No life is perfect. Life was not created equal. I think happiness is in acceptance. I'm working toward it myself. That's not to say something along the lines of "Well I don't have this, but I have that." I think that's probably veiled pessimism in the form of comparison. "Haves" can be completely depressed. Hugely successful people still commit suicide. "Have-nots" can be blissfully happy, and everything in-between.
What does that say? To me, that says that being happy is about focus. I'm going to tell you what I'm struggling with at the moment, what I'm really working on.
I'm coming from a place right now where my history has been quite sour, and it's affected the way I approach people, but more than that, it's affected the way in which I approach my own perceptions of self, without even thinking about it. Mostly I'm anxious, and although it served very good purpose in my past, I know it doesn't fit with everyday experiences now. And I want to change that. What am I obsessed with? I'm obsessed with change. I want to be secure and happy and you see, that strong need and determination for those things pours perfectly into creating an anxiety that holds me back from that goal. And I'm trying to figure it out......somehow, while being aware that my efforts may be pushing me in the other direction, and trying to keep that awareness while still changing things, because I can't stay the same, but I also need to be mindful that an unnecessarily strong effort and urge to change may lead directly back to where I started.
I want to trust again, and I want a happy long-term relationship, and I want to achieve great things. Pretty much, I want to feel secure and confident again. And that urge to be those things makes me more anxious...and anxiety makes me less trusting, more academically compromised, more down, more ashamed - further away from my goals really.
So what do I need to do? I think I just need to calm down. And I'm trying to be helpful here to others, not just write about myself and my problems, but to write about real change. Back to acceptance for the moment.... how do we define acceptance? I'm going to borrow from Wikipedia here:
"Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. The concept is close in meaning to 'acquiescence', derived from the Latin 'acquiēscere' (to find rest in)."So when we're talking about acceptance, we're not talking about picking a few goals and saying to ourselves that these bad things are also a given. That really is just comparison, and I think at some point we have to sit back and ask if what we are telling ourselves "will make us happy" will actually make us happy.
I think that it's easy to confuse the terms "achievement" and "happiness". I haven't really figured it all out yet, but I think that might have something to do with what makes people that are otherwise pretty healthy and spend a lot of time thinking about being better in some way just really sad. I can't put it all into words just yet, but I'm definitely very interested in the notion and thoughts surrounding it.
What makes me happy in my life has a whole lot more to do with baser things than achievements. What makes me happy is feeling secure. Feeling safe. Seeing smiles. The feeling after a good meal. The feeling of listening to someone talk about something really interesting that I hadn't thought of before, or sharing some experience they had that really made them feel something great. Of closing my eyes on a swing and feeling wind rush past my ears, and knowing I'm not going to hit the ground.
Sure, achievements can make me feel good too. It feels great to get a HD on an exam. It's exhilarating to have desire reciprocated. But those sort of things, things that are concrete goals, they are hugely emotionally risky. There are many more times when failure has moved beyond hurt and into damage. That's not what happiness is about.
I think being happy is about loving. Not being "in love" with a tangible thing; just that feeling of being safe and secure and experiencing good things. I don't have everything I want. I'm 5 years behind my life's "goals". But there are things that I love, and they make me happy. Almost every morning, my little dog makes me smile inside at her antics and her cuddles, and it doesn't matter in that moment that I'm not married right now and all my friends are having kids. The sun shines in and it makes me feel warm and that's a nice feeling. Sometimes it's freezing and I've been working hard all day, and I get in under my doona and that is just amazing. There is beauty in the world that doesn't have anything to do with my "to-do" list.
Be careful to always let yourself be happy, no matter who you think you are right now. Happiness is a fragile thing. It's an easily mistaken thing. I screw it up about 15 times per day. But it's still out there. Don't forget that it's a feeling, not a goal. You don't have to climb to get to it, it's all around you every day.