Do you feel like happiness is more elusive than ever? Like God must have skipped you when he was handing out the “happy” gene?
I have to admit I used to feel that way. And it never made sense to me because I had a great childhood. But then suddenly depression hit me like a brick wall. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why I should feel depressed when I had so much to be thankful for.
At that point in my life I chased happiness like it was a runaway freight train full of gold. I seemed to have read every resource out there on how to be happy. But somehow true happiness seemed to always be out of my reach.
It wasn’t until this passed Fall that I had a grand realization about happiness.
But let me be clear that when I speak of happiness, I don’t mean the constant state of feeling elated each and every waking hour of my life. What I’m referring to is a general state of mind. Of course I expect highs and lows in life – anything otherwise would be unnatural and unhealthy.
So what happened in the Fall? Well, first of all I started back to work full time. The previous year I had been part time as a way to “ease back in” to work after my long illness.
Everything was going quite well until I started feeling those signs of depression again. I know them now, and I wasn’t going to wait for a major setback before taking action.
I immediately (quite literally the next day) dropped down to part time and that’s where I’m at today – and I’m thriving.
Now, you might be wondering how I manage to keep up a blog if I was struggling to keep my full-time day job. Well, this is where the big epiphany came for me – because I asked myself the same question.
You see, when I was teaching full time I truly enjoyed it. But the problem was, I had no time to myself when working those kinds of hours. I desperately wanted to write, but just couldn’t make it happen.
Not having time to foster my passion for writing made me feel trapped. I had to go to work every day for a certain time, and when I came home I was exhausted. But I didn’t have any choice – or so I thought.
When I switched to part time it meant I now had my mornings to myself. After getting the kids ready and off to school, I can now do what I want (to the degree that we can all do what we want ).
I can write all morning; I can clean up the house; I can do errands; I can do whatever I think will make me feel productive that day.
So, the key to true happiness? Choices. It’s when we feel that we have no control over what’s going on in our lives that our happiness starts to dwindle.
And although I enjoy teaching, it wasn’t enough to fulfill me. I needed an outlet for my love of writing and now I have it.
You may not be able to currently do something as drastic as going from working full time at your day job to part time, but there are many other ways to give yourself choices in your life:
1. Choose to give yourself the gift of time. Allot a certain hour or half hour of the day to do whatever it is you want. Even if it’s only 15 min, this will feel very liberating.
2. Choose to follow your passion. Give up unnecessary activities such as T.V. and Facebook. This will give you more time to pursue want you really want in life. Think about it…Do you know anyone whose passion in life is to watch more T.V.?
3. Choose to say no. Say no to the myriad of after-school activities you have your children enrolled in (they may even thank you!). Say no to a co-worker when they ask you if you have time to take on yet another project.
4. Choose to be honest with yourself. Lying will get you nowhere – especially when it’s to yourself. Are you living your best life? What realistic changes can you make that will make life more fulfilling?
5. Choose to give yourself choices. Seem redundant? Think about it. Often we keep telling our selves we “don’t have a choice”, when actually, we always do. You just have to be willing to open your eyes and your mind to all the possibilities in front of you.
6. Choose to be happy. Stop chasing. Just be.
And lastly, take your focus off of your state of mind and start counting your blessings. Put your focus on helping someone else. You’ll hopefully realize that not only are you not as bad off as you thought, but nothing breeds happiness like doing something for others.