For me, happiness always looked a certain way - it was me, healthy, busy, in a relationship with a good man for me, married or at least engaged, with a successful career, a good income, in my own house, with a great social life, a big group of friends and a few best friends. Fairly standard really, nothing out of the ordinary and it didn't feel like I was asking for too much - I mean that's what most people have, right?
For a long time I've thought that I wouldn't or couldn't be happy until I achieved all of those things - not just a couple; but every single thing on the "happiness list". I even had a mental check-list in my head to cross things off. I wasn't doing very well with it though. Still living at home, a long way from healthy, relationship? Well that would involve me being able to actually meet anyone, plus how could I expect somebody to deal with my health limitations, hardly seemed fair. Friendships - tick; but I'm not able to see them much - especially the ones who live on the other side of the country or even the world.
The only thing I knew I'd found was my passion - you're looking at it - helping people who feel stuck, just like me, and who want more from life.
It was the only thing in my life I was really sure of and it has brought me happiness; but I thought that didn't count because there were so many other areas in my life that I wasn't happy about. Surely the negatives out-weigh the positives and then make it a negative too? The frustration has to overwhelm the joy, right?
Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn't; but either way the aching lack of the things I wanted, made happiness seem impossible.
Then a few weeks ago I read a book which was saying that the happiness millionaires experience is no different to the happiness that you or I feel when we're doing something we love. There's only one type of joy and if you feel it, it's real and important. That struck such a chord with me, this sudden realisation that I could be healthy, I could be rich, I could be a million different things; but the moments when I feel the world light up around me, when I'm watching my favourite TV show, I'm eating a piece of cake, preferably chocolate, I'm playing solitaire on the computer (yes I know all these fancy new games and my favourite is still solitaire), when my favourite song comes on the radio or I'm lost in a good book - those moments of happiness are real and true. That joy couldn't get any better, in that moment I couldn't be any happier. It was such a huge realisation for me!
Of course that doesn't change the fact that there are still lots of things in my life I wish I could change; but I realised that I don't have to wait for them to be different for me to acknowledge happiness. I never really understood the saying "Happiness is a journey, not a destination". I mean theoretically I understood it; but I didn't "get" it. Now I do. Now it makes sense.
I'm not happy 100% of the time, I'm not even sure how much of the time I am truly happy; but I am starting to recognise it more and know that it is real and that I want to appreciate it. To be aware so that I can see it when it happens again and it's like I'm becoming more attuned to it, so that I know what happiness feels like for me, it even seems to be happening more, or at least I can "see" it when it does happen.
The vision of what I want my life to be like still exists in my head, it's still the place I desperately want to get to; but until it does happen (if/when) then I'm going to enjoy happiness wherever I find it.
Where do you find happiness? What makes you smile? Are you aware of it when it happens? I'd love to hear your experiences.
I won the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition. My novel, The Box, is going to be published on 25th July 2019, by Orion