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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Happiness Is A Choice

Aeschylus once wrote: “Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.” Hands held high aside from this quote, I don’t know much about him. A quick Google tells me he was a Greek playwright but for the purpose of this post, in my opinion, he was completely right. I know I may ruffle a few feathers here but I wholeheartedly believe that you choose to be happy.

Happiness, like a lot of things in life, is subjective. What makes one person happy will make someone else sad. It’s not formulaic. You can’t say by doing X and adding X will = a lifetime of bliss. We’re not an equation. Humans are complex creatures and we’re all programmed differently, and although your partner, friends or family may think they know you, they only do to a certain extent. You know you best, so only you know what will truly make you happy and it’s only you you have to blame should you be unhappy and do nothing about it.

For some, being happy means a flashy car and a big house, for others it’s a fulfilling career and feeling like you’re making a difference. Maybe it’s having your own family or travelling the world. Whilst those are great aspirations, how I and lots of other people find happiness is looking for it in the mundane. To quote another great saying: “Happy people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.”

Happiness isn’t a to-do list to check off. You may get a great job, an expensive apartment and live the life of luxury but it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be happy. And it’s platforms like Instagram that sort of add to that misconception. I love Instagram but I openly admit to my friends and family that it’s not a completely real representation of my life. It doesn’t show the bad parts of what I’m going through, it just neatly puts together the pretty pictures and all of the fantastic moments I experience on the daily. It’s kind of like a photoshoot - you shoot hundreds of photos to get that one or two perfect shots. The ones that aren’t so great simply don’t make the cut.

I used to think being happy meant the big moments but now instead of milestones, I make a big deal out of the little things. I get happiness out of the everyday. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with my boss about the parts of my job I hated the most, and having worked there for some time now, I thought it would be easy to answer, but it wasn’t. I simply said that although there were aspects of my job I enjoyed that little less, if I didn’t like a task, I found a way to make it interesting or fun. She also asked what my least favourite day at work was as she didn’t particularly like Fridays. Most people in your standard 9-5 jobs dread Mondays. But it’s one of my favourite days. Why? Because I love having a purpose to my day, to enjoy my job and be surrounded by such inspiring and creative people and GET PAID to be there. Plus I work with my best friends, so whilst it is work, it doesn’t always feel like it.

Your job plays a big part in your happiness and you may not even realise it. You may be one of those people who works purely because you have to pay the bills. That’s fine too, but chances are you spend most of your life at work, so if it’s really getting you down, do something about it. Whether that’s a similar job in a different company or maybe after years of doing the job you thought you should do, you actually want to get back to the career you always dreamed about, the job deep down you know will bring more happiness to your heart and life. It may not come with a fancy salary or company benefits but it will enrich your soul more than your previous job ever could.

It’s not just about your job but where you live too and again, in your ‘if the world was my oyster’ mindset, that may be a beach front property in Australia or a 66th floor apartment in Manhattan, but if you can’t physically afford to move where you’d ideally like to go, make the most of what you’ve got. That might be a new lick of paint, putting up some cherished photos or simply re-arranging your furniture to give your space a new lease of life. Basically what I’m trying to get at is that happiness and to be happy costs nothing. You are in charge of your own destiny and your own happiness. Most of the things that make me happy in my life are free - like watching the sun set, dancing ’til dawn, playing pool or beating my friends at a game of Slam (Megan, I’m looking at you).

How do you start to be happy? Work back. It’s such an amazing thing that we’re here on this earth and we’re alive and healthy. Be happy about that. Be happy you have a roof over your head, a job to earn money and friends and family that love you. Aside from your family, you choose who you have in your life, which is why I won’t settle for anyone or anything that doesn’t add to my life being a blissful one. I treat my friends as I do my partners - any new person in your life should be a benefit not a drain. They should enhance your life not control it, allow you to still be yourself and be part of the crazy rollercoaster with you, not try and stop you living. The people you have in your life for me, is about 80% of my life’s happiness. I choose who I have in my life, who I spend time with and on the other hand, who I avoid and who I don’t allow to get in my head. Sometimes it completely overwhelms me how much the people I love make me happy. Whether it’s a meaningful hug, an all-night conversation about life or just being completely blown away by someone’s goodness - they’re all happiness choices.

But mostly happiness is about your mindset. My life and your life isn’t an Instagram dream. See every obstacle as a challenge. Turn every negative into a positive. Have faith and find a way to make it work. If it scares you, chances are you should do it even more. Be passionate about everything you do, whether that’s love, your career, your hobbies - don’t live a lukewarm life - choose to be happy and choose what you want out of life. 2015 was by no means perfect, but the people who were in it made the bad times seem irrelevant - so the below is a gift to them...

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