All anybody wants in life is to be happy, right? But what is happiness? And how do we achieve it?
Does it come in the way of a big house? Nice clothes? The perfect job? The love of another?
As I move through life in pursuit of emotional calm, it’s a question I ask myself all the time.
So what’s the answer? If you asked the 20 year old me, I’d have said, “all of the above.” But that was a different me—a younger, more naive me who looked solely to external influences as sources of happiness. As a result, I found myself miserable much of the time. I didn’t realize it then, but now looking back I see it clear as day; I was not happy with myself, and any real happiness I experienced was superficial—and not sustainable.
Now ask the older and much wiser me and I will answer with a resounding, “none of the above.” Sure those things help, but they do not pave the path to a fulfilling life; they are merely sources of fuel along the way. Today, at the ripe old (young) age of 40, I view life through a much different lens—a lens of self awareness and appreciation.
All to often, we look to other people to validate our own worth, and we look to material things to bring us immediate satisfaction. The younger me certainly did, and frankly I think most of us have probably done so at one point or another. But the person I am today—the more evolved me—makes it a priority to look inward to find that place of happiness and peace.
Most of the time, I can do this with ease. But there are times when I falter—especially as of late.
I was talking to a friend recently who is going through some difficulty at home, and she said something that stuck with me. She was talking about finding a sense of peace and happiness in the face of all that was going on around her. She explained what works for her is to envision a little blueish/whitish light deep within—a light that’s always lit; it cannot be put out by others. This is her light of inner peace and contentment.
In a place of confusion and anxiety at the time of our discussion, I found her words extremely helpful—and profound. It just made perfect sense to me.
So I immediately put her suggestion into practice, and it’s worked like a charm. Now, when I feel myself getting rattled by something around me—something outside of my control—I stop and envision that little light. I breathe deeply and reminded myself that I, and I alone, have control over how I respond to every experience—good or bad.
As I muddle through life facing challenges of my own, I choose happiness. When I feel I’m about to crumble, or even when I do crumble, I challenge myself to see the light in life—and in me.
Here’s the thing: I am at a place in my life where I know who I am. I know I’m a whole person, regardless of who is or isn’t’ in my life. Regardless of money or material possessions. Regardless of failures of the past. Regardless of the disappointments life throws my way. I like who I am, I accept my flaws and I have faith in myself. I know how to be happy in my own skin. Having confidence in those core truths infuses me with sense of peace and a foundation of happiness that guides me through life. With a focus on that inner light that shines from a place of self reliance, I keep myself steady, calm and content.