Something that has eluded me for most of my life has been true happiness. There were moments as a child I remember being happy and content, but in all honesty there has always been a black hole in my life, a void. It has been there for as long as I can remember and I have been trying to fill it, unsuccessfully, for most of my life.
So while there have been a good few moments of happiness throughout my life I cannot remember any long stretch of time where I have felt whole, satisfied with my life and happy. Well not until recently anyway.
I’ll be Happy WHEN…
I think the one of the biggest things to blame is my way of thinking. I have always been in the pursuit of happiness and while I cannot remember any extended moments of happiness I can remember lots of things that I believed would bring that longed for feeling of joy.
This belief was that as soon as I have achieved a specific goal in life with it would be a sense of accomplishment, of joy and happiness.
There are so many examples of this and here are a few of these:
- When I turn 18 I will be happy
- When I get my own place to live and I am independent I will be happy
- When I have more money I will be happy
- When I get my first job I will be happy
- When I get another job I will be happy
- When I get a raise I will be happy
- When I fall in love I will be happy
- When I can get out of this toxic relationship I will be happy
- When I turn 21 I will be happy
- When I stop drinking and using drugs I will be happy
- When I reach my 1 year clean milestone I will be happy
- When I have a baby I will be happy
- When I give up smoking cigarettes I will be happy
The fact is that I achieved all of those goals and not one of those within itself made me happy.
In fact some of these things that I wanted in life made me more unhappy when I achieved them and I couldn’t quite get my head around this fact.
When I reached my 1 year clean milestone I truly believed it would bring with it some incredible spiritual awakening and a profound sense of happiness and satisfaction. I remember being all worked up with excitement, I had reached the one year clean that everyone so looks up to. I went down to the local Narcotics Anonymous meeting with my cakes and candles. I gave my one year share and I got my one year clean NA keyring.
Afterwards a few people gathered at the coffee shop down the road and we had a grand time for about an hour. Then people started to leave and it started to hit me. I am the same person I was yesterday and absolutely nothing has changed except that I have this silly keyring.
The truth is that I felt really cheated and unhappy with a sense of is this it? Is this all there is to life, just carry on with your recovery, carry on with the 12 steps and there is nothing more to life? No more drinking, no more using, no more wild parties?
It is interesting to note that a lot of addicts and alcoholics relapse around the 1 year sober milestone and quite frankly I am not surprised, I personally found it a very disappointing experience that didn’t come close to my huge expectations of it.
When I gave birth to my first child I suffered from postnatal depression for about 6 months without realizing it and I slipped into deep despair. I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy and miserable when this was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I was three years clean, I had just had a baby and I was married to the man I loved, I should be happy right?
So over time it has become clear to me that nothing will magically bring me true happiness the moment I achieve it.
What is Standing in the Way of Happiness?
The biggest thing standing in the way of happiness is ourselves. The way we think and the psychological attachments that we have.
We so often have negative beliefs about ourselves. Perhaps we self-sabotage ourselves before we even achieve anything, or we speak negatively to ourselves and often we try to fill this void in destructive ways.
In my case I tried to make myself feel better through drinking alcohol and using drugs, and as you can tell from my website this didn’t exactly work out well for me.
How to be Happy in This Moment
I have been finding true happiness in the last few years and the place that I find it is right in this moment. It is not some goal that needs to be attained. Each moment can be a moment of happiness. Happiness happens right now and it is essential to remember that.
Happiness happens right now
If you are sitting and seething with resentment about something that happened yesterday or if you are attaching happiness to an event in the future you are missing this very moment in the here and now.
Always remember that happiness happens right now, so focus on this moment to be happy.
Think of how a young child reacts to their environment, for example when it is snowing outside and how they look around them taking it all in. Take a moment to always appreciate nature and your surroundings.
My kids even get excited when it rains. They shriek with excitement and go watch at the window. I have to agree with them watching the rain is awesome, it is good for the soul.
It is also about teaching yourself that you are worth it, that you deserve happiness and this is where you need to be able to identify these negative psychological attachments and start to replace them with positive affirmations so that you have a choice.
In this way you can choose to be happy.
Gratitude helps achieve happiness
Something that has worked incredibly well for me if I start to feel resentful or unhappy about my life is to write a gratitude list. I take out a piece of paper and I write down everything that I am grateful for right now.
When I do this and see how much I really have in life, and how far I have come in the last 8 years since I got clean I get a much clearer perspective of how fortunate I am.
Joy is found in the simplest things
The things that make me the happiest are the simplest things that happen all day every day. The way my children laugh, the funny things they say and the laughs I have with my husband.
It is not the house I want to build one day that will make me happy, but the little moments in getting to that achievement and one day when I do get to build my own house it will be the memories I create inside that house that will make me happy, not the bricks that make up the house.
It is up to me one day to make it a home, a happy home.
Being Happy is a Choice
For me being happy is a choice. I choose to be grateful and I choose to keep myself focused on the present moment and enjoy it to the fullest.
Of course I have also seen some people giving advice to others to “just be happy” and to “stop moping around”. It is not quite as simple as this and if you are depressed and feel like there is no joy in life you can still choose to change things by getting some help.
There is absolutely no shame in getting help to get your life back on track and to finding true happiness, in fact I highly recommend it!