‘Of this be sure: you do not make a happy life, you create it’
Thomas S. Monson
How many times have you thought ‘I’ll be happy when…’. When you find the perfect partner? You have an new job? Lose 10lb? Gain 10lb? How many days have you sat and waited for the things that will make you happy to arrive, slot into place, and then feel satisfied?
I’ll let you in on something: before now I have told myself that when X/Y/Z happens, I will then be happy. And ultimately two things come of this. Either X/Y/Z happens, and it is no longer enough to provide happiness, or X/Y/Z never happens, and so I keep chasing that same thing, waiting to be happy. I can provide you with a real life example: acne.
A few days ago, my skin went nuts. And as, if you read this blog you may know, I do have a disorder similar to an OCD surrounding my skin, this resulted in picking. A lot of picking. And it made me miserable. And I sat on my bed and thought: okay, once these marks are gone, we’ll be fine. We’ll be happy. Everything will be back to normal. All we have to do is be really careful what we eat, drink, and do etc. (despite being told by three doctors that my diet is not screwing with my skin, I still have trouble with believing this sometimes. But you can read me trying to get my head around that here: http://ecstaticallyem.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/if-youre-healthy-then-why-do-you-get.html ). However, gradually the thought dawned on me that the state of my skin could be “not normal” for the foreseeable future. I was meeting friends the next day, and then going up to the Lake District on a university trip on Saturday- did I want to be miserable for those? Wish away the time I did have, just twiddling my thumbs and waiting to get to this ideal which I felt would provide happiness? Not drink coffee/eat certain things for the foreseeable future? If the spots kept coming (and believe me, they do- thanks hormones, for that one), and I kept picking…how long would it be before I allowed myself to be happy again? And so I decided to whack some concealer on, and do the best I could at being happy. Because sometimes you have to create that happiness. And guess what? On both of the occasions mentioned I had a fabulous time. For those moments I forgot all about what had made me miserable.
I’m in no sense saying that deciding to be happy has magically cured my problem- neither will it yours. I still do feel down about my skin, and it still does frustrate me (which probably makes the situation worse). But try this: think about your life as a little clock with an alarm set. Every minute that passes is counting down to that alarm going off, and you can spend those minutes feeling happy, or feeling sad- waiting for something to arrive that could arrive literally just before the alarm goes off. I would rather spend all of those minutes happy, than 80% of them being sad.
So this week, don’t wait for happiness. Try and create it. Try and notice what makes you happy, even on the shit days. You might not succeed every day, I know I don’t, but chances are that overall you days will feel a little brighter. And be safe in the knowledge that I’m typing this whilst drinking a cappuccino, and trying to do the same thing.