What do we need to be happy?
Today I woke up and started thinking about the idea of desiring things outside of ourselves to make us happy. Lets face it in our culture we are bombarded by advertising all the time, commercials and ads in and on everything from a newspaper to social media. We constantly see things that are supposed to make us “bigger, better, skinnier, healthier, richer, more fun, dateable, entertained” and so on and so forth.
I was remembering back to when I was in my early 20’s barely making any money but I had a credit card for every major department store I could get my hands on. I wanted the latest clothes, music, colonge, games, electronics, and more. I wanted to have the car, the girlfriend, the job, the house and when I got them I knew, I JUST KNEW, I’d be happy. So what happened…
I either never got THE thing or THE thing turned out to be obsolete. There was always something better. I was constantly chasing everything outside of me to be happy and I kept chasing the next thing when it didn’t. So THE thing turned into multiple THINGS. I ran myself into major debt because I couldn’t seem to find the elusive one thing that would make the happy last. Did I get happy? Sure, for like three days! After the newness wore off, after all my friends had it, after they came out with the THING 2.0 I wasn’t happy any more. Come to think of it none of those things would occur and I still wasn’t happy but I kept searching.
I would hold onto things until the bitter end, like relationships. I plenty of relationships that did not work and I kept at it. They would either start to REALLY not work and just be completely unhealthy or we would become complacent. I can’t tell you how many relationships I had to have to realize that complacent and happy are just not the same. I would even talk myself out of it… relationships need work, we need therapy, we need date night and so on and so forth. I’m not saying those things don't work, they just didn’t work for me, mostly because by the time we thought about trying any of those things it was already too late for it. Or we would cling to it so tightly, not wanting anything to change that we would end up being so overly miserable that we had to walk away or just stay and suffer through it knowing it wasn’t going to change but so scared of the alternatives that we became paralyzed.
Then I started reading/listening to people speak of enlightenment and how this would help you obtain happiness and bliss and so I dove into it. Like every other thing I had ever done I started grabbing as much info as I could and sucking up the information. I found things that resonated so deeply I would cry, something I hadn’t let myself do in years and years. I started feeling things more deeply, I started seeing how the things in my life were simply not making me happy, in fact it was the opposite. I was paying off tons of debt, I was working long hours at a job I didn’t like, I had gotten to the point where I had bought a house that I wasn’t happy with at all and all because I had to have that ONE (or a bazillion) things that would make me happy.
I began to apply the things I was learning. To find where I had attached to certain ideas about who I was and what I thought I needed to be happy. In that time I was laid off from the job I hated, at first glance I was terrified, I had no idea what to do and I had just bought a house! I looked at the family I had, the house we were in, the fact that we would have to work so many more hours and at probably several jobs to afford what we had and it hit me… why? I looked around, was the stuff really that important? Was it more important than us spending time together, us having fun together, us living a life together? Did we need more stuff, did we even need the house? In the end we made the decision to walk away from it, I faced a ton of ridicule and even had someone stop talking to me because she didn’t believe what I was doing was right. I made the decision based on wanting to be happy, wanting to live life and not be controlled by it, to actually enjoy my time and not be so desperately entrenched in work and trying to keep myself afloat that I forgot who I was, who my family was and what happy even vaguely looked like. So we walked away.
I picked up a new job within a few months making barely half of what I had made before but it was something I wanted to do. I had that job for almost a year before I walked away from it too. I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do either, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but it wasn’t throwing myself into something that didn’t make me happy just to be able to have certain things. We lived off of savings for a while, we lived rent free while watching over a loved one that had suffered a stroke… I think the watching over was more for us than him but that is how we saw it at the time. Later we spent a lot of time with my mom, time I never would have had with her had I slaved at those jobs. Time that I thoroughly enjoyed and am glad I got before she died.
There are many things that have happened in the last few years that have seemed hard at the time but the more I let go and trust the happier I have become. The more I stop searching for things outside of myself, the more I turn inside and really focus on how and why I react to things and can decipher them down and let go, the happier I am. I remember one of my ex girlfriends being really annoyed with me that it would take me so long to even figure out how I felt years and years ago, now I’ve gone further, I’ve figured out why I feel those things in order to let them go and not have to feel them as often. All that hatred, pain, anger, sorrow, guilt, shame, fear that I had even though most of the time I didn’t realize I had it. All the years of saying things like “you make me angry,” “you hurt me,” “I feel bad because of” now I know how that was only a tiny baby step into the emotion.
Now I jump in, I used to look for why, now sometimes I don’t even bother, I just feel it and then let it go. There is one HUGE thing that I haven’t quite let go of yet… well maybe more than one but then again they are pretty much the same. Back to that article I read the other day, I have not let go of the fact that I was not born male. I… and here is the other big one… judge myself as not being fully male, not having a penis, not being able to walk around safely and yet… I’m the one that does this to myself. I pass, people have always thought I was male from when I was little up until I changed my IDs, I have always passed and yet I judged myself down to the very last detail. It’s a lot like thinking you are too fat, too skinny, too puny, too muscular, your teeth aren’t white enough, you're not smart enough, you're not social enough whatever. It is something that can’t be changed… or can it? The only thing that holds me back is my own judgment of myself.
If say someone walked up to me and said “You are purple elephant” would I believe them? Would I even need to look at myself in a mirror? Would I question anything about myself? No. So why do I question myself when someone says “you are fat,” “you aren’t male,” “you are stupid.” Why do we allow these things to haunt us, to piss us off, to make us sad/cry. Why do those things get to us? Because they are the things we tell ourselves, they are the things we have wanted to change about ourselves… to be happy. If objects that we buy don’t make us happy, why do we think changing things about ourselves will? Why do we insist on judging ourselves so harshly? Why do we believe we are bad, wrong, unlovable, untouchable?
I had an 8 year relationship with a beautiful woman who believed I was male, that is all she saw and yet I still hid myself from her. I still walked away in the end. I still condemned myself in my head for not being what she needed, what she wanted, what she could love. I did all of that with her standing right in front of my face loving me the whole time and I couldn’t see it. All I saw was the hate, the anger, the pain… the lack of love I had for myself. My weight, intelligence level, bank account, the stuff I own, and what my body looks like has nothing to do with my happiness. How I feel about all those things does. The true source of happiness is not outside of us, it is how we feel on the inside… not about other people, things, money and so on but how we feel about ourselves. Learning to love ourselves, to truly love ourselves down to the core is how we find who and what we are, love itself. Everything else pops up so that we can love it, turn it all to love and find happy within ourselves.
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