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. 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 challenging to assess happiness when we use Instagram as a marker objectively. Equally, our obsession with celebrities affects how we value our own lives. (Having been a celebrity, I can assure you, we don’t always have it all together either.) In an effort to “keep up with the Joneses,” we often measure ourselves against our neighbors whose lot in life may be very different than our own. There’s little room for acceptance or gratitude when we compare ourselves to others. Buzzwords we use to decide whether we’re sufficiently happy. Buzzwords that help us find our potential.
Being happy is not easy.
Given this backdrop of our lives, it’s a wonder anyone is ever genuinely happy. 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 often few and far between actual day-to-day living. I have often wondered how happiness became so elusive and definitely think about how it can be sustained.
We are rivalrous critters and strive in competitive environments. Most of us rise to challenges and seek opportunities to improve ourselves, our financial picture, and our positions in the community. We want more. We want to tap into opportunities, dreams, and desires. I’m all for human potential! But sometimes, this effort only brings us back to comparing ourselves to our neighbors, colleagues, and those we admire, to where we’re supposed to be on an imaginary timeline. 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. It was really difficult to find joy in happiness. 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 also have struggled with relationships and spent way too many days doubting who I am and what I have to offer. Sure, I’ve done my work and continue to do so, but you probably don’t want to spend time with me on my birthdays or other benchmarks on the calendar! Especially if there isn’t a handsome date on my arm.
I’ve had to move the goalposts and reassess my markers for success and happiness many times.
It had to happen, and I’m at it again. I can no longer walk around being as unhappy as I’ve been. When I took stock of my situation in NYC (single mom, older actress, living in an expensive city), I had more compassion for my choices. 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, minds, and universal beliefs instead of the environment.) Once I admit I gave it my all, no matter the results, I become happier. I stopped competing with the voices in my head and the people around me. I stopped competing, period. Happiness stopped being dependent upon the status I thought I wanted. I chose to find joy in happiness. My happiness.
Find joy in happiness 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 choose to be happy, to find joy in happiness no matter what. To look inward, remain focused, and get clear. When we choose to be happy, we’re less apt to do things we don’t want. We structure our days to include things we like to do. We start to hang out with people who are fun to be around and bring out the best in us, even if that means making big decisions like leaving a city you love, a person you love, or a lifestyle that no longer serves you.
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 for us to continue feeling down, angry, or depressed. (That’s why I use Instagram.) If you are unhappy and discontent, schedule a quick call with me. Let’s move you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.