Those who know me would think the answer is that I found my happiness when I met my husband and again when I had my baby. They would be right and wrong because they contributed to my happiness but are not the sole reason for my happiness.
On the long road to getting to where I am today, which is happy, I traveled down a lot of different roads each making me unhappy. As a child I was always fearful of being alone. As a pre-teen I felt awkward and unlovable. As a teen I was fearful of failure and never taking risks, I missed out on a lot of opportunities. In college, I was afraid of failure and was so headstrong that I never asked for help from anyone even when I was in dire need of it. At 20 I married the most amazing person I have ever known and I felt happy.
I had bouts of happy feelings and bouts of depressed feelings. I never felt a steady happy. In retrospect, I felt that my husband should make me happy. I was constantly blaming other people for my problems. I was not taking ownership. I constantly wrote in my journal the typical questions one might ask when they’re feeling down. “Why me?” etc and never asked the correct questions as to why I was always feeling like I was not enough.
The more I wrote when I was sad, happy, confused and angry led me to a better understanding of myself. I would write until the negative feelings passed and then later, when i was feeling much better, I would read these journal entries back to myself. I found that by doing this I was able to read it as an outsider. Since I have always been fairly good at giving other people advice I figured that I could write out all my feelings and read it as if I was reading someone else’s journal entry. I would study these and give advice. Throughout the years I found that my biggest fear was the unknown and failure. I also realized that by not doing those things I was fearful of I would always spend my life wondering. I learned to let go of the past and stop blaming other people for my life. There comes a time in everyone’s life where we must stop blaming other people. If you had a rough childhood and you find yourself constantly saying “It’s all I know because that’s how I was raised,” yet you don’t like that aspect of your upbringing then you are admitting that you know the source of the problem. Therefore, by knowing the source of your particular problem you have the power to change your actions.
Another example: Let’s say you have gained 10 pounds. You can’t figure out why you have gained these 10 pounds until you analyze your eating habits and realize you have been eating extra food after dinner. Now, with this knowledge you can continue complaining about those 10 pounds or you can stop eating the extra food after dinner and lose those 10 pounds.
It’s really that simple. Figure out the source. Eliminate the source or let it go and fix the problem.
I also set goals for myself. I started with small goals like vowing to wake up everyday and complete 5 miles. After completing 5 miles was easy, I set a goal to run those same 5 miles. I set goals to become a manager at the property I was a leasing agent at, even though i was only 22 years old. I got that promotion. I found out how to get it. What they were looking for. I also let the district manager know I was interested in being promoted.
I also decided to go back to school. I had dropped out when I was 19 because it was overwhelming me and I was a retail manager at a major company and didn’t think I needed to go to school to make money. I was right. Getting a degree doesn’t automatically equal higher pay. It is a skill you are learning. I discovered that personally I wanted to get my Bachelor. I didn’t do it for anyone else but myself. I wanted to quit many times. I did not allow myself to quit. I learned that although my husband was a great motivator, he was not my number 1 fan. I was, because at the end of the day, the degree would have my name imprinted on it, not his.
By 26, I was running everyday, lifting weights and teaching spin classes. I was envious of the marathon runners. I looked into training for a full marathon (26.2 miles), entered into a marathon, and 3 months later ran my first marathon. That day, after I was home from running and I was soaking in a hot tub, I cried my eyes out. The pride I felt was indescribable. It wasn’t the miles, it wasn’t my time on the race or that fact that I was 1 of only 25 females amongst a race with 300 men, it wasn’t that my first marathon was an advanced course; it was because I had set what I had thought to be an unattainable goal and I had exceeded it.
One year later I graduated with my bachelor degree.
The most important things that lead to my happiest:
1. Taking ownership. Not apologizing for my accomplishments, things I have worked for, my opinions.
2. Letting go and forgiving the past and people who have harmed me. Whether or not you tell them they have been forgiven is irrelevant because forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself not to others. Whether or not they have asked for forgiveness doesn’t matter either. Those who have hurt me most I have never mentioned to them that they have affected me so immensely. Unless I feel I need to hear it from them, I have let go of that naiive hope that they will change. I have accepted that things are as they should be and I can not change anyone. People have to change for themselves.
3. Setting big goals and the small goals that help to achieve that big goal.
4. Living with no regrets. By connecting the dots, even th bad things that have happened to me, to get me to where I am today (happy), I can see why each of those sometimes terrible things had to happen to me.
5. Not listening to the nay-sayers. Who cares what the haters say, the negative people, all that matters in the end is what I think because it’s my life.
6. Being confident. Even when I do not feel confident I fake it until I feel it.
7. Never saying “can’t”, “won’t” and “unworthy” when talking about myself and my abilities.
8. Smiling. Being positive. Acting positive. Being positive. Knowing that a bad day is just that, a bad day. That’s why they made tomorrow afterall. =)
9. Taking” me” time.
10. Exercising and taking care of my health. Nothing feels better than a good run and the accomplished feeling and rush of endorphins I feel after leaving the gym. Nothing.
11. Making other people happy. Being a positive influence on other people around me.
12. Making sure my husband, my baby and all my loved ones know just how loved they are- always, because life is such a gift. I know that now.
I am now 29 years old. I struggle now with everyday life with a toddler. Some days I wonder if I am doing everything I can to make my baby happy, healthy and that he is developing efficiently. I set goals that may seem silly to others, but little goals here and there make me happy. In the end that’s what matters. That I am happy. Because if I feel happy, I will act happy and those around me with catch my contagious infection known as happiness. =)