Everyone has different ideas of what brings one happiness and how to attain it in life, but generally, the media coupled with a consumerist society tends to feed us ideas such as: if we “buy this” or “look like that” then we will be happy. Happiness in this context is a goal to be sought after, a new measure of success even – if you aren’t a happy person, you aren’t good enough or something is “wrong” with you.
In my experience, happiness is not a constant state of being and I try not to be driven by the desire to be happy. What I have found to lead me toward greater life satisfaction and more moments of happiness in life is actually shifting my focus toward living authentically rather than focusing on living happily.
Happiness to me, more or less, seems to be one of the products of allowing ourselves to live authentically, connected to what truly moves us in life while also allowing ourselves to become aware of the things that hold us back or cause suffering.
If we are unhappy or unsatisfied in life, we must be honest with ourselves about it, we must allow ourselves to see the truth within us because this is what empowers us to change. When we continuously avoid the reality that we are unsatisfied or suffering in our lives, through denial and distractions that may even lead to addictions, we cause ourselves to suffer more. Avoiding and distracting ourselves from the truth of our dissatisfaction prevents us from being able to make real, lasting change from within. In my experience, much of the dissatisfaction or suffering in life is a product of being undernourished or malnourished in our physical, mental, and/or emotional lives.
The nature of Life itself is to grow and change. Us humans sometimes forget that we are part of Life. We must allow ourselves to grow if we want to feel alive, if we want to be alive. What encourages us in life as well as what discourages us in life may shift and change and we must also shift and change, like migratory birds or deciduous trees – when the seasons change, so do they, and if they stayed still, they would suffer and eventually die at the least from lack of nourishment. We must allow ourselves to see when we are not being properly nourished in our physical, mental, and emotional life, and we must have the courage to change. This will mean something different for everyone and there is not one path that suits all.
Becoming aware of the things that inspire us and what we connect with are the things that nourish the growth and stability of our mind, body, and spirit. A deep happiness/life satisfaction is the product of continuously allowing ourselves to grow toward the things that call to us, and sometimes the call may just be a whisper. Pay attention to what that grabs your interest and explore these things with curiosity and without expectation.
To grow is a courageous act – we don’t know where we are going or who we truly are entirely, we are always unfolding, blooming, opening ourselves up to judgement, criticism, rejection. It is extremely vulnerable and terrifying, but necessary and strengthening. When we open to growth, we open to the potential within ourselves, to newness and to the shedding of old. Life’s flow from dark to light, unknown to known, seemingly nothing to something. There will always be unknown, life will always be growing and changing and that is what makes life exciting. When we embrace this, we thrive; when we don’t, we suffer.