It is a rare thing to re-assess you life and with thought and planning kick yourself out of the tracks you've been rolling down and move in a new direction.
Its an amazing thing to do voluntarily,
I suspect most of us who do this do it because of a tragedy,
not because we woke up one morning and decided our lives should be different.
but the plan....!
The plan of how to get from here to there,
(there being happiness)
and to hang out there on a regular basis.
To not just know where it is, but to be able to get there from just about anywhere
It is not a brief exercise, it is an undertaking.
It is most definitely the kind of expedition that needs special equipment,
and a whole heap of preparation.
(and this is the thing that has got in my way more than anything)
I need an Idea of what happiness is for me, and that has taken me a lot of time to work out.
For instance: I am happy now.
What I am doing right now forfills some of my 5 pillars of happiness
I am connecting with people...(1)
I am also working on something which is creative and challenging so that’s number (2)
I am looking after my own welfare - that’s number (3). I sometimes get quite stressed and writing is something that allows me to walk away from a certain amount of baggage and leave it on the page.
I am also doing another one that I haven’t quite decided if its a thing or a twist or a footnote, which is: I am avoiding doing something else.
I started another thing this morning, and sitting down to write this means I'm not doing that. I like to have something to do all the time, but I don’t always want to be driving myself and well, actually doing it. This may or may not turn out to be number (6) but I need to think about it, because having something to do and avoiding doing it sounds slightly terrible. Allowing myself to nothing sounds quite self caring, ( and would be (3)) but It's not strictly true as I'm rarely doing nothing.
I am not doing this outdoors - so I'm not achieving number (4)
Having a restful environment is also failing a little (5) - as the house has rather too much builders rubble to be really restful -
3 out of 5 is not bad at all..I am quite happy.
I thought - that I had lots and lots of little things that made me happy and lots and lots and lots of things that made me miserable, but being a list maker I decide to write all of these out.
By the time I had got to maybe only row 30 I could see that I was repeating elements of the same thing over and over..
Gardening. (4) (5) (2)
Go for a walk. (4)
Go look at the sea (4)
All of these for instance shared a common elements which was quite obviously, doing something outside.
When I rearranged it all into groups I found I had only 5 (perhaps 6) headings once I had my had my 5 things I wrote those down too
Then, with no idea what to do with my list I pottered about my life wondering if I needed to schedule in some "new stuff" that was "happiness stuff."
You know, make more time for happy things, and remove unhappy things....which I had cunningly avoided thinking about at all.
Once these things are in mind though, close to the surface and easy to access due to recent use, I found myself thinking about my levels of happiness at various point in the day. Painting over a splash mark on the wall - thinking am I happy doing this? turns out yes. It had been irritating me as it was stopping my environment being restful, now it was satisfyingly gone.
Chatting to a neighbour as I unloaded my car, a brief connection not an unwanted interruption.
Yet even whilst being mindful of the simple things that were small patches of happiness I was not abundantly joyful and springing about with abandon and glee and sometimes I was not happy at all.
Eventually the unhappy things had to make an appearance
and at this point I wasn’t sure what these were either, but there were definitely a few things that were triggering me into unhappiness and I wasn't sure what they were either.
Only a day later I found myself irritated when I really didn’t expect to be. I was
pottering around on my allotment (4) (5) (2) one of my neighbours came over and ..well started to tell me how lovely his allotment was (1) and how well everything he was growing was doing.
I was puzzled - I was annoyed, not happy. Here I was pottering in the sunshine
doing something challenging
and connecting with.....erm no..hang on..
He was holding court, and had no interest in anything I was saying,
and I was no longer pottering.
I was being a captive audience for someone who had no interest in me at all, we were not in fact connecting. Proximity and connection were not the same.
It was interesting how precise and exact my boundaries were.
I am now looking with some interest at other moments of unhappiness and seeing connections I had not expected. Mostly when I am subsumed in someone else’s need and am not being me I am unhappy. Sometimes it the head voice of disapprobation saying I cant, or I'm not deserving or capable, (when really I am) but I shy away from something, fearing the consequences of being revealed as inadequate, to no-one in particular, as really no one is keeping score but me.
I think many of these situations may be possible to manage differently so that I allow myself to see the triggers and understand what causes my disquiet. Sometimes it may be that a slight tilt of the head, metaphorically, is enough to show a situation in a different perspective, and sometimes I may have to strap on my armour and face down dragons. On the whole though its a journey I'm excited to make and I cant think of a thing I have to loose by making it.