Hate to keep going back to it, but since coming back from our roadtrip, I’ve been feeling a bit up and down – I tell Anthony I’m suffering PTTD (post traumatic trip disorder). There’s a couple of concrete things which are bothering me and I’m seeking professional help in one of them and that’s a work in progress. Blah.
I like to read articles and research undertaken on what makes us happier, if only just to remind myself. Happiness is a word which doesn’t quite do it for me because when I envisage happiness I think of a bubbly extrovert of which I’ll never be. My definition of happiness is having a sense that everything is okay in your world (which it’s not really at the moment); you’re living aligned to your values (my top two are freedom and harmony) and there’s plenty of chocolate to go around. I’m not kidding about the last one. For some people it’d be wine.
I came across an article this morning titled “Six things science tells us about happiness”. I liked this because it was scientific. I’m big on proven, researched facts, rather than, you know, clairvoyants! While I was reading it, I connected it to my own life as it is at the moment. Here goes:
- Money ≠ happiness. This is the most interesting one of all – money does not necessarily equal happiness. Hmmm. Compared to some, we’re not high income earners. We can’t afford many of the material things that others have. But, in no particular order, this is what is important to us, aside from the health and happiness of our kids: chocolate (me), beer (him), sex (him again), getting away in the Jayco Swan (freedom!), eating, exercise, having the occasional night out and paying the mortgage and bills. Oh, and Foxtel, because we love sport. I’ve actually figured out that, for us, not much else is required. It really isn’t. However, this is still very much a work in progress. It’s hard sometimes watching people around you with the bigger houses, the flashier cars and more disposable income but that’s not my definition of happiness and success so I just give myself a virtual slap around the ears. A lot.
- Trust is a must. The article talks about trust in the workplace and neighbours/police, etc. While I don’t have a traditional workplace, the most exceptional Kate James is someone I trust implicitly. I can be myself – whether it good or bad – and I also know I have her trust in return. This not only makes the client/VA relationship extremely easy, I will always go the extra mile for her. And, despite what he may think, I trust Anthony with everything in my heart and soul – you know that really deep down trust, the one that counts. That one. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t shit me at times but that’s nothing to do with trust.
- Longing to belong. So true. If I break it down, I have three groups of close friends. When I catch up with them, I feel enlivened and ready to tackle the world. Sounds twee, but I really do. There are those friends I’ve known FOREVER and who I can totally and utterly be my rudest, burpiest, slothiest self. And there are more recent friends who I sincerely love and wouldn’t be without (hello 8ers and “kinder” mums) and I’m going to hang onto them like I would if I was falling off a cliff. The Hall’s as well, I just love them. Even if they’re LOUD.
- Generosity pays off. I can vouch for this. My volunteer work at PANDA is very special and close to my heart. I’m about to start some new training to be able to visit mums in their homes in my area, rather than trekking to North Fitzroy to do volunteer phone counselling. Very exciting.
- Freedom brings happiness. Oh boy. I can’t stress enough how important this is for me and the one which resonates the most. Having young babies doesn’t fit with freedom and I found the first few years difficult – oh so difficult, but now that the boys are older and at school and with the support of Anthony, I am free to pursue most of the things I’ve wanted to: volunteering, running, walking once a week with Niki. And back to that trip – well let’s just say the lack of routine and structure suited me (and Mitch) just fine. What I’d really love right now is a week off on my own. Better not push it though!
- Reach out. This is a little bit of 2, 3 and 4 above.
So there you have it. I think happiness is not something you attain and then stop. It’s about what feels right for you and also being attuned to what feels right for your partner/children/whoever, so they have the freedom to live their lives aligned with their values. Years ago, when Mitch was one, my enlightened friend Jenny opened up my world to values and it made so much sense. The trick is to know exactly what your values are and I wonder how many people do – as in REALLY do…