How do you live a happy life if you’re an average Joe?
Over the last 12-18 months I’ve been reading a lot of self-development books, done lots of personal growth courses, listened to motivating podcasts, went to an infinite amount of leadership training, joined into webcasts and generally tried to get myself off my butt to change my world and live a life of my dreams.
A common thread throughout these streams of self-help is to follow your passion and live your dreams. Well, what if my dream is to sit on a beach all day and read books. To not have to work ever again. To smoke pot all day in a dreamy haze of wonderment. How do I turn that into a living wage? We are told that all you need is to tap into what you wanted to do when you were a kid. All I can remember really wanting to do was to be a checkout chick at Woolworths and go to the beach!
I guess I’m a little sceptical when it comes to living your dreams. It’s all very well for people who are fortunate enough to have particular skills and personalities and lets face it, the intelligence required to DREAM BIG and follow your passion. What about all the other average folk, just like me! I’ve never particularly excelled in anything in life. Don’t get me wrong, I do pretty well but I don’t excel. I’m not ambitious. I don’t like stress. I don’t particularly like to work hard (although I do and it makes me very grumpy!). I’m pretty insecure at times and frankly going out into the big wide world scares me.
So how do us average folk get to live our dream lives? I’ve watched a few of my fellow dream-seekers become resentful over the last 18 months as they realise that their dream life wasn’t just around the corner or over on the greener grass or at the end of the latest Leadership course. That cheering each other on and telling each other how awesome they are, wasn’t enough to change their world. They’ve become bitter and full of anger and hatred towards those that told them there was another way to live life.
Learning how to live a happy life is bloody hard and at times bloody expensive and it can make you miserable in the process. I’ve seen it happen. Time and again.
So what is the answer? I think there is a different answer for everyone and that is one of the great joys of being human. Throughout all the learnings I’ve made about myself and life over the last 18 months, it’s not what we think is important that is truly important. We make life far more complicated that it needs to be. Do we really need amazing beach houses or Ferrari’s to live a happy life? Do we have to be doing something we love every single day to be fulfilled? Do we need to travel the globe in search of ancient wonders or foreign delicacies? When you’re on your deathbed is that going to be the things you regret?
I’ve watched my 9yr old daughter with amazement as she grows up. She is full of wonder at every little thing. She takes joy in the simple things in life. She shakes off disappointment so easily and moves off to something that makes her happy. Her life is all about joy.
I thought as she got older, that her joy in the little things would fade as dreary adult life started to come into focus. But no, she still continues to love life to its fullest and its all in the tiny details. So I’ve started to copy and learn from her. To learn how to make the small, simple things a priority. To take the time to really listen about her day, to listen as she sings another tuneless song she made up, to go for a walk around the block - holding hands, to work less and spend more time with her. Okay, it’s meant we don’t have the money to buy the extra take-outs or do extra activities but we’ve replaced that with cooking together and going for picnics. That’s what fills my heart with joy. Having the time to really be with my daughter, my husband, my family. Not feeling so tired and burnt out from working my butt off to buy more crap we don’t really need. Feeling blessed at the things and people I already have in my life. That’s what makes my heart glow with joy. With love.
I believe it’s the simple things in life that depend on your level of happiness, or not. Your loved ones surrounding you. Your long term friendships. Your relationship with yourself, the ability to just be happy being yourself and sharing it with the world. To not worry what others think about you – because there will always be people that disagree or disapprove. What we forget is that if you are happy with your choices within yourself – it won’t matter what other people think because your heart will be glowing with HAPPINESS.
We need to do a reset in our brains that rampant consumerism has taken over - the belief that we need to win Lotto, just one Powerball, to live a dream life. That we need the biggest TV, the latest phone, the trendy laptop to be truly happy. Those things are nice to have but not at the expense of joy. What is the point in being surrounded in lots of stuff if you are miserable. Having all these things is not what makes you happy. It’s the little things and taking the time out to enjoy them and recognise them that will bring love into your heart. Its knowing how blessed you are to see and feel and do the simple things whilst others around you continue to work themselves into utter misery. To be surrounded by people you love and who love you back – now that is the most beautiful thing in life.
So I will continue to read self-development books and do personal growth courses but I won’t be DREAMING about big beach houses or travelling first class around the globe to bring me happiness. I will be dreaming about how to find joy in the life I already have, with the people already surrounding me – feeling blessed for the job I already have that pays my bills, buys our clothes and allows us to have a holiday a couple of times a year even if it’s just a simple camping holiday which is my favourite thing to do. To sit under the stars feeling connected with the Universe and surrounded by my favourite people. Doesn’t matter where in the world you do that – as long as you get to do it and make sure you feel blessed to have it!