My Happiness Project
I always believed that achieving certain goals would bring me happiness - becoming less chaotic, reaching my desired weight, building a happy family life or a successful company. If I’d put in the work and accomplished my goals I would be OK. But there is always something more to achieve. And you know, life happens too. I became a single mom, the business didn’t bring me much joy once it had become successful and you’ll still find my name in the dictonary when you look up ‘chaotic’.
Along the way, I got tired of always chasing down after my goals. No matter what I did or accomplished, I always found myself just one step away from being happy. So after one of my weekly meltdowns, I sat down and thought to myself: ‘This can’t be it, right? I must be doing something wrong because I’m in the same spot as I was 20 years ago. Ticking off my ‘happiness’ boxes and still feeling I was missing something. Maybe happiness wasn’t what I was looking for. Because after all this juggling to become happy, all I wanted now was to stay in bed or go on a forever vacation.
Change the game
I set aside my Happiness Project and turned to my journal. I asked myself why I wasn't content with my life. I had built a successful business, the kids were doing great. So why did I feel so restless? What was wrong? As I pondered these questions, I started to realize that what I truly craved was some peace of mind - a more realistic version of my earlier fantasies of staying in bed or going on a forever vacation.
Peace of Mind, or as they also call it Inner Peace. I could see why my bed or a vacation seemed so appealing. It would give me a temporarily break of the stress and hectic of everyday life. But eventually I would have to go back to the real world and then I’d be back at the exact same spot frome where I left. So now more escapes.
I was also tired of setting expectations of how life should look like before I deserved happiness. Which, when I realized that was my thinking pattern, was a painful awareness of how I thought about myself. So I had to change game. Rather than setting long-term goals and waiting on the sidelines to see if they would bring the desired outcome, I began incorporating activities that brought me immediate happiness and relief from day-to-day chaos.
Let it go
I started trying new things, being more present in the moment, and learning new skills. I’ve always put so much pressure on myselves to achieve certain milestones. But now as I was letting go of these expectations and started to live life just as it comes, I noticed myself becoming more calm. And I can’t tell you how freeing it is to not constantly have to fight against things that are out of your control. And for me as a major control freak that’s really something!
I do still get fired up every once in a while. I still get impatient in traffic, I still get annoyed when people in front of me walk really slowly. But more and more often I caught myself on these negative thoughts and I reset myself. Slow drivers, slow walkers, rain; whatever it is, I can’t have external factors mess up my inner peace. Plus I also do realise impatience isn’t a very pretty trait and I really don’t have to be so uptight.
My new project
The only long term goal I now set for myself to become happy is owning and nurturing my inner peace. I’m learning to focus on my own thoughts, feelings and behavior. I’m letting go of the things that are not in my control and accepting life as it comes. Inner peace is the key to happiness, and the only person who can truly bring me peace is myself.