It starts with you
There are so many motivational quotes propagating social media saying how we should be the change we want to see in the world. How our own happiness depends on us. That you can do whatever you set your mind to. Most of these always come down to saying that it starts with you. You know it. I know it. The whole world knows it.
Yet somehow we fail to connect the dots while we’re searching for bigger and better things. Because in our minds, our voids will not be filled and we won’t be happy unless we achieve those dreams or goals. Present be damned.
For some it may be dropping a dress size or two. For others it may be landing that job that pays X figures. For a single person it may be finding their significant other and for a person stuck in a bad marriage it may be a desperate need for a way out. Whatever our circumstances, however good or bad, we find ourselves wanting and needing the next best thing. Instead of taking a step back and acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. That this is part of our personal growth.
There is nothing wrong with wanting bigger and better.
Years ago, I was stuck in retail. I say stuck because at that time there was nothing I wanted more than a regular nine to five, Monday to Friday job. One where I wouldn’t miss out on my kids lives. Where I could do things like go shopping on weekends and spend time having family days on the beach or whatever it was I thought office workers did on weekends.
In a word, I was miserable. I would have to hear second hand accounts of what my kids said or did and I missed out on family gatherings. While everyone was enjoying Christmas holidays, I had to put up with disgruntled customers who didn’t give two hoots about the fact that I was a human being with feelings too. I remember once when I’d been up all night nursing my sick baby, a customer made a snide comment about me being up all night partying because I “looked like hell”. “If you call being up all night with a sick baby a party, then yes, I had a helluva time. Thanks for noticing.” Poor man didn’t expect that and couldn’t apologize enough.
All that aside, my job wasn’t all that bad. The customers weren’t all bad. In fact some used to bring us treats regularly. I worked with some amazing people whom I have very fond memories of. We shared laughs and often played when no one was watching, socialized together from time to time and we became a family of sorts.
Looking back I realize that some of the most important skills I learnt in life were in that sports store. During my search for what I thought would bring me happiness I dropped the ball and focused on all the negatives that ultimately made me unhappy. I didn’t live in the present moment and failed to acknowledge that I was responsible for my own happiness. The blame was shoved in the general direction of the company and management I worked for, colleagues and the universe for granting opportunities to everyone but me. Not taking responsibility for my life was my MO.
Had I sat down sooner and reflected on everything that was going right in my life I’d have noticed a few life lessons that would bring me on the path I am today. Dealing with people from all walks of life. Creating a rapport with the various types of people. Conflict handling and how to diffuse bad situations. Being aware of my surroundings and assessing risk. These are all the types of lessons you learn from the school of life. How you interpret it is often the deciding factor on being miserable or complacent at least if it’s not happiness you feel. In my books, complacency comes pretty darn close.
In hindsight I realize that although I didn’t feel it at the time, those were some of my happiest times of my life. The best learning curve too. During my search for bigger and better, I was being prepared for my journey. Only I didn’t see it that way until I had my AHA moment and realized that it starts with me. This was also the reason I called my husband one Friday afternoon to discuss our financial situation and handing in my resignation right after I hung up. No prospects to look forward to. I should probably say that finances didn’t really allow for it either but I was determined. Most would say it unwise and they would probably be right. Heck that’s the kind of advice that would readily roll off my tongue should someone unexpectedly ask me for advice. At that time it was the best decision for me. It was about me and my pursuit of happiness. I had dreams.
I was scared but excited. I believed the world was waiting for me and indeed it was. I worked many different jobs since then. Acquired various skills and earned more and more money each time. Life had some blows along the way and while it took some doing to recover from some, others had me going “bring it on”.
In my life I’ve been skinny, a tad overweight, had lots of money to none at all, met pretty interesting people and some downright nasty ones. I’ve had some wonderful jobs with equally wonderful bosses to horrible jobs and terrible bosses. To where I am today. An entrepreneur.
The one thing I have discovered is that happiness does start with you. There’s a switch inside all of us and it’s up to us to flick that switch every single day. You can either be positive or negative.
Coincidentally this was something I learnt from one of my terrible bosses. I’ll always be thankful to him for it.
Your story may resemble mine in some ways or be vastly different. The one thing we do have in common is that we are responsible for our own well-being. It’s a mindset change. The kind that you consciously have to work on. Be intentional about it. Even if it means finding just one thing good about your current situation.
Finding your happy is also about acceptance. Acceptance of the things you cannot change and loving yourself in spite of all the external circumstances. Once you love yourself in spite of the bad hand you’re dealt the choice to make the best of a crappy situation becomes easier.
Losing weight, getting your dream job, finding a husband or divorcing etc is not necessarily going to change you. You will still be the same person you are today. You may be skinnier, have a healthy bank balance, be married or newly single but unless you make small positive changes within yourself, your circumstances may change but your baggage will be right there with you.
If I were to ask you how many things were wrong in your life right now, I’m sure you could easily list ten things without hesitation. What if I were to ask you to mention the same amount of good things in your life right now? Would it still be as easy?
My challenge to you is to find some joy in your everyday life. Don’t try, just do. Right here, right now.
Instead of asking you what will make you happier, I’d like to ask you what are the things that make you happy right now? What can you do about the things that are making you unhappy and what do you intend on doing about it? And lastly, how?
Be intentional about it and find your happy in the now.