“So many silly wasted years trying to find happiness in all the wrong places”. That’s what I tell myself these days. Advice to the young woman I once was (if I were to listen!) would be: “Stop trying to find happiness in sensory pleasures like eating out, smoking, drinking, loud music, fine clothes and jewellery, the newest car, expensive holidays and thinking only of yourself all the time, because I know now that none of these things bring you lasting happiness.” Phew! All that pressure to conform and trying to make other people like me! It was so exhausting! What a relief it would have been to know this all those years ago.
And yet there is another school of thought which says that everything happens for a reason and at the time it is supposed to happen. So perhaps if I hadn’t gone through all the experiences and challenges that I had earlier in life, I wouldn’t truly appreciate where I am now.
Here are 4 things which bring me true happiness in the present:
- Attuning to my inner wisdom and intuition.
- Delighting in the wonders of this world.
- Helping other people.
- Rediscovering God.
Gone are the diamonds.
In their place is the glint in the eye of my husband (far brighter than any diamond); gone is the newest model of car to denote status and wealth; in its place is our small, eco-friendly car with room for the dogs in the back; gone is going to rock concerts blasting all the senses; in its place is listening to meditative music and chants; (you’re getting the idea now); gone are the expensive holidays abroad with stressful airport journeys; in their place is taking day trips to the beach and writing great online reviews for places we have visited, and so on.
Happiness doesn’t come with money, status, trying to be like other people or living beyond our means. It comes with connecting with our real selves, dropping the masks of conformity/pretence and just being who we really are.
My advice to you:
If you asked me, I would say discard the mask of unhappiness and reveal the real you. This takes courage, but, you know, the real you is loved, is lovable, is worthy, is kind and is so much more than the external trappings of youth which eventually fade. Will you be ready for that, because I wasn’t! Will you be ready to love the real you inside? Because I wasn’t. Do you know what or who that is? Because I didn’t!
And yet I became so very tired of the ceaseless discontent which crept in, wrapping its restless tendrils around me, squeezing out every last drop of temporary happiness. I decided to stop doing it to myself and instead get high on inner happiness. Here is one of my favourite quotes. It’s from the iconic ‘Desiderata’ poem:
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
– Desiderata, Max Ehrmann
And anyway, what’s so wrong with being you? Much love, Anita.