July 29, 2016 by Cláudia
My whole life has been an unceasing search for a sense of peace, joy and acceptance – what typically we call the search for happiness. However, my whole life I have always felt a constant and at times deep state of unhappiness and malaise. At all times, I associated this with specific causes and therefore created milestones for happiness:
If only I had someone who loved me, I would be happy… If more people liked me… If I were prettier… If my parents were more understanding… If I had true friends…
If, if, if…
I would be happy if only I had this and this and this, but it would never end. It took me long enough but now I understand that happiness doesn’t come from outside factors, it comes from within. Outside factors can amplify happiness, a true friend, a passion or a hobby etc, but if I don’t feel it before, even if I have everything I thought I need, I will always find something more I lack.
There is always something else we think we need. We look at other people and think if we had what they have, we would be happy. Sometimes I even looked at the lives of people I know didn’t feel happy and thought that if I had what they had, I would be happy, which is absurd and unfair. We never know someone’s real struggle. From outside no one can understand the real train wreck that goes inside my head and that goes both ways. So we can easily misunderstand how someone’s life really is and disregard how hard they also can be struggling.
And we keep trying to feel happiness – it’s ultimately what everyone is trying to do in their own way, right? – and we constantly try to achieve it by creating new things, meeting new people, buying things etc. We generally perceive happiness as something that will come from something new but maybe it’s time to consider it may come from what we already have.
Trying to find happiness outside ourselves is a very unholy battle and also counterproductive. Looking for something so precious in the wrong places will lead to frustration and desperation. Everything we achieve that we thought would make us happy will always be followed by something else we just realized we need to feel good. And it’s an endless cycle.
And I have done all that. One of the worst things I have done was to put the pressure of me feeling good on someone else, while doing nothing in order to feel good. That was so unfair and also a very unholy battle for both of us – to sit and wait for someone to fix a behavior only I could fix for myself.
I understood all that now and I understand also that there is so much I still don’t understand. From my (still low) experience, happiness is to be found within, if we look inside with kind eyes and realize we are worthy of love. It comes from self-love, which may seem rather loaded by I find it deep in my heart that it’s true. It comes from taking good care of ourselves, from acting accordingly to our beliefs and realizing we can’t truly feel good about ourselves if we don’t treat ourselves and others with kindness and compassion. Happiness comes from trying to be our best self, but also from being understanding and forgiving when we are not. From being mindful of our choices and the impact they will have on ourselves and others.
One place I already found that happiness came was from feeling gratitude. The idea of feeling grateful for my life used to really revolt me – I felt truly miserable, I didn’t want to give thanks, I wanted to feel the well-being I felt like I deserved. But I did and do have great things to be grateful for, even if I didn’t want to admit. I was wrong and was only sabotaging my own happiness. There are always opposing forces running together and even if it seems like everything is going wrong, there is always some source of goodness somewhere around us. It was when I started to truly recognize those that I discovered inside me a whole lot of reasons to feel good.
However, I am still not okay. Unhappiness is still my almost constant state of soul. But right now I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been and that’s a real reason to feel deeply grateful for.
Life is not easy: there are a million reasons to demotivate and give up. I’m there all the time – not wanting to try any harder. Truth is, there is no formula, there is no special potion, no pill or magic that can make someone feel true happiness. You can’t buy it, steal it or force it – you just have to create it for yourself.