Happy. What does that word actually mean?
It’s a word we hear all the time – whether it’s Pharrell belting out his hit, or contemplations about what we can do to be happy, attain a state of happiness.
It is a concept we all strive for. And that’s fair enough; who wants to spend a life being unhappy?
Sometimes I think that all this talk of happy and happiness means that it’s something we deserve. Of course we all deserve to be happy, but I mean ‘deserve’ in the sense of the expectation to always be happy, for the world to owe us happiness, for happiness to be gifted to us.
And that’s where we fall down, I think.
Modern society is about more, more, more. Faster, faster, faster. The right job, the right clothes, car, house, gadgets, whatever – once we’ve got the object we have coveted we expect to be happy.
But life isn’t like that.
‘Stuff’ can boost our confidence and self-esteem, certainly, but they do not in themselves guarantee happiness.
A permanent state of happiness nirvana just is not possible.
The myth of gifted happiness heaps extra pressure on those coping with all kinds of issues. Happiness isn’t a switch that can be flicked on at will.
It’s something I’ve learnt in the last 18 months or so.
When Hugo died I thought I would never be happy ever again. Nor, for a time did I want to feel happy again.
For me, happy means simplicity.
I find my happy in the simple things in life – writing, the feeling of sunshine on my skin, a hug, a cuddle with a dog or cat, flowers.
To live a happy life, I think, you need to think about what ‘happy’ means to you. Reflect on what makes you happy – what are your values? Look to accept who you are, rather than constantly comparing yourself with others. Find things that you enjoy doing and spend as much time doing them as life will allow.
For me, happiness means a collection of joyful moments that we create for ourselves.
A happier life can also be gained through accepting that we cannot always be happy, as paradoxical as that may seem! By accepting that life will not always go our way we build our resilience, figure out what kind of self-care soothes our soul, who we are and what we need to do (or not do).
That’s not about being cynical, negative, or cutting ourselves off from the world. Quite the opposite.
Figure out what gives you joy, cut out from your life things you don’t need (whether physical or emotional).
That’s what being happy means to me.
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