We strive to be happy. It’s an infinite goal for most human beings… be happy! “You’ve got your health; your family is good, be happy!” Yet most adults are not happy. In fact, most adults are angry, depressed, and disappointed. The exact opposite of how we’re told to be in the world and how we want to feel. No matter the narrative you’ve tried to create for yourself, being happy isn’t easy. And for far too many, not being happy drives us crazy.
The standards we use to assess our happiness levels are faulty.
It’s difficult to take an objective assessment of happiness when we use Instagram as a marker. Equally, our obsession with celebrities affects how we value our own lives. In an effort to “keep up with the Jones’s” we often measure ourselves against our neighbors who’s lot in life may be very different than our own. When we compare ourselves to others, there’s little room for acceptance or gratitude. Buzz words we use to decide whether we’re sufficiently happy. And often are not.
Being happy is not easy.
Given this backdrop of our lives, it’s a wonder anyone is ever happy. In fact, fleeting moments can’t be taken for granted. Falling in love feels good as does post-coital cuddling, and a child’s smile. Celebrating a milestone becomes paramount just as succeeding with any task no matter how big. These benchmarks however are too few and far between actual day to day living. When did happiness become so elusive?
We are rivalrous critters and strive in competitive environments. Most of us rise to challenges, seek out chances to improve ourselves, our financial picture, and our positions in the community. We want more. However, this effort brings us back to comparing ourselves to our neighbors, colleagues, and those we admire. A never-ending vicious circle of comparisons. Without an alternative, we become stuck in being unhappy.
Your standard for inspiration and happiness is not the same as mine.
I struggled in my acting career, knowing there was always someone younger, thinner, and more talented than me. I auditioned for roles against movie and TV stars and more often than not, I was the one who didn’t get the job. My career choice set me up for many unhappy days. Moments when I compared my body, face, hair, and voice with those who beat me out for a role. It was a no-win situation. And a recipe for unhappiness.
I’ve had to move the goal posts and reassess my markers for success and happiness many times.
It had to happen. I could no longer walk around being as unhappy as I was. When I did take stock of my situation (single mom, older actress, living in an expensive city) I had more compassion for the choices I had made. These were my decisions. My choices. I could accept where I was and what I had chosen to do with my life. Or not.
At a certain point, we have to know when we’ve done our best. (An excellent marker that comes from our hearts and minds as opposed to the environment.) Once I could admit that I had given it my all, no matter the results, I became happier. I stopped competing with the voices in my head and the people all around me. I stopped competing period. Happiness stopped being dependent upon the status I thought I wanted.
Choose to be happy unrelated to the circumstances of your life.
We cannot keep comparing ourselves to others even if we’re wired to be competitive. We have to decide to choose to be happy no matter what. When we choose to be happy, we’re less apt to do things we don’t want to do. We structure our days to include things we like to do. We start to hang out with people who are fun to be around. Even if that means, making big decisions.
I’ve often written that “you matter.” Because, you do. Your happiness is yours to grab hold of and to choose to feel. We’re not victims of our circumstances or relegated to the lives we’re currently living. There’s also too much help available to us to continue feeling down, angry or depressed. (That’s a good use of Instagram.) If you find yourself unhappy and discontent, set up a quick call with me. Together, let’s move you from where you are today to where you’d like to be tomorrow.