Depending on your perspective, it may or may not come as a surprise that we get lots of comments like this one. “I’m SO jealous of your life. That is my dream and if I could only do that, then I’d be happy!”
And while I do know exactly what they mean in a sense, there is a part of me that doesn’t completely agree with the sentiment that if our lives were like we wanted it to be, then we’d be happy. And before you shoot me down, let me assure that I know that’s the truth because we are living that dream and you know what? There are still days that my life doesn’t feel happy.
But the problem is, happiness can never be reduced to a feeling or we’re all screwed. Rather it must be something we have the power to have….if we choose it.
Just a few short months after we’d moved out of our house and into the RV, I had someone sort of pretend to want to know how life on the road was going for us – only to interrupt me as I was trying to answer to say, “Oh it’ll get old soon and you’ll hate it and be unhappy.”
Honestly, I didn’t even have any more words left to say. I was sort of taken back by the blunt, brutality of those words. I mean, what difference did it make if our new simple life was going well right now or not? Regardless, apparently it would get old soon and we would hate it.
I walked away from that conversation without saying another word. Because quite frankly I needed to chew on those words for a while to see if they were true for me or not.
Later on, the conclusion I came to within myself and what I wished I had said was this: “You know what? EVERYTHING in life gets old. Living in the same town gets old. No matter how big it is, the house you live in gets boring and you start feeling the need to paint the walls a different color, buy new furniture or just sell the whole thing and buy a new one. Heck, being married to the same person for 12 years gets old…. if I let it. So does that mean that we are doomed to being miserable and unhappy once the new of something in life has worn off?
I know my share of miserable people. Gee do I ever. And what I know about each of them is that there lives aren’t the problem at all, the problem is found in their perspective and in their attitude towards life. And they either look at everyone else’s life through that same negative or over-glorifying lens.
We claim that we are unhappy because our lives don’t look like we want them to, we have just become the weak, powerless victims of life. When that happens, there is no chance for happiness anywhere.
The truth is, whether or not one lives a happy life has little to do with the circumstances of life, how much money you have in your bank account, what you live in or where you live.
Heck, living in a huge house or an RV can’t make one any more or less happy than they already are.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, insist upon it and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” – Unknown
There are days in which I might find myself beyond aggravated, maybe even tempted to call my life as a whole “unhappy” because the hot water in our RV shower ran out about 5 minutes too soon, leaving me with a head full of soapy hair and hairy legs. There are mornings that I might almost dislocate an arm while attempting to make up our bed in a tiny room with next to no space to move. They are weeks in which it may feel like our lives suck when a tire blows while going down the road, the gas tank runs out right in the middle of cooking dinner or the foot lever on the toilet gets stuck in the down position and floods the bathroom with toilet water and 275 sq. feet of walls threaten to close in on the four of us.
But you know what? Ultimately my immediate circumstance don’t get to determine the happiness (or lack thereof) of my entire life. Why? Because I don’t let them. Besides, stuff or circumstances never made anybody happy in the first place. I know this well because I had the same kind of days that felt “unhappy” when I lived another version of near perfect life smack dab in middle class suburbia, American dream land.
The other day I was just having a blue day and as my husband and I were talking about it he asked me this question, “Do you feel happy with your life right now?” I thought a second before returning my honest answer.
Because I know that even on the rough days when the circumstances of life tell us that our lives are are in some way less someone elses’, we can’t buy into that lie. It’s just not true. All of the happiness of life is ultimately based on one’s perspective of life and what it actually means or takes to make us happy.
And if after reading this and evaluating your happiness level and your own life you find still that you are truly unhappy with your life, maybe consider one of the most life-changing truths I’ve ever discovered:
Changing the circumstances of a life cannot make an unhappy person happy.
Happiness is something we find deep within our hearts because we’ve sought it out, fought for it and protected it from the ravaging pull of the cares of life. And no matter how or where we live, it is up to us to choose to be happy no matter where we found ourselves. To find the good, the noteworthy, the multitude of things that are already right in front of our nose to be happy about!
Happiness isn’t a person, a thing, a place or a way of life. Happiness, is a choice we make that covers over everything in our lives and makes what could be ugly – beautiful.
When we stop playing the victim, hopelessly peering in at other’s lives and wishing, when we have chosen happiness, all of our own lives become miraculous and good.
Here is a small formula to help find your own path back to happiness. Stop the hustle and bustle of life for 10 minutes and evaluate and list out the things that matter most in your life in order of priority and all the things that make you most happy. Not just the feeling of being happy, but deep fulfillment.
For me it is:
- My faith
- My husband
- My children
- My family
- Inspiring others
- New experiences
- & coffee
So this is where I will invest my life. Everything else are just side notes. Happiness is found here.
When I made my list what struck me most when I looked back over it was that where I live, what I live in and material things I possessed didn’t even make the cut.
The truth is, nobody will remember me as the girl who lived in an RV. I hope they will remember as the girl who was always up for a new adventure. Who found deep joy in inspiring others. Who could look at a mountain view, an open lake or her children’s face and see the fingerprints of one greater than herself. Who was in love with life. And whose eyes shined because they saw beauty everywhere.
That I was happy.
What ways have you found to choose happiness in your own life? What things make you truly happy?