After reading the happiness project I am trying to find ways I can improve my life and bring in happiness. What it takes to begin with, is the realisation that we don’t need to find what the next adventure is to be happy. No matter what we do, the next thing we think will make us happy is not the achievement of happiness we are looking for.
Happiness CAN be found on a holiday, but why is that? I consider holiday happiness to be circumstantial, we are happy while on holidays because we are doing things we enjoy, we have no stresses of work, no concerns about “business as usual” issues like meal planning, budgeting and fitting in our daily duties and housework. A holiday provides us with a break from all of that, personally, the idea of a holiday doesn’t excite me like it does for other people. If I have a holiday planned I like to take extra leave from my job so I can prepare to go, and have some down time when I get home to catch up on all the things I left behind, and the extra work I created while being away (such as the onslaught of washing we created). Others think happiness is not working.
Others think happiness is not working. Retiring or dropping back at work, but what would you really do with your time, if you get there so early? Some people are happy to be homemakers, they keep themselves busy, take a trip every now and then. Some like to create themselves a routine of activities, while others have a dream of retiring to travel, something that costs money you may not have if you retire early and live a long life. Personally, all the things I enjoy can be expensive, and for a lot of the time I don’t know what to do with my spare time, and I love my job. I like to know I have something I need to do in the morning, I need a reason to get out of bed, I question what am I doing with my life and I need to feel I am achieving something. Reflecting on this idea is what has made me realise happiness isn’t something we achieve by working less, or retiring to a life of travel, or even having children (while children can bring people joy – our mental health and state of mind can have a positive or a negative impact on children). We need to find our happiness in business-as-usual existence.
We need to spend some time thinking about what we enjoy. What do we like to do? Why don’t we have time to do it? And what can we do to make time, and actually be present and realise when we are happy.
Since reflecting on these things I have come to a few conclusions about myself.
- I find happiness in achievements. This can be something as simple as finishing a crochet project I set for myself, I always feels disappointed when I make something for someone and have to give it away, because it is the product of all that time and effort I put into it.
- I like to read. I have always loved reading since I was a child, I used to read fiction, but since I started nursing I have realised I like to learn about things. I read biographies, books on neuroplasticity, and my husband thinks I like self-help books, but I read non-fiction books about things that interest me. I guess then my opinions are based on my own knowledge, not just something I saw on Facebook.
- I like writing… I know I’m not very good about it, I don’t get amazing grades at uni, my husband read my first essay when I started this post graduate course and he told me my writing was bad, and he has no idea how I got my degree. But with the blog I guess I like to share, and I think we all have the capacity to influence each other, to encourage and to realise we share similar struggles. I like sitting in the sun with my laptop, I like sharing things that inspire me, and funnily enough, my husband recently told me he thought I should write a recipe book to help people make nutritious, all-in meals that are easy to prepare.
- Which leads me to cooking. I like to make food that tastes good, that’s easy to prepare and is comforting to sit down to at the end of the day. I like trying new things and planning ahead for the week. I also like the satisfaction of seeing others enjoy the food I’ve prepared.
- I enjoy exercise, although I am not always motivated to do this, I always appreciate it once I get in and get started. I guess it’s the endorphins we get from exercise, but I believe it helps our mental health too. I love yoga, but I have been slack lately, and getting started is my downfall.
- Sadly, no one I know understands this, but I love to learn. Like I mentioned about in number 2, I actually enjoy studying. My course stresses me out because of the time restraints and me working full time (most of the time fitting in some overtime), but I really enjoy the achievement of learning something new, of getting a decent mark (despite my poor writing) and the act of writing I guess you could say.
- Socialising. As much as I like to be a home body, sitting on the couch with my laptop and a cosy blanket, like anyone I need socialising. I like to catch up with friends, go out for brunch, and be in the company of other people. For this reason, I enjoy nursing. On my first prac I couldn’t believe I could get paid to talk to people all day, I realise that isn’t all I get to do, but I love that I can talk to people all day. There are days where I have personality clashes, where I might be in a bad mood and don’t’ feel like talking and maintaining the customer service level of interaction that is expected, but I meet some really lovely people, and the gratitude we get some patients who appreciate every little thing you do for them, that someone else might take for granted.
I won’t bore you any further (if in fact, you read through all of that), but I challenge anyone who thinks they are looking for happiness to have a think about what makes you happy. There are things we do every day that we do because we enjoy it, we don’t have to rely on others to provide our happiness, we don’t need a holiday, or a bigger house, or more stuff. What we might need is just to get outside in the sunshine, to meet a friend for coffee or attempt one of the things on your list that you would describe as enjoyment. Plan to do at least one of these things each day, even something as small as having a moment to read, meditate, and take the time to acknowledge that you are enjoying something, feel what it’s like to be happy, and stop looking forward at what you think will make you happy. Because, that chase will never come to an end.