I have struggled with being happy for most of my life. I can look back at times of my life where I thought I was happy and realized it was a façade created with alcohol and distractions. I’m not saying I’ve been unhappy through my life, but it’s probably closer to content rather than happy. Until I started uncovering the layers of dust, plaster and glue, I realized I wasn’t really happy – like really happy, like I want. However, if I was to die tomorrow, I would be happy with the life I’ve lead up to that point as I’ve done things and have had wonderful experiences. Yes, I’d have some regrets of my past, but mostly it would be a sadness that it took me to just the last couple of years to really start truly loving myself and working on being happy with the important things in life; that I’ve only just tapped into my calling and for that, I’d have regret for not uncovering it sooner to live a more fulfilling life. But that’s okay as I’m not planning on dying tomorrow!
The fact is, being happy is hard when there’s so much going on. We’re inundated with images and ideas that – intentionally or unintentionally – make our lives feel inadequate – whether it’s how we look, where we live, our jobs, our families, relationships… there’s so much out there that it’s easy to get caught up in wanting more. We get so focused on the wanting what we don’t have that we miss out on what we DO have. We get so caught up in shit that’s going on at work that we’re not grateful that we have a job to pay for the groceries in the fridge, roof over our head, and clothes on our back. My husband and I go on a weekly date which will either consist of a museum, indoor rock climbing, or a movie with lunch or dinner out. We are SO stinking lucky, why is it that we aren’t happier?
I think it’s because we’re taught to look for extraordinary moments and events that the mundane is often ignored. But you know what? That’s not even happiness! Relishing in the events and moments that happen to you is your ego. When I competed in bodybuilding and figure, I was proud that I did it – but those moments don’t last and I wasn’t even happy about things like my body – which is completely ludicrous! There was pride in achieving it, but it was short lived and fleeting. I worked so hard for, literally, 15 minutes on stage. And as soon as it was over, I was left feeling empty and lost, hating my body as I started eating normally and not working out as I had been. Hell, after the second bodybuilding competition I had a complete meltdown because my trainer wasn’t happy with my ranking – I was elated but his attitude of my poor placement destroyed that happiness and reinforced that I wasn’t worthy of what I had received.
Happiness cannot be sustained by external factors. It’s impossible. And that’s where social media can be dangerous and addictive – when people post photos that are “Instagram worthy”, seeking approval and verification that they’re living a worthy life – either by looking or living a certain way… authentic or not. In fact, most IG pages are likely inauthentic showing how amazing their lives are… but you don’t know how they’re struggling when the camera isn’t pointed in their direction. You don’t know if they’re struggling with mental health issues, domestic violence, financial troubles, or eating disorders. There’s been plenty of people that I start following that I often unfollow after a few months because I don’t like the message they’re putting out there. Admittedly, most of those women I follow as body goals, but all it shows me is that I need to sexualize my content to get followers and likes. The one woman I recently unfollowed, yeah had an amazing body, but the way she displayed it had a large number of really nasty offensive comments. I don’t need that! And it’s certainly not the message I want to put out there. If someone finds my photos sexual or sexy, it’s their perception of the image and not the intent of the image. Blatant sexuality is not my thing anymore – and that’s with still doing nude modeling!
Anyhow, I did digress a little… HAPPINESS! Such an elusive thing!
The thing that sparked this blog post was, well… today! I’m in an amazing mood! I don’t get these moods that often… which is unfortunate. The thing is, I can’t pin-point what sequence of events caused this amazing mood! I had a shitty sleep – or I should say, I had shitty dreams. It is Friday which makes things nicer, and because it’s Friday, we can wear civilian clothes (I’m sure I mentioned I’m military, so I’m in uniform all week) so I’m in an outfit that I love, I’m wearing makeup and heels and I love how I look!
One thing I have noticed with myself over the years is that I can tell the level of my mental health by how well I’m taking care of myself. One time I was in a deep, dark hole and I was walking down the street and I caught my reflection in a window as I walked by; I didn’t recognize myself. All I saw was this poor, hurting, shell of a person. I think that was the first time I recognized this habit of appearance and mental health. So now, if I notice that I’m slipping, I’ll do something nice for myself – something like having a luxurious bath, shaving my legs, doing my hair. I don’t often go shopping as I’m not usually in a positive mindset and it would likely backfire – if I do buy myself something, it would likely be crystals or a piece of jewelry.
However, this is also an external “thing” and can’t be sustained – happiness comes from the inside. For most people, though, dealing with internal turmoil can be hard… sometimes it outright sucks! And sometimes it’s easier to use an external force as a catalyst to creating a positive internal force. And this is why self-care is so, SO important! Taking that time to take care of yourself will help refuel the battery.
One of the best examples of happiness is with dogs. Dogs know how to be happy and do you know why? Because they live in the moment. They are SO HAPPY all the time! Their person is awake? Happy! Going for a drive? Happy!! Outside to play ball? Happy!!! Going for a walk? Happy? Did someone say treats? OMG, so HAPPY!!! Dogs are just so happy to do whatever it is they are doing in that moment! And yet, they have plenty of lazy time, curled up or on their back, belly up, snoozing. Wouldn’t that be an awesome way to live life? Excited for each and every moment?
Granted, I’d probably slap myself if I was that excited all of the time, but it’s a good lesson to live in the moment; to be present.
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present”
Happiness has to come from within… and part of that is being present in your life. If you think anything external will make you happy, that’s your ego talking and it is lying to you.