Finding Lasting Happiness - By Guest Blogger Jo-anne Woods
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
What is happiness?
We strive our entire lives to be happy, unfortunately, we seek happiness from outside. We tell ourselves we will be happy when we find that perfect job; when we get a new car; when we find someone to love us; when we buy a house; when we have lots of money. We spend our lives trying to accomplish these goals so that we will finally be happy. Unfortunately, we never seem to reach happiness.
The job turns out to not be as fulfilling as we thought; the car doesn’t quite perform the way we thought it would; our partner just doesn’t seem to understand us or is unable to meet our needs; the house isn’t quite what we wanted, and we never seem to have enough money.
We are filled with disappointment and begin feeling that we are a failure and that we will never achieve true happiness. That way of thinking is placing expectations of people and things that are out of our control and then we get disappointed when these don’t make us feel happy.
If we are lucky, we soon realize that happiness doesn’t come from people or things – happiness comes from within.
We have the power to make ourselves happy. Once we realize this, we stop looking for others or things to make us happy. The first thing we need to do is to learn to love ourselves, by realizing we are worthy. Some of us need to alter the negative messages that we have been repeating over the years. We need to learn to value ourselves and realize that we are worthy of being happy.
This is a hard lesson I’ve learned over the years. I remember several years ago a friend telling me that she went to a movie by herself. I was shocked and amazed. I remember thinking I could never do that. Then one day I was experiencing a huge amount of stress and I just decided I would go to a matinee. I was so nervous as I went into the empty theater. I felt like I had an arrow pointing at me identifying me as a loser because I was at the movies by myself. The reality was nothing happened. I enjoyed the movie and left the theater thinking “that was easy.” I often go to movies by myself, in fact, I quite enjoy going alone. If there’s a movie I want to see I never wait for anyone I just go and see it, instant gratification.
That empowered me and I started doing more and more things by myself. I love going out for breakfast and so I started doing that on Sundays a number of years ago. Now it has become my Saturday ritual, I bring my Kindle and I enjoy a nice breakfast and I have some quality reading time. I go to the same place every Saturday and the waitresses treat me like a friend and I get the most amazing service. Never once have I felt awkward and once again, I enjoy my alone time.
My next adventure was going to a concert by myself. I’ve gone to so many concerts by myself and I soon realized a lot of people go by themselves. I’ve gone to live theater by myself. The more I’ve done the more I gain confidence and realize that while it’s nice to attend with others, I was going to listen to the music and I didn’t need to be with anyone for that to happen. My next adventure was traveling to England for 2 weeks on my own. It was an amazing experience. I found it liberating to travel and make the plans that I wanted to make and see what I wanted to see.
As I gained more confidence in my ability to attend events on my own it was time to do more self-work and rewire the messages that were locked into my psyche that were destructive and limiting. I realized that even though some of the messages I had on repeat play were not of my creation so I could learn to change the message. It is a process of learning where the messages originated; realizing they are not permanent and that I had to power to change them.
This sounds easy, but it’s not, it takes a lot of work and reaching deep down to places we’ve kept secret and hidden for so long. I was lucky that I was surrounded by amazing friends who have supported me through this journey. I’m learning that it’s not selfish to put my needs first. It’s okay to say “no” and if others can’t appreciate my boundaries it’s their issue, not mine.
I have been happier in the past year than I have been my entire life. I’m challenging myself and have been amazed that when I speak of my new ideas, I expected to hear negative comments; however, I’ve received encouragement and support from everyone.
Learning to create happiness from within is the only true way to find happiness. Don’t get me wrong having a little more money would be great, but it’s not a requirement for me to be happy. It would be the sprinkles on my ice cream, but I can still enjoy the ice cream without them.