I think I’ve lived my entire life in the pursuit of happiness. I want to get to a place in my life where although everything isn’t perfect (because that doesn’t exist), I’m content and have genuine joy in my heart, not the feeling of obligatory gratefulness for having found a certain level of good fortune in life.
My relative sanity fluctuates greatly depending on a ridiculous amount of factors. My work life, my home life, my friendships, parenting experiences, finances, health, relationships, etc., all play into whether I wake up excited for to face the world or whether I stare at the ceiling while I coax myself up to deal with whatever I know is on my plate that day. But those are temporal. For me, there was something deeper, lurking beneath those stressors that changed how I looked at everything.
This is absolutely a conversation about mental health. I deal with it a lot in my job, but I pay attention to it more in other aspects of my life now. Mental health is not a joke and is so much realer than I think a lot of people want to acknowledge. I’ve never sought professional help around my own mental health, but I’ve considered it and if I ever really feel like I need it, I’d do so in a heartbeat. *gasp* So many people I know frown on it, but my thinking is if your own coping mechanisms aren’t working, bring in a professional to help you figure it out. Point blank, period.
Anyways, I found myself getting into a pattern of rationalizing/bargaining with my happiness. My thoughts would usually start with “If things would just slow down …” or “I just need a new [significant other, job, hobby, etc.]” or “Once I finish ….” or “I just need to relax and [shop, read, eat, have sex] and things will be good again.” Let me tell you, none of those things singularly changed my outlook on life. They may have lowered my stress levels or provided some short-term distractions from the big picture, but the fact was, they did not singularly make me (un)happy.
A job didn’t make me happy. A relationship didn’t make me happy. A vacation didn’t make me happy. A new outfit didn’t make me happy. A new hobby didn’t make me happy.
So what did?