Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Achieving Happiness

This photo was not captured by trespassing someone's sunflower field...But if I go to jail for it, I can't say I feel like much of a criminal.
There has been a theme in my life lately of happiness.  I've been scared to admit it, but I might actually be very happy with my life right now.  When you admit that, a lot of fears come into play... it feels like there is so much to lose and that it could so easily be tilted in the other direction.  Through all of this loveliness, deep down I keep waiting for doomsday.

my picture is attempting to demonstrate retrospect.
In my grasp of happiness, I've come to terms with a few things.  Firstly--it takes far less to make me happy than it does some people.  Everything society has told me to do to have a successful life has made me utterly miserable.  I went to an expensive four-year school--I dropped out due to not having the guidance to accept my health issues and medications were deeply affecting my performance.  In fact, I went for two years...I wanted to leave after the first year--and I even stayed after being encouraged to by people I trusted around me, which I do not blame them and I love and have no qualms against these people for it--they were doing their best--but unfortunately I was too young to know I should have been listening to my gut.  The student loan debt has wrecked me financially and made my life harder, and the memories of being there are painful and filled with regret.  I know I bring it up a lot--it's the most profoundly life-altering memory and regret that I've got.  And yet, after years of feeling bitter about it, I've managed to overcome a lot of that and I'm still happy now.

I don't have a job that makes me hundreds of thousands per year.  I have a part-time job that is incredibly accommodating and filled with lovely people, both who work there and attend there.  I feel at peace.  I enjoy my work.  There's no drama there and none of the emotional turmoil.  When I'm there I just feel a sense of peace and purpose.  I'm not making a lot of money, but I'm happy.  And I've also realized the location gives me a great sense of joy too.  I'm so used to walking out of the door of a job, feeling disgusted at how ugly, gray and industrial everything looks, and rushing to my pretty home in the trees as fast as I can.  I linger in the area after work.  It's fascinating.

I don't own, or live in, a large, amazing house.  I live in a 900 square-foot space.  It's too small to fit all of my and my roommate's hobbies inside.  But I am happy here because of the location (it's been my dream to live here for years), and I make it work.  I don't mind mess on the occasion on the inside, when I can garden outside, look at the beauty of nature, and enjoy.  I feel very grateful for my tiny home, I will say that less clutter would make me happier, and that I hope we can find better storage options, but ultimately I'm very grateful.  Location seems to mean a lot to me.  Anywhere gray and industrial seems to take a toll on me emotionally.  I live for the beauty of nature and I believe that nature is what makes life worth living for.  I will be commuting most likely, to where-ever I work, in order to preserve this lifestyle that I love, and it's a sacrifice that's worthy to me, for my happiness.

I don't have a large group of friends.  I have a small group of different, individual friends, no more than four.  They are wonderful, lovely people.  Every time I see a friend, I feel happier inside.  They are all so different and yet such a wonderful asset to my life.  I am working to see them more often, as I'm realizing how preciously short life is.  It is really important to set that time aside, and they all know I've been terrible at it in the last 10 years.  Regardless, these people make me happy.

I love my family.  How many people can say that?  I feel incredibly blessed to have both of my parents, to have my sister, to have my relatives.  I was born into a family filled with all inherently good people.  Not all of us are that lucky.  I know that I am and I count my blessings on that every day.  We may not all be the closest knit family, but I never have to deal with family members who are trying to hurt others.  I visit each of my parents and I just adore my family, and adore the new family members I have now that each parent has remarried.  I'm so lucky to be surrounded by so many good people.  Not perfect people, of course not--but genuinely good people.

I don't have children.  I feel very happy and grateful for life as it is already.  Why tilt the scales?  I may one day adopt--I see no reason to procreate when there is already so much suffering on this earth.  I am against breeding dogs and cats because of their overpopulation, why would humans be any different?  I truly believe we can love people just as much or moreso who are not of our own blood.  But all that aside, I'm just happy now, as it is, without children, and I don't need the added stress and responsibility.  If I'm already thrilled with how things are going, why make my life harder?  This is another one of those categories where again, I've found I have to not listen to people.  Every time I do something in my life on the recommendation of someone else, and not through my own heart, I end up unhappy.  While a child one day could be an asset to my life, I certainly don't need one to fill a void of unhappiness--because that void is not there.

And I think that is the thing with happiness and why some people never truly achieve it.  There is constantly a need for more.  Constantly a hole.  Constantly an dissatisfaction with life as it is.  And nothing is ever good enough.  Constantly trying to get the next promotion.  Constantly switching to the next job.  Constantly switching romantic partners.

Or little things.  The house isn't clean.  I didn't get my __ in the mail yet.  I didn't get to go on the trip.  I didn't get to eat the meal I wanted.  I couldn't afford the thing I wanted.
Nothing is ever enough for some people.  If I get this, then I will be happy, if I get that, then I will be happy.  But the truth is that while some happiness can come from satisfaction with your financial situation, your job, your children/family, or your romantic partner, it actually starts within yourself.  And if you can't start out with some sort of inner-peace and enjoyment out of life, as much as you get, it will never be enough.  Because while yes, not getting what you want is annoying or even disheartening, depending on what it is, it should not be affecting your overall happiness, again and again.  You should have that vitality flickering like a candle, inside of you, on a consistent basis (obviously not all of the time, but MOST of the time).  Every time you complain about something you don't have, you are not appreciating something you do have.

There are people who are happy, living in much worse conditions than you are, and there are people who are sad living in much better conditions than you are.  Happiness is not given to you on a silver platter.  It's earned.  It's self-improvement.  It's not other people's responsibility--your happiness is your responsibility alone and only you can improve upon it.  Your happiness is part of your work-ethic.  If you have poor work-ethic when it comes to making yourself a better person, poor work-ethic in changing your life for the better in ways you have control over, and poor work-ethic in noticing and enjoying things you could take joy from, you will have a very difficult time being happy.  Remember this--your happiness is NOT given to you.  It IS you.  For most of us, we have to stop blaming other people and other factors and get to stepping (and for some of us, that includes psychological treatment, and there is nothing wrong with needing to go in that direction either).

"Just keep going."--Elizabeth Taylor

If you are truly unhappy with your current situation--sometimes bad luck can be good luck because it pushes us to change something for the better.  Keep looking for that job.  Keep looking around at different locations until you find one that makes you smile, and pursue actually living in it.  Keep saving money to get that car.  Just don't stop.  Sometimes, the act of making a change is enough to make us happy, because we know we will not be stuck in the spot we are in forever.  Believe that you have the power to make a change, no matter how small, and keep going for it.

But then stop.  And admire the fact that you have the option to even MAKE those changes.  And appreciate what you do have.  Work on appreciating the beauty around you.  Work on being a more positive person FOR the people around you, and either lower your expectations of people, or remove them from your life.  You need to be in a place where you can truly appreciate--NOT keep trying to change and adjust for a better result, or you will never be happy.  Happiness is an acceptance of what something is--it's not achieved by manipulation, rather by finding and accepting.  Happiness is a lot more concrete than other things because it's within you.  You can't have what is not already there.  You don't mold something to make you happy, you take it for what it is or you leave it.  Happiness and appreciation go hand in hand--when you have to change something to appreciate it, you aren't truly happy with it.  That has to be deeply taken into account.  If it's something little that you needed to change, then it shouldn't have been affecting your happiness in the first place.  Make sense?  If the change you need in something or someone, to make you happy, is something big, then you should probably move forward and acknowledge the goodness in something else if you are unable to accept and notice the goodness in it, for what it is.  Because when the change you need to be happy, is something big, it's highly unlikely it's going to change.  This goes with everything--potential housing, relationships, lifestyles, jobs.  You are the one that's broken if you keep trying to fix something in order to make you happy--rather than move on to something else.

Summary:  Happiness is acceptance.  Happiness comes from you alone.  It is not achieved through manipulation of people and objects around you.

Have a good day! :)

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