I think the word 'Happy' is overrated. I think we fixate on this Happiness. How to Be Happy. The Happiness Project. Don't worry, be Happy. Here's my take on it. Don't be Happy. Or at least, don't aim to be Happy.
Let's look at the word 'Happy'. Actually I've written it enough now that it's starting to sound weird in my brain. What a silly word. Happy. H-A-P-P-Y... anyway I digress.
Happiness is a Feeling. A mere, fleeting Feeling. What is a Feeling? It's a wave. They come in different sizes, these Feeling waves, some giant and thundering and destructive, some barely small enough to be called a ripple.
And I don't think, any more, that a Feeling is something to be aiming for.Why do we spend SO much of our time chasing emotions? Emotions don't last, people. They come and then they go. Sometimes those emotions have secondary reactive emotions, you feel afraid and then BOOM you feel embarrassed that you were afraid. Or you feel resentment towards someone and then BOOM you feel guilty about resenting them. It may seem like I'm rambling, and I am, but the point I'm trying to introduce is that Happiness is not something to seek out. Happiness does not last. Happiness is vapid, short-lived and shallow. But if not Happiness, what then?
If we are going to replace this emotion as our goal, what should we be aiming for? Let's try some concrete replacements. Lose weight? Sure, that's measurable, but is it lasting? Will it radically change how you feel about yourself? Science says probably not. In fact, it has been proven that if you hate yourself when you are fat, you will probably hate yourself when you are thin. What else can we aim for? There are many physical, tangible, concrete things that we can measure ourselves by, that we believe will change our status, either within or without ourselves. But do these goals with lots of numbers, do they really make us better people? I don't think so. I've tried, and it hasn't worked. No. Let's scrap those ideas. Let's aim for something trickier than that.
Now, here's a cheesy word: Authentic. Roll it over your tongue, that's right, Authentic. Authenticity. The Authentic Self. Authentic Parenting, Authentic Eating, Authentic Hair-Washing. You've heard it all before, I know, but I'm going to try and trim it down a bit. Make it more, I don't know, grabbable. I'm going to go ahead and suggest, that instead of seeking Happiness this year, we could instead seek Authenticity. And, just maybe, if we unravel this idea of Authenticity out a bit, we might just find ourselves experiencing emotions not dissimilar to Happiness! So then, how to be Authentic.
Grab a quiet moment and a cup of coffee, and if you're like me, a pen and paper(SO old-school I know). Don't write anything down right away. Just sit and think, and watch the coffee and milk swirl slowly around the rim of the mug. Sit and think about what you wish you could be like, if no one was watching or judging you. No one. Bear with me. Just imagine what you would be doing if there was no one else on Earth. Or if you were invisible. Or if you were visible but no one looked at you or saw you. Do you get the picture? What would this 'you' be wearing? What would this 'you' be doing? What do you WISH you could do or be or say or look like or wear, if you didn't care what any one else thought about you?? THAT, that invisible, intriguing, raw, crazy whirlwind of a person. THAT is your 'Authentic Self'. Ok, you can write it down now. Go! Write it! Ok, now, listen up. You can be that person. You can be totally, utterly, 100% you. You Can DO It!!! This Year! Do you want to know why I know this? I'm doing it too babe, I'm on the same train. And, I believe as a direct result, I'm feeling Happier more often.
Here's a brief run down of my journey. 5 years ago, in the midst of a flood of emotions, gripped by depression, I tried to take my own life. It didn't work, duh. I've talked about this before, and I'll probably talk about it again, and that's because it was a turning point in my life. I walked out of hospital(ok, shuffled out, draped inelegantly around my husbands shoulders) and I haven't looked back. I said to myself, that didn't work. THAT, that stunt you just pulled? It's not for you. Living is for you. I don't want anyone to think for a second that I haven't ever been horribly depressed since. Of course I have. Depression is a chronic, long-term illness, look it up. But since that rather dramatic failure, I've been moving forward. One step forward, two steps back sometimes, sure. But I have not, ever, looked back. And part of my new, post-almost-dying journey has been a belief that I no longer have to be ashamed of who I am.
I do Not. Have. To. Apologize. Ever. For who I am.
And since then, I've been doing the things I always wanted to do, but was too afraid to. I'd always wanted to shave off all my hair, but was AFRAID of what people would think. So I shaved my hair off. And I loved it! So much I've done it more than once! I'd always wanted to have at least 3 kids, if not more, and after all the discussing back and forth about what was a rather major decision, it came down to this: I was AFRAID of what people would say to me when I said we wanted another. And then we did it. And yeah, people said stuff. And yeah, it hurt. A lot. But I'm so so glad we chose to live without fear in that moment, to take our future into our hands, to claim our dream. And baby, you should see that number 3 girl. Oh man. I'd also always wanted to get a tattoo, but I was AFRAID of what people would say or think. And then I did it, and I loved it, and now I'm addicted! I love having tattoos! Who knew? I love choosing them and dreaming them up and designing them and talking about them and I love the process of getting them(yes, even the pain) and I love the collection of them on my body, the story that I'm building, my gallery. So guess what? This next year I am getting more, because I want to. Because I'm not Afraid any more. Ditto for homeschooling and stretching my lobes and getting a dog and then giving it away. My business, my choices.
So I guess what I'm trying to say, what has been my experience, is that the more fearless you are, the more you step out on your own two feet and say THAT... THAT is what I want, THAT is who I am, THAT is my future... that is being truly, madly, deeply, Authentic.
And I really want that for you. I want it for my kids. Heck, I want more of it for me. And as we seek this Authenticity, as we hope and dream and believe that maybe, just maybe, Someone out there is longing for us to shine like the unique, blazing stars that we are, this is where I think we'll find Happiness. Not Happiness an object, a solid blob of shiny rainbow gold. Happiness as a Feeling. As a deep, contented, joyful, lasting Feeling.
Tell me, what crazy, awesome, ridiculous things have you always wanted to be, wear, smell like, say to people, write down, draw or paint? Muchly Authentic New Year peeps, and many shining rainbows. xx