Elaine cupped her head in her hands. She realized she had made a mistake. All her life she had wanted to be happy; instead, she realized, she was just living from paycheck to paycheck.
Each time she got paid, she managed to save money, but also spend it on material possessions comprised of the latest fads and tangible instruments to decorate her body. Enough is enough, she thought. I have to do better than just living; I want to build a life for myself.
She thought of all the places she wanted to visit and the concerts she never attended. For some reason, at this point in her life, she knew creating these memories would make her happier than she could ever imagine.
Expectations vs Reality
Elaine is not alone. Unfortunately, all the advertisements encouraging us to buy, buy, buy with images of people smiling send a message. The message is, “If you own this, you can smile too.” That is a lie.
The reality is that if we own all the things we want, we can still end up feeling unhappy and empty.
You’ve heard of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses?” Well, it simply means if the neighbor, Mr. & Mrs. Jones, buy a car, you run out and buy one too. It doesn’t matter if you can afford it. In fact, don’t bother to consider whether or not you need a new car. The expectation we place on ourselves, too often, is that if I have what other people have, I will be happy like other people.
But if we take the time to be realistic, and ask ourselves, “What do I really want out of life?” we may discover the secret to our own happiness; the answer to our own happiness lies in the answer to that question.
Be True to Yourself
There is nothing wrong with pursuing our personal dreams and desires, as long as they are morally and ethically sound. Being true to yourself means responding to your own inner voice or inner child, and granting yourself daily wishes. A ride on a merry-go-round or learning something new are both ways to cultivate happiness while answering the inner call to pursue hidden dreams.
Enjoy Every Moment
Being present in the moment means being aware, appreciative, and accepting. This is how we make a life for ourselves. There are people, and animals, too, showing their love, gratitude, and concern right there in front of us. Are we enjoying them? Are we embracing and cherishing each moment that unfolds – whether that moment is good, bad, or indifferent? If not, chances are we are living our lives on autopilot.
Making a Life
Making a life that is worth enjoying and living is not rooted in tangible things, but in intangible things. The people we meet, know, and love are great assets to our existence. Are we enjoying them as much as we can? Are we spending time creating memories with friends and family members?
Acceptance and Gratitude Lead to Joy
Living in the here and now means doing so with a dose of acceptance. It means we tell the Universe, “I appreciate who I am, what I have and what will come.” This attitude leads to both self-acceptance and gratitude. Then, we can find a place of joy unimaginable.
Having a happy life is not really hard to achieve. There are family and friends close by. There are museums and parks and local events filled with activities to occupy the time of any person. Take a chance, move outside your comfort zone, and live a happy, joyous, carefree life that is built on pleasant memories.
Featured photo credit: Matthew Henry via unsplash.com