the state between joy and contentment and a state of being true to ourselves and our talents. Surely this state is worth pursuing is it not?
Till next time… peaceful bless-sings