Here is my contribution to the Happiness Project
Please keep in mind while you read this post that I believe that my own experiences are mine alone, everyone is different, everyone finds happiness in different forms and different ways. I am not presuming to advise anyone. As Algernon Black said.
“Why not let people differ about their answers to the great mysteries of the Universe? Let each seek one’s own way to the highest, to one’s own sense of supreme loyalty in life, one’s ideal of life. Let each philosophy, each world-view bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.“
How do you define happiness?
- Possessing a positive attitude to life and being content with life and who I am.
- Gaining satisfaction in helping others,
- Following achievable, realistic goals
- Continuing to grow and learn without being dissatisfied with where I am today
- Being balanced in mood without any major highs or lows,
- Living up to my own expectations of myself not what I think I should do or be.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
Age 1-5/now = 9/9 Age 5+/now 4/9 The missing “1” is because I have not experienced all there is to experience in life and never will – life is too short, some things I do not want to do and others are not possible.
What do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? (and how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day)
When I am happy I do not stop to think about it.When I do I realize that the feelings of happiness are nearly always there – these days.
What brings me happiness –
- The happiness and good spirits of those close to me – bad mood of others can turn my own maybe too easily.
- Spending quality time with my family doing things they and I enjoy. As kids get older I find that harder to do and quality time often just means sitting in front of the box watching same show together.
- Helping others in some way – sounds trite but it is true. If I am honest I help only in ways I choose but then my heart is in it.
- A quiet passion for what I am doing – quiet because I hate the feelings of being overexcited.
- Solitude, not being disturbed in train of thought. I probably need more solitude than most.
- Achieving what I set out to do in a day.
- Doing activities I enjoy – web designing, blogging, being creative in thought and actions, watching favorite DVDs, online communication with friends, occasionally spending time with friends in real life.
What things take away from your happiness? What can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
- Any hard to solve problems my children or partner or extended family have. Pondering on what will happen to my disabled son in the future. Pondering on what will happen to my disabled son in the future. (repeated for emphasis!) negativity, self criticism , feelings of selfishness, thinking about myself too much. Lessening their impact – work on solutions and don’t dwell on problems, take action, counter negativity with the positive, think of others more, humor, sing “Always look on the bright side of life” Minor irritations such as windows not letting me save images. Solution – tell my partner I am pissed off just after writing a post on happiness and falling into fits of laughter.
- Not taking my “happy pills”, not having enough sleep, repetitive chores (ironing in particular). being disorganized, not focused and being behind with too many things. Solutions – Just Do It or in the case of ironing don’t do and buy clothes that do not crease – avoidance has its place.
What do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
I am not seeking more happiness, do not know if more even exists, but I do want to continue to grow and improve.:
- Continue learning
- Try to be more selfless
- Helping others more.
- Succeeding in my goals.
- Learn to be more organized and focused.
- Work on the best solutions for my disabled son’s future.
- Travel more overseas
- A ‘sea change’ – moving out of the city.
When I started this post I had no intention of adding my own thoughts but just answering the project questions. When I came to think more on the topic I realized that because of my own experiences maybe I am qualified to talk more of happiness (and the opposite) from my own perspective . Having suffered from anxiety and depression, mainly a result of being a carrier of Fragile X Syndrome, for more years than I care to remember, I cried out for solutions to feelings of happiness. I am very very fortunate to have found them, although the quest took a great deal of soul searching, hard work and admitting I could not achieve it all by myself. By not starting on the quest early enough the problems in my life just compounded.
What I have learned.
- I have learned that happiness is achievable.
- I should not have expected happiness to come to me, I had to go out and find it.
- Happiness did not take the form I imagined it would.
- What I wanted and what I needed were often not the same.
- I had to let go of self and stubbornness and allow others to guide me, cajole me and, at times, even make me pick myself out of my dark places.
- I left it far too long before I took action.
- I learned eventually to look in the right directions and not let the failures of others deter me.
- Some people are happy in their misery, I had to stop letting their examples convince me that I could not succeed.
- I had to want to be happy and not find benefits in not being so.
- I found that happiness was staring me squarely in the face and I did not need to make any major lifestyle changes. I had to change my attitude.
- I learned that tomorrow always has the potential to be a better day. Yesterday has gone, I don’t waste time on regrets and “what ifs”. Today is the present – savor the gift.
- I can always improve myself further and continue learning all my life. This thought is exciting
- I am an individual with my own unique personality and genetic make up. I do not need to compare myself to anyone else unfavorably and I do not need to focus on my weaknesses but enhance my strengths.
- I am not perfect by any means but no-one is. I accept that I have limitations and can live with and within them and still be happy.
- Clinical depression does exist and you cannot always just think your way out of it.
- To get a range of specialist medical help, do not rely on a GP alone.
- If medication is prescribed by a specialist take it and not be stubborn and bloody minded.
- If a medication does not work try and try again until you find one that does. When I found the right one after months of trial and error the result was magical.
- My magical results were just a starting point which gave me the ability to start work on other areas.
- To work as hard as I could to defeat the ‘black dog’, be determined and use every resource available to me.
- Exercise – however much my mind told me not to. Even a daily short walk was of help.
- Adversity can indeed make us stronger.
- To lean on others but to fight hard to stand up by myself.
- Embarrassment, shame and self blame should have no place in my thinking.
- By being open about my own experiences and successes I hope to encourage others to do the same, to show others they are not alone and that there is a way out.
I dedicate this post to Bryn, David, my kids and my sister who never stopped having faith in me, saw positive traits in me, when I was blind to them, and helped me in countless ways. Sometimes thank you just cannot express nearly enough but thank you from the bottom of my heart.