I often hear people say that all they want is to be happy. My next question is usually to ask them “what would make you happy?” Perhaps surprisingly, many of us just don’t know the answer.
Happiness is actually a fleeting, momentary emotion, a short burst of euphoria or a quick glimpse of joy. I think that when we say we want to be happy we are really talking about feeling more generally fulfilled, contented, and therefore happy with our lives. To do this, we need to understand what life we want to create for ourselves.
Comparing ourselves to others
Anxiety can often be brought on by making unfavourable comparisons between ourselves and other people. We start to think that others are living ‘better’ lives than us, that we are failing somehow, or that we are simply not ‘good enough’.
This negative self-talk can have a major impact on our self-esteem, causing us to start to imagine that others are seeing us in a negative way, often without any evidence.
One of the things that we can do to stop this cycle is to ensure that we are fully connected with our real selves and our own core values. When we are moving in a direction that feels truly right for us, we can allow ourselves the chance to feel happy and fulfilled, regardless of what others think.
Living an authentic life
The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, coined the term ‘bad faith’ (French: ‘mauvaise foi’) to explain how we can live our lives according to what we think we should be doing, or what we imagine other people, or society expects of us. This can mean that we are living inauthentic lives, or lives that are not really what we would like to be doing. This can lead to anxiety and depression as we disconnect from our true selves.
Only by finding our own way, even if this is different from the expectations of society, family or friends, can we achieve true satisfaction and freedom from those nagging negative thoughts. Counselling can really help with this journey, by helping you to explore how you can become who you really are.
Become who you are
Here are some tips to help you discover the meaning of your own unique life:
• Think about the things you liked to do as a child which you left behind as an adult. Are you a musician at heart? Do you have a creative talent that you have stopped using? Are you interested in the environment, culture, the natural world or spirituality?
• Remember it may not be about your career, you may find that your meaningful activities are outside of your work life – perhaps you place most value on your family life, or on something that is a very important hobby.
• Think ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’. What are those long- cherished ideas or goals that you feel too scared to take a chance on? What are those changes you’d love to make, but you keep staying in your comfort zone.
• Self-Care and Self-Compassion – start treating yourself with kindness and care. You are unique and you are who you are meant to be, start looking after yourself well and you will feel better about yourself in all kinds of areas.
I believe in personal empowerment and I can support you to find your inner resources to move through whatever is troubling you. If you think you could benefit from a chat, then please head here to find out more- or alternatively, get in touch.