I have some bad news, guys.
Having the awesome life that you dream of (quitting work and living on the beach/winning the lottery/buying a fancy car…) will not make you happier.
It might not even make you happy.
I’m sorry to break it to you.
I know some people live with this dream in mind…
Things would be okay if I could just have a few hundred thousand in the bank, quit my job, and go and do what I actually want to do!
I would be so much happier if I could just live how I wanted to, instead of how everyone else wants me to live!
I know how these dreams keep us going. Or rather – from going insane.
But I had a wake-up call recently, which I wanted to share.
My boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment ten months ago.
Our apartment is lovely. Small – but lovely.
We have a view of the ocean and the beach, and the sunsets here are flippin’ fantastic.
Like, some of the most beautiful images of nature I’ve ever seen. I keep taking pictures… I must have hundreds!
The pictures on this post are all taken from the crappy camera on my phone… and they don’t do it justice.
Hang on – I’m not saying this to show off! Honest!
Everything has its pros and cons.
Our apartment is tiny. We can barely fit in the bathroom together. If my boyfriend’s coming out and I’m going in, sometimes we get stuck 🙂
And it would be great to have a spare room to have people to stay, instead of the blow-up mattress on the living room floor.
The windows are old, so when the wind blows, it feels like we’re in a mini hurricane.
My point is that having this “amazing” apartment isn’t making me any happier. Like, I’m happy… but I’m not happier just by being here.
My happiness didn’t go up by X% just because we have a lovely place to live.
And yet, it “looks” like we have the dream apartment – as I’m sure a lot of you have that “dream something” – the “dream” job, the “dream” house, the “dream” car, the “dream” partner…
But they don’t make you 100% happy, right?!
As humans, we have a way of getting used to whatever situation we find ourselves in. (But this is a good thing, because it means we acclimatize to negative stuff and can bounce back from it. Yay.)
So I don’t mean that depressingly!
I just mean that if you think you will be happier when your “dream” comes true, think again.
You will still be you – just in a different situation.
And that situation will bring its own negatives, as well as its positives.
If you’re anxious, you’ll still be anxious.
If you’re sad, you’ll bring that sadness with you.
If you’re a go-getter, you’ll still want to go-get!
My point is that if you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy then.
My belief is that happiness isn’t about having certain things.
Happiness is about increasing the amount of positive things in your day, bit by bit.
Wherever you are.
You’re not convinced?
That’s okay – I wasn’t either 🙂
It wasn’t until I moved into the apartment with the pool and the breathtaking views by the beach, and realized that it hadn’t made me happier.
It was up to me to do that.
Think about it.
For a lot of people, the idea of quitting their job and spending a year on the beach (for example) is their idea of heaven. But think about it in more detail. What are you doing every day on the beach? Who is with you? What is stimulating you? Are you still seeing friends – and if so, how?!
I know some days you might feel overworked, tired, stressed, and stuck.
But you can make positive changes in your life to change that, without believing a year on a beach/a job-free life is the only answer that will help.
Okay, so think how you could get more positives into your life each day.
What do you enjoy doing?
Then put more of it in your day.
What do you not enjoy doing?
Try to reduce these things, as much as you can.
Fill your day, whenever you can, with good things…
A comedy podcast on the way to work… a walk around the block with a friend at lunch… a stop off on the way home to get out in nature for ten minutes… putting on some loud music and dancing around while you’re cooking dinner…
Whatever it is that makes you feel good – get it in there! Tiny increments.
And the crappy stuff… Yes, I know you probably have a ton of things at work that you don’t want to do.
I hear you on that. (Calling schools who hated the organization I worked for, to ask if they wanted to come to one of our events?! Yeah, that wasn’t the most fun job 🙂 )
Let’s leave that for now. There are lots of awesome websites about surviving or changing your current job, so I’ll just focus on outside of work for now.
Sometimes we don’t even know what makes us happy any more!
I read a great – but simple – suggestion on a forum recently. Someone just said: I keep a list of all the things that make me feel good, and all the things that make me feel bad.
And it can be anything – something small and insignificant, or something BIG.
It doesn’t matter.
Just get into the habit of realizing what makes you feel awesome, and what makes you feel crappy.
And writing it down (vs. thinking about it) is much better at making it stick, for some reason.
Plus it’s great to add things to the lists day by day.
Hopefully your feel-good list will be longer than your feel-bad list… and if it’s not, you need to do something about that!
So now act on your lists.
What’s on your list for what makes you feel bad?
How can you reduce these things, get rid of them, improve them, or substitute them?
What’s on your list that makes you feel good?
Hopefully even just looking back over these things will give you a positive glow.
For me, these are the general things that make me happy:
Growing or pushing myself
Hanging out with awesome people (or skyping my friends)
Exercising (afterwards – not always during)
And more that I can’t think of right now 🙂
I also have tiny things that make me happy:
Finding a great blog or an inspiring quote ♦ going to bed early ♦ eating healthy snacks ♦ being in water ♦ a bike ride along the seawall ♦ writing little notes, ideas and thoughts in my notebook ♦ sitting in the sun ♦ a cup of tea in a comfy chair
So I’m trying to include things like these in my day bit by bit.
I have upsets, of course. Some days nothing seems to work out.
But other days, I’m increasing the stuff I love to do, and it feels really good.
So wherever or however you can, make your current life the dream life.
Think about what your “one-day” dreams are telling you.
Want to quit your job?
Why – do you just want more freedom? How can you get this?
Or do you actually hate your job – in which case, what can you do about this?
Are you just looking for a bit more flexibility in your life?
Want to go live on a beach on your own?
Do you need more time out in your life then? How can you get this?
Can you incorporate ten minutes of relaxing into each day?
If this sounds absurd to you, why does it sound absurd?! Do you think you’re not worth ten minutes of down time?!
No one is going to swoop in and change your life for you, I’m afraid.
It has to be you that does that.
And you can!
Little by little.
So let me be your experiment for you 🙂
I’ve moved into the “dream” apartment, and it didn’t make me happier (on its own).
But I’m doing things to make me feel good inside, and I do feel happier 🙂
I really believe in this, so I’ll be writing more again soon on how we can fill our normal lives with the good stuff, rather than wanting/waiting for that “dream” life.
Any thoughts? Disagreements?
Or have you had a similar experience?