Tuesday, 4 May 2010
The dangling carrot
Do you know what I've discovered? While all these things may enrich your life, they aren't the keys to happiness.
Let me start from the beginning, when I discovered this idea. I remember thinking while doing my HSC (final year of high school) that once it was over, life would be so much easier. I thought I'd be arriving at the summit of Everest. Then I got to uni and realised that behind my HSC mountain was, in fact, another bigger mountain. As I've gone on in life, I've discovered that life is a series of mountains we climb, often getting bigger each time. It's like there's a dangling carrot, pulling us over the next hurdle.
I found this thought extremely depressing – life was just one hurdle after another. I then realised I had to change my perception. These things weren't hurdles they were just new hills on the walk of life. Instead of solely looking at the top of the next hill, you need to also take in the scenery around you and appreciate the journey. If you don't it's just going to be one hill after another.
There have been studies that have shown that after winning the lottery people will experience a period of increased happiness, but will then return to whatever the level of happiness they were in their life beforehand. I think this can apply to achieving anything in life.
It makes me sad to see people wishing their lives away. Waiting for a moment that will bring them this gift of happiness. The pressure they put upon it is huge and I doubt that once they achieve it they will be any happier long term. I don't believe there is any one thing that will offer true happiness, I believe you have to make it yourself, whatever your situation.
I have people say to me that I'm very lucky to have a nice husband and two lovely children. And I am, but I think I could still be happy if they hadn't come into my life. Being married is hard work, it's not a fairy tale romance which brings happily ever after. Being a mum is VERY hard work. While I love my kids with all my heart, there are plenty of moments where being a parent is plain boring, disgusting and exhausting. So it's not like I woke up one morning and found myself awash in happiness. I have to look beyond the poo, the snot, the vomit. Beyond the nagging, the arguments and the monotony. I'm sure if my life was different I would have to do the same thing.
I think the key is looking at what you've got right now – this very minute – and appreciate it. If you can't do that, then nothing will ever make you happy. We all have our struggles, life can be hard, disappointing and boring. But it can also be miraculous and wonderful. You've just go to look for it. Everyone has things in their life that make it special, don't wish them away.
So instead of focusing on that dangling carrot, take a look around and see the wonder that is already in your life. I'm not saying don't strive for a better life, just enjoy the beauty of the hill you're on now and it will make the next one all the more exquisite.