“Finding happiness is like finding yourself. You don’t find happiness, you make happiness. You choose happiness. Self-actualization is a process of discovering who you are, who you want to be and paving the way to happiness by doing what brings you the most meaning and contentment to your life over the long run.” ~ David Leonhardt, American Journalist
What is a life if it isn’t a life filled with joy? The journey of life is intended to be enjoyed. We are meant to be happy, live with ease, and be blissful in our existence.
So, how do we choose to attain internal happiness and a joyful life?
I think we all try to find ways to snag a bit of joy here and there in our hectic lives, but if we are to truly pause, and ask ourselves “are we full of joy?” What would your truthful answer be?
I think many of us can say ‘yes’, I am happy, but we may couch it in conditional terms. I am happy WHEN I do something helpful for someone, or I am happy WHEN I spend quality time with my loved ones, or I am happy WHEN….you fill in the blank.
However, we have a choice. We can choose to find happiness within ourselves first with unconditionality.
The difficulty in that simple truth is that there are so many situations, experiences, and circumstances in life that can bring us pain, suffering, adversity, and hardship that we lose sight of the joy in the everyday. We can become jaded, cynical, bitter, and lost in our ability to be happy at all.
It’s normal to have difficult days and go through trying times, but if we are to have a quality life, then ideally we need to be heart and soul happy from the outset; so that when problems do arise, we can handle them with grace and ease. Ideally, we should be able to see the blessing in the lesson, so that the struggle doesn’t shake or destroy our core joy.
So, how do we find happiness in the now, not in some quantifiable future time?
I believe it starts with the inward journey of really understanding and knowing who you are, what you want, and finding self-worth and self-love in the process.
I know in my personal experience, I have been working very hard on being happy and content with who I am, and just as my life currently is. And it’s not easy. I work at it every day because I don’t have everything I want. We all seek and desire something outside of ourselves that we feel will bring us true joy. That is normal.
I want to get married and be surrounded by family. I want to have financial freedom and be a successful writer and entrepreneur. I want a home to call my own and I don’t ever want to live alone again. I want to be with my future husband and travel the world.
We all have our personal list of dreams and desires that we are working toward. And we are all also probably hoping that as soon as we can check each goal off the list, we will become happier and happier as life goes on.
But, it doesn’t work that way. What if you never got any of the things on your personal dream list? What if the way your life is right now was it? Would you still be happy? Would you still be full of joy?
My intuitive coach asked me a profound question a year and a half ago. She asked me if all I had were the current clothes on my back and nothing else, would I be happy? At the moment I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and I started crying because that would mean all I had were these clothes, nothing else- no home, no car, nothing. Would I be happy?
And I thought, “NO!” And it made me cry so much because I realized my self-worth was tied into my identity as a teacher, how I was living my life in California, and the ability to have the freedoms of owning a car, having nice clothes, and making money.
It was an ah hah moment for me because it showed me how my self-worth was linked to external things, and attainment of goals, and objects which ultimately we think give us happiness. It seems like a simple question to ask yourself, but really try to put yourself in that vulnerable and honest place and I think you will find your answer.
So, when I started to find that I was worthy and whole with nothing, meaning not working as a teacher or making the amount of money I used to make, I found myself being happy with my life just as it was.
I did this through learning to love myself just as I am. I was enough, as is.
In life, we are all told that family and friends are what makes us rich and full of joy, and that is always the truth. I have always believed that.
However, there are people who have loved ones in their lives, but are still unhappy. And I think it’s because they are not happy on the inside or with themselves.
We need to be happy with who we are, stripped down with nothing and see if we like what we see. Do you like who you are without a career, a home, family, money or material items? Do you feel joy and bliss as is?
So many of us are programmed in our society to measure our worth through what we do or how we act or how we live our lives in a material sense. There’s so much competition and comparison in our world today about getting ahead, being successful, and living a financially rich life. We even seek love from others instead of finding it in ourselves first.
And personal success, attaining goals, having money, and being in love ARE wonderful things. But they are even more amazing things to have in our lives when we are already happy on the inside first. Then, I think we can see these gifts and blessings just as that, gifts and blessings, as opposed to a means to find happiness.
Now, when I receive abundance, I see it as icing on the cake. If I can be happy in this present moment without anything, genuinely, sincerely grateful and happy, every day when I wake up, then everything else in life is a bonus. I will not view my dreams coming true as tied to my identity or self-worth.
And I can honestly say I am happy as is, even though circumstances and stress can cause temporary sadness. When we are content with where we are in the moment, we can still see joy despite the struggle.
Since that ah hah moment, when I am working towards goals and checking things off my personal list, I try my best to find joy in the little things, in the simple pleasures of helping others, or doing activities I enjoy.
If we find joy in ourselves first, and can be happy with who we are at the core, then we can also find joy in the activities that bring us pleasure. Otherwise, doing things that make us feel good or giving ourselves to others in service will just be a bandaid over the real issue of being internally happy.
And when you can get to that point, then you have found the key to being happy in the moment and finding joy in the journey.
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Buddha
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