Last month, I was out for lunch with a very wise friend of mine. We chatted about life and our current goings on, and I confessed to her that I felt that I just can’t find “happy”. I explained that my mind is continuously coming up with things that would seemingly make me the happiest I’ve ever been, but even when I achieve those things it is not enough. I always want more. I illustrated how frustrated and upset I am by this because I have a blog about being happy, after all.
Why does it seem I am forever searching for happiness?
This friend of mine, wise as she is, advised me that our current competitive culture encourages us to continuously be on the hunt for the next big thing. She went on to reference how, when our parents were younger, there was no such thing as taking time to go explore south-east Asia for 6 months. Instead, they finished school, got a job, and worked hard to provide to their family– and they were ok with that.
In today’s society, that type of life can look ‘boring’. Where’s the big adventure? Where are all the unique experiences?
What used to be the norm and exciting, has now become bland in many people’s eyes. In my parent’s day, however, they didn’t see it as bland. There wasn’t this incessant need to traipse around the world, have the coolest and the most unique adventures, all the while being the CEO of your favourite company (and making top dollar to afford all the adventures). Having a job, a partner, and a family was what life was all about, and if you achieved these things you were probably pretty happy.
How? How do I be happy with that too, instead of always wanting more?
At this point in the conversation we had put our Chicken Club sandwiches down because we were talking too much. Then, without hesitation, my friend looked right at me, and said, “Pennee, you are looking for peace, not happiness.”
She blew my mind.
How had I not seen this before? My hunt to be ‘happy’ often makes me think of the opportunities I do not have, the money I do not have, the social network I do not have. Seeing all these gaps in what I have, I come up with ways to fill them: make more friends, do more travel, make more money. It’s exhausting!
I need to change my focus. Instead of looking for what can make me happy, I need to start thinking about what brings me peace (or, in other words, what decisions or things do I have that I feel a deep sense of agreement with and would not want to change).
In true ‘Pennee’ fashion, I made a list of things that bring me peace:
– I am at peace with my decision to marry Brandon.
– I am at peace with my decision to move to Burlington.
– I am at peace with our decision to live close to our family.
– I am at peace with bringing Jalapeño into our family.
Once I started making this list of decisions I have made that I am at peace with, I realized that I am happy with those decisions too. They bring me daily joy and stream colour into my life. Yes, I might sacrifice other things to maintain the list of what brings me peace, but I am ok with those sacrifices. In the end, everything I achieve outside of the list is just ‘extra’.
Yes, I am posting this blog while I am literally about to traipse around Africa. I am totally fulfilling the expectations of the current competitive culture to go on one of those incredibly unique adventures; but, now I realize that instead of needing to go on this trip to make me happy, this is one of those ‘extras’ that is icing on my already super delicious (ice cream) cake.