Why do we always see happiness as something we’ll have in the future?


It feels as though happiness is something we’re all working towards. Hoping that if we work hard enough at work then a promotion will make us happy, if we could just have one more pay rise then that money would make us happier, if we just lost that niggly half a stone we’d feel so much happier, but why don’t we just accept happiness in the present?

It’s ridiculously easy to not see the moments that make us happiest until they have passed, rather than as we’re living them – but why do we struggle so much with feeling happiness as it happens?

I’ve just got back from a fun little jaunt to Costa. I had a gigantic cappuccino, a little lemon tart and a good book – I wasn’t there to kill time or meet someone, I was there just to be, to have a little relaxing time for myself, and it was absolute bliss, and I appreciated it, and I thought ‘yeah, life is pretty damn bloody good.’

Now that i’m freelance i’ve got a lot more time and energy than I ever had working full-time in London. There’s no commuting (bar the odd trip into London) and I finally have time to just do things for myself – like take coffee trips, read, bake, heck… I even do the ironing now, because I quite like the feeling of completing chores i’ve never previously been able to spare a minute for.

And yes, i’m happier than ever before too.

Maybe it’s because I’ve got time to appreciate when i’m happy, and i’m not so exhausted by tubes and emails and tourists being constantly in my way that I just want to sob all of my emotions onto my face, or maybe it’s because i’ve found the things in life which make me content.

I spent a lot of my teenage years jumping about emotionally. My friends used to joke that I was bipolar because one moment i’d be full of energy and cracking jokes so much people would get painful bellies and the next I would be feeling hollow and burnt out whilst sobbing in my car listening to JoJo.

The thing with being a teenager, or even a thirty-something living with parents, is that you’re not fully in control of your situation – or for that matter, your happiness.

I tried to make people laugh so much and have spontaneous adventures and create fun out of nothing a lot when I was younger to cover up how much unhappiness I had inside that I didn’t feel I had control over – things that were situational, that I couldn’t change. I tried to force my own happiness rather than dwell on the less than ideal situations I had going on at home.

The fact my mum was an alcoholic, and I wasn’t particularly close to my dad or step-mum distressed me, but I still relied on them financially and for a roof over my head because I wasn’t in a place where I could support myself.

It’s only as i’ve got older, and been able to have the freedom to do what makes me feel good inside, and the money to make my own life choices that i’ve finally been able to find my own sort of happiness.

I’ve always believed that unhappy people, the sort of people that moan on Facebook daily about how hard life has been on them, have only themselves to blame – it’s probably the same reason I, very unfairly, never give money to homeless people – because I feel like we all make our own choices in life and always, no matter what, have choices.

Yes, some people are born into more ideal circumstances than others, but the moment you are old enough to make your own decisions and carve your own life, your happiness is entirely in your hands.

I’m happy today because I spend a lot of time questioning how I can mentally make myself a happier person, but also because I have a lot to be happy and thankful for – a successful blog, a journalism career, a wonderful boyfriend, a pretty cat, a loving home and some pretty damn sweet friends and family – but I didn’t get all that by sitting and uploading Facebook statuses about how utterly shit and unfair life is. I got those things because I kept moving forward, I kept working towards improving myself and my life.

A lot of it is about being in control – not having money worries, having a secure job and an even more secure network of people around you for support, but this level of control is something we can all create ourselves.

It’s fine to keep dreaming bigger and aiming for more – I want to have babies and write a book and buy my own home – but I won’t be unhappy because I haven’t got those things yet, because I’m grateful for everything I do have and I am more than aware that something more dreadful than being in my overdraft, or gaining a stone, could happen.

And for when those worse things happen, and they will because such is life, I want to be able to remember how wonderful life can be and how happy I can be, so that I know that even after the dark times yet to come, I will remember what I have already achieved and battled and how happy I have been and can be again. Because if we can’t be happy and grateful every day for the small things like driving and singing to your favourite song or buying fresh flowers or going for coffee alone just because, when can you?

I *might* have just made myself well up because, as lame as it sounds, i’m pretty darn proud of myself and I think we should all appreciate ourselves and our lives just a little bit more – because really, they’re not as bad as all that. Not really.

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