Happiness: A good place to start is with yourself

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The quest for happiness is real. It’s everywhere. You don’t have to look far, particularly online, to see ways that people are trying to be happier. Dieting, wardrobe overhauls, taking up hobbies and exercise, finding ways to feel better about life in general. We’re all at it. And we document it extensively. We Instagram it and tweet it and show everyone what we’re doing. HIYA LOOK AT ME AT PILATES BEING SPIRITUAL AND CLEANSING MY SOUL TO BE HAPPIER. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person.

Chances are, putting a photo of your lovely flowers online and hashtagging happiness, won’t actually improve your mental health. But we all know that deep down, because we are not idiots.

Everyone wants a piece of happiness and rightly so. A lot of time when I read about people trying to change their lives to be a bit more blissful, it’s usually centred around things that involve or please other people. I feel like there’s this big, fat missing point that you can’t be really happy unless you’re happy with yourself. You can’t force happiness into any old situation you might happen to be in. You can’t fake it or just pretend. It makes sense right? If you are generally, honestly really happy with the way you are and the way YOUR life is, then surely that’s the most important thing?

A couple of years ago I thought happiness could be found in being skinnier. Before that I thought it was found in being the same as everyone else around me at that time, liking the same music, wanting the same jobs, getting as drunk and going out as much as them and just feeling accepted. Last year I thought it could be found in keeping up with my friends. Earning as much, saving as much, moving house, getting promotions. All it did was make me feel exhausted, inadequate and pissed off. Like, angry at life. Angry at myself. Angry at all these people who in actual fact I love, I was just trying hard to keep up with. I wasn’t remotely happy with myself, I was just trying to do what everyone else seemed to do to be happy. I mean, when you actually write it down, it makes it seem really, seriously lame.

I don’t know how to be eternally happy with myself. I don’t know how to stop feeling like I need to compete with people or keep an eye on what my friends are doing constantly. I don’t know how to combat negative energy and make it irrelevant to me. I don’t know how to do any of it and I don’t know anyone who does, but I like to think I will one day. What I have slowly come to know though, is that when people aren’t happy with themselves they constantly search for reassurance and approval, it’s draining. It’s negative. It’s not what I want for my friends or anyone else and definitely not for me.

I am about as happy with myself now as I ever have been, but there’s still a way to go. That goes for a lot of people I’m close to. They are in good places, but  we definitely still have lessons to learn and bad habits to shed. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s faking having the best life ever. I mean, I could post a photo of me looking absolutely thrilled at work eating some kind of superfood salad in expensive clothes and some money thrown around me for good measure. But I won’t, because a) I’m not insane and b) It’s so far from the truth of my life. Instead of aiming to copy what the masses are doing to feel happy, I think we all need to concentrate on number one. I would be okay with someone aspiring to my happiness if it truly came from me instead of some unrealistic ideal I’ve latched onto.

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