We all want it. We want it for our children, loved ones, friends but mostly for ourselves. We strive for it but what does it actually look like? We each have our own definition of happiness but do you know what your happiness feels like? When do you know if you’ve achieved it? Are there different levels of happiness and do we stop once we get to the first level? Does your happiness even have levels? Is it a person(s)? Is it a day of the week? Friday? The weekend? Is it your home? Does happiness come after finishing a project? Or is it a feeling that stays with you?
If you don’t know what your happiness is, let’s start with unhappiness…
I have two levels of unhappy.
I’m unhappy when my kids tease each other and that teasing turns to tears. I’m unhappy when I open my side of the wardrobe and it bangs into the other door because my husbands left his side open. I’m unhappy when I forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner and it’s 5pm. But maybe all of that is more frustration than unhappiness.
The unhappiness I want to talk about is the one that can be crippling. The one that brings on tears for no reason or the unhappiness that makes you disengage from your life and spend your days in your head with your own private battle going on.
When I’m unhappy like that, I’ve got a nickname for it. A nickname I can say out loud. My close friends know it means “I’m Depressed” without having to say those ugly words. I say ‘I’ve lost my muchness’ and they know.
I started to become aware of my actions when I found myself in that space again and again. I paid attention to the things I do, or stop doing. I stop looking at social media. I stop serving others. I stop accepting invitations to go out. I stop smiling. I stop calling people. I stop answering my phone. I stop appreciating my life. I just stop being me.
I become silent and crawl into myself.
I sit at home and wish the time away by watching movies or playing way too much Plants vs Zombies—sometimes simultaneously. When I watch movies, it transports me into someone else’s life. Not a real life, but it helps me to get out of my head. My head is full of jumbled thoughts that are hard to string together. The thoughts are unkind toward me and they turn me into an empty vessel. I have to ride the dark wave until I find my smile again.
I’ve never been a skinny person but I do enjoy going to the gym. Always have. I enjoy the classes. It’s fun, it’s social and my body feels so much better after. I’m a 6am girl. I’m so much better in the mornings at everything! So after the gym at 6am, I’ve got so much energy and before 9am, I’ve already put on two loads of washing, vacuumed the house, made breakfast for the kids, got them off to school and that’s just on a workday.
So the start of me going downhill is when I stop exercising. For whatever reason…too tired, too busy, no time…they are just excuses I feed myself. If I stop exercising, within three months I’ll be bottomed out swimming in depression.
It took me years to realize my trigger points. Exercise is my key to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle.
How come exercise? Well, I’ve thought a lot about this…
No exercise → lack of energy→ eats more sugary foods→weight gain→ more eating because I’m filling a void that’s appeared and before I realize it, I’m saturated with yuck. I’m not happy. I’m not myself and I sink inside.
What are your triggers? I think we all have them…
I think its really important to figure them out. Once I figured it out, I shared it with my husband so he could catch my fall in case I couldn’t.
You are in charge of your own happiness!
Happiness is the key to life. Happiness makes everything beautiful. I see the change of the seasons, the beautiful colors that surround us, I hear the birds singing, I want to hug everyone (and I do). When people who really know me see me coming, they just put their arms out because they know they are about to get a big hug. I’m a hugger…when I’m happy. I WANT TO HUG THE WORLD…when I’m happy. I spread good cheer. But I have learned which of my friends are not huggers and give them that space. When I’m happy, I brighten peoples days. I am a great listener and have time for everyone. When I pull away, I wonder if these people miss me (I don’t think twice about it when I’m low). When I’m happy, I can see those around me who need help and it makes me happy to go out of my way to help them. I want to make home improvements. I keep everything clean and organized. Nothing is too hard. I have energy galore and can do anything!
I feel happy when I find a cute bookshop or when I’m listening to music that makes my heart soar. I feel happy when my kids hug me. I always feel happy when I step into the State Library. I feel happy when my to-do list is finished. I feel happy to be sitting on the couch next to my husband after a busy day and I especially feel happy when he opens a bar of chocolate for us to share after the kids have gone to bed. There are lots of things that make me happy but when I’m unhappy I can’t find happiness anywhere.
When I was little, before I knew I was in charge of my own happiness, I could change my mood by thinking of a happy place. I went to Disneyland when I was seven–thinking about that always made me happy. It would change the current mood I was in and get on with my day.
As I grew up I could still use that strategy but of course, my happy places changed until one day even the happiest of my happiest places did not cheer me up. I knew then that I was in trouble. I felt lost and alone. I had to stop and think. Picturing me somewhere having fun was not enough anymore so I started to recreate the last happy feeling I had. I learned how to hold on to that feeling when I was down. It might have been how I felt after someone paid me a compliment or remembering a first kiss or what it feels like to fall in love. Then I would take that feeling and strive to recreate it. Happiness almost became drug-like to me as I was jonesing for the next fix, the next happy moment. But soon I stopped living in the moment. I was either looking too far ahead because I was chasing the happy or I was living in the past holding on to a happy memory trying to resurrect it. This was not good either.
So I’ve done a lot of work to be happy in the present moment. Live it, love it and not look back. I want to live the best life I can and I am done wasting present moments being stuck in the past. I have found happiness and balance with who I am today. I enjoy yoga, hanging out with positive people, being a good mother, going on dates with my husband, but mostly I am a writer that needs to write. This blog has been extremely healthy for me. I’m able to express myself and it has been well received. Thank you.
I wish you all much happiness and balance. It’s a good place to be. I love you all!
GROUP HUG! XOXO
Featured Photo on top by Fernando Brasil