Have you ever felt as though your life just isn’t good enough? Do you wake up in the morning unhappy and then go to bed again in the evening fearing that tomorrow will be the same?
That’s an awful way to live life…
But it is also a sad reality for a lot of people. I know, I was one of them.
At the worst stages of my depression, I just wanted it to end. For everything to just disappear; for the screen to go blank, rest a moment, and for someone to then turn it back on with a different picture.
Sounds simplistic and dumb right?
But maybe simplistic and dumb is exactly what we need when we feel depressed or that our life isn’t living up to expectations?
When you are depressed it is very hard to see the good in anything. Even when you know that everything is going to be alright, it still feels as though the world is crashing down around you and not only do you not know what to do, even if you did, you would have no inclination to make any effort to change anything. You’re just lost.
Well, I for one never want to feel that way again.
It took me longer than I am proud to admit to figure out the one simple truth in life, but that eventually changed my perspective. And thank Goodness it did because, without it, I might never have found happiness.
And that is what we all want after all. Happiness.
A flick through TedTalks and Netflix’s will throw up a lot of information in the now popular study of happiness, what it is, how to get it, why we don’t already have it. But the one thing that is adamantly clear when it comes to happiness is this – you can’t just wait around to see if it will show up.
As hard as it may be to believe, the best way of finding happiness is to simply be happy. I am not talking positive thinking or being one of those annoying people who refuses to let go of their smile, I mean sincerely and consistently, just being happy.
As I said, simple and dumb.
But how do we turn on this magical superpower? How can anyone ‘just be happy’ in a world of deadlines, mortgages, panic, and mayhem?
By changing your perspective. Just a simple tweak in how you view the world can increase your happiness by a trillion. And I am not being presumptuous here, I am being honest.
Have you ever finished the evening meal, had a full belly and sat down to watch something interesting on TV and been plagued with thoughts of doing the washing up? You’ve had a hard day at work, this is your ‘me’ time. Why can’t the dishes wait, you just want to sit down, this show is good, you’ll be missing out if you wash up, this is valuable downtime, you don’t get enough chances to relax…..
And so on and so forth, ad nauseam.
Why do we have this mindset? Because the world has taught us that chores and work are negative necessities in life and that we should strive for greater personal benefits. Aka washing up bad, TV good.
But things are not that way at all. Who even came up with the idea that doing the housework was a chore anyway? What even is a chore?
Washing up is the act of cleaning a space, reviving it for tomorrow, making way for future meals, a way to prepare for a new day tomorrow. Ok, this is a stretch, but you get the gist. Instead of thinking about how much you don’t want to do it, just do it. And savor.
By doing it you can find the joys hidden within societies labels. You can relish in a clean space, enjoy warm water relaxing your hand, the bubbles sliding down the crockery. You can dance, listen to music, meditate and practice Tai Chi, winding down, relaxing…
As you put the plates away you will begin to feel a sense of accomplishment, you can now watch your program without worrying about adult obligations or social stereotypes that make you feel you have to do something or else. You can forget about what the neighbors will think of you when they can see pans laying on the kitchen counter because they won’t be there.
You can find the joy and even begin to look forward to something as simple and silly as washing up.
I bet you never really noticed all the hangups you had with the dishes before?
But these worries have crept into every aspect of our lives. What will people think of me if I do this, that or the other? If I focus on my career I will be thought of as career-driven, but then if I don’t people might assume I am lazy. If I stay at home with the kids I am a benefit scrounger or if I work I am a bad parent. If I eat the doughnut people will think I am fat and self-indulgent, but then if I don’t I’m vain and can’t enjoy the simple things in life.
It really is a dumb cycle. And we all do it.
But by giving yourself over to happiness, and not giving thought to what others think or more importantly what other people have told you is fun or not ( .i.e. cleaning up dog pooh, inherently not fun until you start pretending they are sailing ships caught in a tempest as you flush them down the loo) then you will never truly find happiness.
In all seriousness, we are all very different creature from one another and different things make us happy. But can you honestly give me a default, black and white list of the things that make you happy? No, you cannot. Sometimes even the things we know we don’t like, going to the dentist for instance (I had a fabulous time the last trip I had, we talked about carnivals) can turn out to be enjoyable, maybe even change our perspective.
Whether you are depressed or not, I am sure we could all use a little bit more enjoyment in life. So I invite you to give my dumb, simple little suggestion a try. The next time you are late and caught in traffic, don’t think about the negative stuff, just enjoy a moment of rest, some time to think, the wind as it traces over the grass…and you won’t care that you’re caught in traffic.
Stop waiting for happiness, it’s already yours. You’d just misplaced it for a while.