Happiness: the state of being happy
Happy: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
Contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction
Years ago, I was faking it. I was living in a world where I was always seeking greener grass. I was struggling to find happiness but no matter how hard I looked for it, it was not to be found. I was fighting an inner battle I believed I would never win. I wasn’t content or satisfied with anything or anyone. Inside, I was in constant turmoil. I remember screaming at my kids for no good reason. (And, yes, as parents sometimes we can justify screaming!) My ex and I were always fighting, arguing or disagreeing about one thing or another. I was extremely jealous of our friends who appeared to have great relationships and whose kids seemed to be ‘perfect.’ I was even jealous of my own siblings relationships with their spouses. As for my career, every time I changed jobs, I had a ton of excuses justifying why the next one would be better. And, all because my perceptions of what I thought my life should be were clouding my eyes, my soul and my spirit. I realize now, I relied on those ‘outer’ things and people to make me happy and content in life. Even so, happiness and contentment were not to be found.
So, what happened?
Well, the one thing I knew, deep in my heart, that I desperately needed to survive, was one I put off for years due to fear. It began to sprout around the last 10 years or so of my marriage. Every month, I thought about what life would be like if I was living on my own. I even read a book about a woman who moved out of her home to do just that. She left behind not only her husband but also her children. I knew I couldn’t leave my kids behind, but my husband, well maybe. And as time progressed, the itch became so irritating, I was thinking about leaving several times a month. Finally, a few months before our 27th wedding anniversary, out of anger towards some things I found out, I asked my husband to pack his shit and leave. Within 24 hours, he called to say he was going to seek therapy. My response? I told him I was researching lawyers so I could file for divorce. I was finally on my way to scratching my itch. I am not advocating divorce for anyone. Not only was the process challenging, hard and a temporary heart wreaker but so was the recovery period. However, looking back I knew it was a decision I needed to make. Otherwise, I would not be where I am today.
Which brings us to the current stage of things. Tomorrow, is not only my birthday, my 53rd to be exact, but it is also the 3rd year celebration of my being single. (And yes, my kids still reside with me.) But the question you may be asking is “Are you happy?”
It took me a while, about 2 1/2 years in fact, before I started to live out loud and embrace the me that was slowly emerging. About a year ago, I had a revelation where I realized not only how happy and contented I was but also how peaceful my life had become.
My brother, whose marriage I envied, divorced a few years back, proving what one sees on the outside isn’t always the truth of what is going in on the inside. Since his separation he has jumped from one relationship to another. The one he is currently in has become more serious, to the point where a year or so ago, they decided to rent a house together. (About a month ago, they got engaged.) One night the entire family got invited over for dinner. My mom had told me about their home. It sounded like quite a house!! When I arrived, my brother immediately greeted me with a hug, then asked if I would like a tour. Without hesitation, I replied with an enthusiastic ‘YES!’ Only after leaving that day, did I become aware how happy I was for him. But I also realized how happy I was for myself. That day, not only did the green monster of envy not appear, but I never compared what he had with what I had nor did I question why. I just knew I had reached a pinnacle where I never again would wish for the neighbor’s green grass. My grass was mostly green, with a few weeds, but I was faithful in tending it and that is all that mattered.
I will say, I am human and sometimes the green monster does peek around the corner of my spirit. However, I have the choice to love her unconditionally in order to tame her wild fire or let her rage and spew her jealously. Taming her is not always easy, but I much prefer it to being vomited on.
In gaining happiness, we all have choices. But the most important one? To realize, no one or no thing will make you happy. Not even whatever your neighbor uses on their lawn. The only thing that will bring you happiness, contentment and peace is you. Yes, you…as yourself with no apologies…just you.
Seems easy enough right? Well, not always. After all, we are human which means we are imperfect. Yet, it is our imperfections that makes us uniquely us. In reaching the state of inner happiness, we need to embrace every bit of who we are, regardless of what we’ve been told we should be or what we act like in order to be accepted or what we fear others will think of us. None of that matters. Believe me, I know. Being truly happy begins when we unconditionally love our true authentic selves. It continues when we grow into our true authentic selves. It blossoms when we live our true authentic selves out loud for all the world to see without shame, without excuses, and without apologies. Only then, will the door to your heart burst wide open to welcome happiness in. Only then, will your life change. And, not only will happiness live in the home of your heart, but contentment and peace will follow.