Can I be honest?
Only 4 months back, I was perpetually miserable. My life was fun, but I was so dissatisfied and constantly unhappy. I thought that’s how I would always be. I had been like that for most of my adult life. I believed and still believe that the perpetual dissatisfaction is what drove me to a successful career, accomplished life, advanced education, and the drive to travel the world. It felt like a personality trait. I always had somewhere to go, somewhere to be, something more to accomplish. And surely, happiness existed at the end of a white sandy beach with a coconut in my hand, so I went out to look for it.
The problem is, of course, that unhappiness is in our mind, and no matter where we go, we will take it with us. I don’t think I ever truly understood this concept or anything else I ever read. I’ve always been into self-help type books, and somehow I had the information and none of the results where it mattered – in my heart, mind and soul (vs. material things).
It was the beginning of a new week. The week prior, my husband and I had spent it hosting family for the holidays. We had nice dinners, went sightseeing, had amazing conversation, made great memories, and then all the family was gone. I remember looking at myself in the mirror in my pure unhappiness and thinking “who the hell are you?”. Something within me knew that this unhappy person in the mirror was not who I was supposed to be, it didn’t feel right, and it didn’t even make sense. But more importantly, at that moment I knew this is not who I wanted to be moving forward. “I am going to be happy”, I decided.
Trust me, I did not know how anything could change. I already knew logically I should be happy, I had a nice job, a nice husband, a house, good friends, etc. and I wasn’t. But still I made the decision. I also immediately thought of things that I used to love to do that I wasn’t doing anymore like reading, writing, and going to the gym.
I know the gym is not at the top of a lot of people’s list as “happiness activities”, but it was for me (and still something I enjoy). For months maybe years, I had told myself I did not have time for it anymore, and I resented my husband when he would go to the gym because I felt like he wasn’t making the same “sacrifices” as I was. I’m laughing writing this right now because it’s so obvious to me how much crap I made up in my head to keep myself miserable at the time. My husband is so supportive. But anyway, I was not “there” at the time (mentally), but this shows you where my mind was at the time. Nothing was right.
I also know I just said I was already “doing stuff” to chase satisfaction (i.e. career/traveling), and did not achieve it. Then, I said I was planning to do more things to be happy. I realize it seems like I’m still doing stuff and not being (as in happy), but the difference is that I chose happiness first and then did the things that I thought made me happy. Before, I was unhappy (being) and doing things that I thought should bring happiness, and of course they did not. It’s seems like a nuance, but it’s the most important thing you can try to understand. You must “BE” before you “DO”. Doingness will never bring you a certain beingness. You are a human being. You must choose who you want to be first (happy/sad/angry). Then, do.
I did not recognize any of this in that moment at all. And if you’re not quite following, I can do a separate post on being vs. doing. In that moment, I didn’t even realize that this was me taking control of my emotions and not being dependent on circumstance to make me happy. I was going to be happy simply because I was tired of being otherwise. I just did not want to be miserable anymore. At the time, all I could think of is, I’m going to be selfish now and do a few things differently to make sure I’m happy now!
Spoiler alert! When you focus on your happiness and choose to ensure you are happy no matter what life brings you, your entire life will change. Not necessarily because your situation will change, but because your perspective will change. And your perspective is everything. You will expect better outcomes, you will assume good intent, and everyone around you will be happier, too. How? Because only when your cup is full, can it overflow unto others.
A quick note to my fellow Latinos: You need to read the paragraph above again. Then, you need to tell your mamma and your grandma. Our culture is so self-sacrificing to a fault. We give when we don’t even have. We do not focus on ourselves enough. It’s noble and we praise it, but look where we are. We are the largest growing population in the USA, we have a growing number of educated Latinas, and the most hard working men. Why are we not running the world? I am asking you to be selfish for once. Take care of yourself, your body, your mind, your needs, and most importantly, your happiness. What do you want, mija/o? Has our culture even allowed you to ask yourself that question? Can you even answer it honestly for yourself? Are you pursuing the desires of your heart?
Sometimes we don’t even know what would make us happy because we haven’t taken the time to go within to listen to the whispers of the soul in order to pursue what would truly make the heart beat faster. I believe each of us is called to something and the way we know we are called is because the desire exists within us. Don’t you think it’s interesting that many of us desire different things? Even from the color of a car to a hairstyle. We each have unique desires. Many of us have been told desire is wrong, but just consider the possibility that a desire may be placed there by a higher intelligence because only you are uniquely capable of bringing it to life.
I will have to share more on this topic since I digressed, but I do believe there’s a connection with happiness and desire. I’ll just say one last thing on happiness: it is a choice, believe it or not, just like all of our emotions. Our reactions, feelings, and emotions about anything is actually the only thing we have control over. We can’t control anything else that happens and we definitely can’t control others. We can only choose to respond how we will. Also I recognize “happy” is used very superficially in our society. And I am obviously not talking about a smile on your face, although I’d love to see that, but I am referring to deep within happiness. If the word is not working for you, try enthusiasm, passion, peace or joy. Whatever you want to be, make the choice, and know that in every moment you are choosing.
What will you choose now?