Over the last year or so I was often asking myself this question over and over again. I found myself in this place where I expected to be happier.
I had come through an amazing experience in therapy. I had identified values and beliefs which were true to who I am. I really felt as if I was becoming the best version of myself and living my life in a way that should have been making me happy.
So why was I so sad?
Why was I never as happy as I wanted?
What was missing in my life?
I had started to cultivate the most important relationships in my life again, I was putting in the effort again in places that gave me lots of meaning. I was proud of the things I was doing, I was achieving all my goals and everything seemed to be heading in a good direction.
Yet I wasn’t happy.
Sometimes I even felt sad more than I felt happy. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Was I going to be unhappy forever?
In my despair, I came across this beautiful idea that really changed the way I looked at life and happiness.
If we seek to only be happy then we create a deficit from what we are feeling right now to what we want to be feeling in the future. Saying “I just want to be happy” was ultimately stripping me of the ability to be happy in the present moment. Which is the only thing that really matters. This moment. The moment we spend all of our existence in.
I realized I was casting this massive expectation on myself to feel or be a certain way because I felt I was supposed to. Life was good, so I should be happy. Really when I think about it, what an impossible expectation to live up to.
I have realised now that the aim should not be just to be happy. No, instead I have let go of that idea entirely. I don’t have to be happy, I don’t have to be anything. No amount of expectation put on me by others or myself will ever change the way I feel. So why was I holding myself to this standard when it ultimately didn’t matter?
I think that some sort of societal pressure was forcing me to believe that constant happiness was the goal. It isn’t. Social media always forced me to see people in constant states of happiness which really made me feel worse. Removing that from my life was another factor that helped me see the truth of my struggle.
Now I just try to live in the moment as close to my values as possible. It is really a beautiful way to see the world. No matter the circumstance or how I am feeling emotionally, if I just live true to myself it will be meaningful.
It completely removes the expectation and the idea that something is good or bad. Life, moments, and experiences are only good or bad if we cast a belief over them making them so.
Life isn’t good or bad. Life just is. My only responsibility is to live it at this moment right now however I see fit. I can feel and be how I truly am. I can live meaningfully regardless of the circumstance.
At the end of the day, this will all end. All those moments of me pressuring myself to feel happy won’t matter. Regardless if I was happy or not. What will matter is how I acted and the choices I made. The only way to do this in a way that reflects what I truly want in life is to be present at that moment.
Now all I try to do is be present. By doing so I can truly experience everything for what is it. Never casting my emotions into a future state or looking back on the past. Thinking this way won’t change what is happening right now.
If I live in the present, feelings of joy, excitement and fulfilment will naturally rise to the surface. Each moment can be beautiful and special. I will take this over “happiness” any day.