I used to think happiness was about achieving landmark moments in life; the good job, the house, the baby, but life has taught me it’s less about the produce of, and more about the ingredients in, our everyday living that holds the key.
It takes a while to get the ingredients for happiness right of course. We have to sample a lot, to discover which ones help us feel nourished, or allergic!
Though I had many great jobs in my twenties in London, all paying well, all offering career progression, all ticking the boxes of ‘success’, while also being in a relationship and progressing towards next stages at a pace, my soul felt troubled, unsettled, and restless. I didn’t know why, but knew that there was a yearning within, something not quite right, something needed.
Ironically, it took a lot of unhappy, ‘unsuccessful’ moments to help me find happiness. Like Cinderella, there was a glass slipper that was going to fit me just right, but it was made up less of the tick boxes of ‘success’ for me, and more from the ingredients needed to overcome adversity.
Illness helped me see that family, love, nature, books, learning, friendship, faith, optimism, kindness, gratitude, writing, being creative and helping others, were the ingredients that nourished my happiness. And any role where I could bring lots of these elements together helped me feel truly at one, the restlessness of my twenties, put to bed.
That doesn’t mean I have cracked happiness… far from it! Sometimes, when life is putting it up to me, I can get the measurements of these vital ingredients wrong, relative to the tsunami of negatives coming at me, and feel sad, angry, upset, or miserable as a result.
And that is real life. Even when we know the ingredients, we are not always able to get the measurements right, or not always able to find the ingredients in the cupboard some days.
But sometimes maybe we need to loose things for a while, in order to seek and enjoy them again. Maybe we have to tire, and forget and fall and get overwhelmed, so that we become focused once more on what brings us happiness, pursue it and enjoy it more when we find it again.
Sometimes perhaps we need to alter a well-tested recipe too. As I have gotten older the nights out of my youth would feel more like torture to me now than make me feel happy. Likewise, the country walks, once boring to that twentysomething me, now seem as vital to my being as the air I breathe.
Our ingredients and recipes for happiness may be very different, from one person to the other, or from one time in life to the other, but it doesn’t matter really, for what surely matters is that we experiment, sample, observe and reflect, so as to learn how to create happiness in our day, REGARDLESS of what the outside world throws at us.
And why is all this so important?
Well, perhaps in being happy, we are the best version of ourselves we can be, which hopefully creates positivity, goodness, and kindness, not just for ourselves, but for others around us deserving and seeking happiness in their day too.
Perhaps being happy really helps us make the world a better place…
As with all recipes they can be good to share, so if any of you would like to share YOUR recipe for happiness with me and other readers, or even some precious ingredients, feel free to do so in the comment boxes of blog or on the social media pages…
… and together maybe we can lead each other to those few extra precious ingredients, to make our happiness dishes taste even better.
© Pauline O’Shea
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