I look for happiness in the journey, not the destination
I used to think “I’ll be happy when I obtain my Ph.D.”, or “I’ll be pleased when my baby begins sleeping through the night”. These significant life events that I believed had to occur often determined my level of pleasure. I was unaware that pleasure isn’t always found in these material successes or landmarks. Happiness is more often discovered in route.
I don’t recall the exact night when my daughter began sleeping through, but I do recall the extended periods of time spent cuddling up to her little body as I awaited the onset of deep slumber. After six arduous hours in the water, on the bike, and in the running, I wasn’t very happy when I crossed the finish line (perhaps because I was too fatigued!). Yet, I have many fond recollections of my preparation for that occasion. The trip in both instances was more uplifting and happy than the final goal.
I seek simple things
These days, seeing my 5-year-old collect ladybugs is far more likely to make me really happy than a professional accomplishment. I get great delight in the little things. simple matters. I’ve developed the practice of noticing little details, such as how the sun shines on our porch in the morning or the fall foliage carpet in our backyard. Little things and things beyond of my control give me greater delight than things I’ve worked on for years.
It’s crucial to find pleasure within the routine of everyday life. There will always be dishes to wash and clothing to fold, Ph.D. or not. It’s improbable that we will find genuine happiness in the exceptional if we can’t find it in our regular, daily lives. I try to find pleasure in the little things.
I celebrate my life so far
Last year, as I neared my 40th birthday, I made the decision to take solid action to offset any possible disappointment I could be experiencing due to my unfulfilled aspirations. I so created an un-bucket list. I didn’t want to create another list of all I intended to do in the next 40 years. I preferred to concentrate on what I had accomplished to date.
The practice was also highly illuminating. First of all, I understood that the life I believed I was leading was everything from average. More had been accomplished than I gave myself credit for. Second, and more crucially, I put items on my list that helped me embrace who I am. like growing a mohawk, discovering a passion for gardening, or resolving to love oneself. I think I love each of these things and the roles they’ve played in my 40 years more than I would enjoy earning that Ph.D. because it was full of strange, quirky things that created me.
I accept that life is seasonal
One of the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced was realizing that life is seasonal. Humans are a continuation of nature. This implies that, like nature, we are constrained by the rules of the seasons. Our life must follow a seasonal pattern. That was a difficult lesson to learn, but one that was worthwhile: understanding the need for winter and relaxation.
I am more accepting of myself when I give myself permission to completely experience the season I’m in. I’m in the season of small(ish) kids right now, and by recognizing and appreciating this, I feel less bitter toward the unfinished book manuscript.
A lovely fact about seasonal life is also true. Seasons change and come and go. It may be a difficult week, but the next week will be better. However, as Marc and Angel state in their book 1,000 Little Things, “Happiness is letting go of what you imagine your life is meant to be like right now, and honestly enjoying it for all that it is.”
I seek connection over achievement
A few years back, when I first began reading about essentialism and minimalism, I soon understood that it wasn’t about the “things.” All the organizing in the world wouldn’t matter if I didn’t also pay attention to what was most important.
Minimalism, or slow living, is fundamentally about reducing one’s possessions to the bare necessities. removing the unnecessary distractions so that you can concentrate on what matters most. associating with other people. I don’t believe I’ll have any regrets if all I accomplish with my life is have meaningful connections with other people. In reality, I believe that living an average life and loving people will make me incredibly happy.
Now, it’s your turn…
Our hopes won’t always come true. We often veer from the course we believe we need to be on. Sometimes we need a failed dream to help us understand what life is actually all about. To be tremendously happy, we don’t need to have remarkable lives. Instead than keeping your eyes glued to the road, enjoy the trip by gazing out the window.