There seems to be a real trend these days in happiness. What, when you’re younger, is deemed as a simple emotion, one you perhaps feel on a daily basis or as a reaction to a particular occurrence is now becoming a science experiment; a sociological study; a past time.
If you Google “finding happiness”, over 74 million results stare back at you. Hundreds of blogs, forums and articles deem to be able to tell you the ‘Top 7 Ways to Feel Happy’ or the ’10 Truths you Need to Know Before you Find Happiness’. Happiness is a saturated market and something that people are analysing day in and day out. It’s no longer a feeling; it’s an obsession.
I’ve been aware of this for some while: about two years ago, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at quite a miserable time in my life. I was commuting to and from the city daily with little social life, a job that I liked but didn’t love, next to no time with my loved ones and very little direction or drive in life. Rubin’s documentation of her year-long quest to find happiness in life’s everyday-ness struck a chord with me and I felt determined to pursue my own happiness project. I left my job and secured a great role closer to home; I bought a house with my partner; I started a blog. But it didn’t last long. Life got in the way and soon, happiness slipped back in the queue.
Last week, I was watching TV, a series on BBC1 about losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle (I’m a bit addicted to shows like this) and the psychologist presenting the show said something simple and to the point: ‘You can’t wait to be happy.”
It struck a chord; I feel like I’m always waiting for something to change in my life in order for me to feel happy; whether that’s getting fitter and losing weight, having a pay rise, travelling the world, getting engaged, having a family, starting a business….I’m always focused on how I could be happy in the future if those things happened. I’m not thinking about how to be happy RIGHT NOW.
Why are we always waiting for happiness? Do we really think that one day we’ll wake up and think: “Hey! I’m finally feeling happy!”. Do we think that we can only be happy by reaching certain goals, certain investments, certain commitments rather than being happy in the meantime? Of course these milestones will bring their own version of happiness to our lives. That goes without saying. But those journeys can be long and hard and not without pitfalls, hurdles and stop signs.
Being happy “right now” is not something that comes naturally to many of us. Life gets in the way; it’s busy, manic, full, quick. We’ll often skip corners to get quicker results. We’re so preoccupied with planning, with catastrophising, with worrying, that we completely forget to just be happy and to smile. One of my biggest takeaways from The Happiness Project, which, by the way, I’ve now read 3 times and couldn’t recommend more, is that happiness can be found in life’s smaller things: the everyday things such as time with our families and friends, being creative, completing a project.
I’m going to try extra hard from now on to just be happy in the moment: appreciate where I am right now for what it is. Right now, it’s bank holiday Monday and I’m not at work, I’m sat on my sofa in my joggers with Spotify’s Acoustic Covers playlist playing, a cup of tea next to me with a day of absolute nothing but time with Toby ahead and life couldn’t be more blissful RIGHT NOW.
I’m sure each and every one of my “big life goals” such as having a family, getting married, being promoted, buying a bigger house would bring me happiness in some shape or form. But what about right now? I don’t want to assume that I have to wait for happiness. Why waste all that time? I want to accept that it surrounds me every single day; I just have to embrace it.
P.S The reason I chose the photo above for this post was because I don’t think I’ve ever been captured looking more carefree, happy and relaxed in my own skin as that. It was my friend Charlotte and Tom’s wedding day and it was truly magical; a day of pure, true happiness.