Heaven–as you call it–is nowhere. Let’s just put some space between the w and the h in that word and you’ll that heaven is now…here.
Sometimes I feel like I was cheated… actually, like we have all been cheated. I look around me and I see very few examples of what happiness truly is. Now that I think about it, I do not remember that word “happy” being used very often growing up. It was always about the hustle and bustle, getting through the day, the week, the month, etc. Of course there were happy times. Actually there were many when I was a child. Like when my father would run after us and tickle us out of the blue, or when we would go out to play with our friends, or the wonderful impromptu social gatherings our close extended family would have on a Saturday afternoon, those were priceless times.
But from an early age, it dawned on me that the business of life had to be attended to with great urgency and serious importance. As a prepubescent, I started to believe that my worth was determined by how well I did in school, and how well I behaved. I always felt like there was something wrong with me, something that I needed to reach for. My mother, who always wanted the best for me, would tell me that if I could just get rid of my bad temper, then I would be such an awesome child. Unfortunately, I interpreted her words to mean “I will love you and accept you fully on the condition that you take certain things away from your character.”
Looking at the whole picture, coupled with of all the expectations of myself, my family and society that I internalized growing up, I not only looked at happiness from an incredibly warped and skeptical perspective, but unconsciously, I stopped giving myself permission to be happy.
What in the heck does happiness mean anyway?
I think we should all have our own personal definition for what it means in our own lives. My definition of happiness in this present moment is that at all times, I am growing, and in this process of growth, that I accept myself 100% no matter how badly I may fall.
Yep, that’s it. The things that I think will make me happy, like financial freedom, are only tools. They are not the source of happiness.
Without further ado, here are the 10 interesting facts I have learnt about happiness thus far.
1.It Is Not A Place
We love to hold ourselves to the idea that happiness lives tomorrow, that mystic place where we have accomplished all our goals, that amazing place where we have “arrived”, especially from a financial standpoint. The saddest thing is that many of us are not going to experience true happiness in this lifetime, because we have decided that we will only give ourselves permission to be happy when we have satisfied all of tomorrow’s conditions.
2. It Is Hard Work!
It takes a lot of practice. I got this from reading the Dalai Lama’s book, “The Art Of Happiness” which I encourage you to read as well. What an eye opener! Being happy is not some utopic experience that suddenly comes over us for a limited period of time based on someone or something making you feel good. It takes work to choose to be happy when you walk into a job that you do not like. It takes practice to decide not to have your buttons constantly pushed. It takes time and effort to stop constant complaining and choose to see things from a perspective that sustains you. This is probably why happiness is so elusive.
3. You Can Create It Any Time
Yes, brothers and sisters, you are the creator and controller of your happiness. There are certain points in our lives where we have allowed happiness to flow under very specific conditions (like the weekends). We believe that there is no happiness to be found in our everyday lives. So the question is, if we are not happy with the current circumstances of our lives, are we actively doing something to change them so that we can be happier? Or have we found a diluted version of joy and comfort from constant bickering and complaining about how unhappy we are?
4. There Are No Conditions
You have probably heard about the syndrome “I will be happy when…” I actually read that in one of those famous chain letters being passed around via email back in ’97. That’s the one chain letter whose words stuck with me. There is no such thing as “I will be happy when…” We are either happy right now, or we will never know what happiness truly is. It can only be created in this moment.
5. Nobody Else Is Responsible For It
That’s a bummer, right? Not your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, your friends, NOBODY! Especially not your employer! Some of us have this very misguided expectations about the people we love and the people we work with/work for, are somehow responsible for how happy we are supposed to be on any given day. A swift kick in the proverbial unmentionables is the realization that it is absolutely no one else’s job to make you happy but you. If we keep believing that it is hidden with someone else, then all we will do is search for it, sulking because we did not get enough from that person. Doesn’t work that way
6. Accept Yourself 100%
With all your flaws, your shortcomings, your imperfections, your mistakes, your past failures and losses, accept them. Embrace them not to give yourself a pass, but to remind yourself that you are a work in progress and that you are doing the very best you can.
7. It Takes Courage
Yes, making happiness a choice does take courage! How? Well, on the day you left your job to pursue something that actually meant something to you was a choice to be happy that needed courage. The courage to let go of bad relationships, to do away with toxic situations, it all takes courage, does it not?
8. It Means Letting Go
It means surrendering to what you cannot control, and letting go of what you know does not serve you anymore. It means forgiveness of the self, and forgiveness of others. This is what creates inner peace, and naturally, happiness!
9. Gratitude = The Quickest Form Of Happiness
We were born into a society that is negatively inclined. We are surrounded by blessings but we place 80% of our focus on what we do not have and where we have not reached. In other words we are holding ourselves from experiencing happiness right now… which I am now understanding makes no sense… because now is what we have. So let’s be thankful for what we do have and where we are, Buying a gratitude journal is one of the best things I have ever done. It is a wonderful exercise that puts everything into its proper perspective.
Now, as an adult who takes responsibility for her life in its entirety, I have drawn the conclusion that if I am not happy now, then I never will be.