The Road to Happiness

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ClarityToday I read a quote that has been tracing through my brain for hours. The quote was a beautifully written blurb about dreaming for the sake of dreaming because our dreams will never be more real than any other version of reality as we know it. It spoke of living and breathing in each moment and loving with every fiber of our being so that when our day to leave this world comes calling, we can answer with assurance. Most importantly, we can answer death with no regrets.

Since I completed my graduate degree in Counseling, I feel as though I’ve been sleeping for 3 straight years and I’m only just beginning to awaken. My eyes are slowly opening and I’m at that stage of waking up when realities are still blurring together and I’m disoriented, but I’m steadily gaining my balance. It almost feels as though I’ll soon be on point; maybe even going in the right direction. The right direction for me. Maybe not for what society expects of me.

During my studies, I’ve consumed a lot of research on the Happiness Puzzle, which is comprised of all the facets of life that we feel we need in order to be “happy”. Some of these things typically include: a solid career, friendship, family, a home to call our own, money, and love. These are the trademarks of what we feel a happy life consists of, through society’s frame of reference. So then why are there so many people who are married, have steady jobs, have enough money to be comfortable, have a home, a nice car, and friends who still feel as though there’s something lacking?

Psychology tells us it’s because we’re always striving for something and once we get it, the appeal is lost and we land right back where we started: searching for something to complete us. Something to make us feel whole. Something to make us feel alive.

New Age Philosophy tells us that Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey. I truly do like this notion. In fact, it inspires me. But, at the same time, this journey is much easier in theory than it is in actuality. I’ll be the first one to admit it.

I may not be all-knowing and although I’m always striving to keep learning, there’s always room for growth. There’s always room to thrive. Flourish is the term used in Positive Psychology, which essentially means that a person is living his or her highest potential. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to know what that would feel like. At one point, I wanted it so badly that I missed so many opportunities to grasp it in real life. The scared part of me wonders if I’ll ever have find those opportunities again.

In order to flourish, there is no end goal. There is no destiny. There’s nothing to strive towards. The solution is to simply BE. Be here. Right now. In this moment… And appreciate it. Love the opportunity to appreciate this moment.

But how do we get past all the glitches within the daily grind for long enough to simply be present in a moment? The answer is actually pretty simple when we stand still for long enough to hear it and accept it. The solution stems from finding what truly inspires you in your life and incorporating these things into your daily routine. Even if only for 30 minutes, 5 minutes, or a single solitary moment in time.

This can be difficult for us to do because we’re often held back by feelings of what we think we “should do” or “should want to do” or “what we need to do.” Soon, we have a list full of things that we try to tell ourselves we like to do and when we try to implement them into our daily lives, we feel even worse because we’re living a false reality. We’re identifying with a false version of ourselves. This is when we get lost and live on auto-pilot silently going through the motions.

For example, at the beginning of the new year I started a new Goals workbook and as I was filling out the initial worksheet, I was being asked questions about what I truly love, what type of activities am I truly passionate about, and what makes me feel truly alive? I started answering these questions with every single “should, ought to, must, and will feel….” until I realized that even if all of these goals came true, I’d still be miserable because none of it is what I really want! Once I realized this, I felt so liberated. I just told myself I wanted these things for so long in order to get through graduate school, in order to try to form an established career, in order to validate my very existence. I was searching in all the wrong places and finding closed doors everywhere I went until I was utterly depleted and devastated.

So, I picked my derailed body off the floor, brushed myself off and I made a new list. A real list. A no-nonsense, opposite version of “what if someone else sees this” list of what I know in my bones that I need in order to flourish. And as each day passes and I push through the layers of my former shell, I feel more and more alive.

You may be at the point where you really don’t know what you truly like or love or what you’re really passionate about. My single purpose of writing this post is to get you to at least try to find out what that means for you. Your new goal is to FIND what you’re passionate about. Write down a list of as many things that you can think of that you like or that you think you may like. Maybe you had an interest in something and always wanted to learn more about it. Now is the time to explore, to dig through your own layers and to find what makes your dreams and reality become one.

I’ll end this with the quote that says so much in so few words:

“Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. In 12 years of education the most important lesson I have learned is that what we see as “normal” living is truly a travesty of our potential. In a society so governed by superficiality, appearances, and petty economics, dreams are more real than anything in the “real world”. Refuse normalcy. Beauty is everywhere, love is endless, and joy bleeds from our everyday existence. Embrace it. I love all of you, all my friends, family, and community. I am ceaselessly grateful from the bottom of my heart for everyone. The only thing I can ask of you is to stay free of materialism. Remember that every day contains a universe of potential; exhaust it. Live and love so immensely that when death comes there is nothing left for him to take. Wealth is love, music, sports, learning, family and freedom. Above all, stay gold.” –Dominic Owen Mallory