Are you happy?
A few years ago my answer to this question would have been, ‘Maybe’.
A few months ago, it would have been ‘Not really’.
A few weeks ago, it would have been, ‘I think so. I’m getting there.’
But today, in this moment, I can tell you, ‘I know the secret to happiness’.
And it isn’t in a golden rule book or a mystical cave tucked away in a mountain on the other end of the earth. It’s right where you can find it.
2017 was, for me, a very, very mixed bag. A large part of it was due to health concerns but also due to some upheavals on the personal and emotional front. Towards October I realised that something had to give. This couldn’t go on, this see-saw of emotions from one extreme to another.
Without even planning for it, consciously, I began working on my blog with a sense of purpose. I disconnected myself from social media in terms of socialising and only began to use it to network for business. I signed up for newsletters, many of them on blogging, but lots more on mindfulness, Zen, happiness and forgiveness. I dove back into reading books, offline.
Ever so slowly, the change was visible. Where earlier, I was disgruntled and suffering from a sense of FOMO every time I logged out of social media, I now left with a light heart and a sense of peace. Keeping in touch with 1100 people daily can be exhausting, so I took a break and stepped back.
Taking off the lenses of expectations and putting on the ones of gratitude completely shifted my perspective.
Counter arguments to my own, which would rile me up earlier, now made me pause and think about the other side. I may not agree with them, but I learnt to listen, objectively and respond with empathy. I learnt not to react on instinct, but to respond with patience. I studiously stayed away from outrage on hot button topics (well, most of the time).
Instead of giving advice, which I am wont to do, I shifted to offering suggestions and (this is important) only when asked. That way, I left myself open and approachable but without seeming pushy. At least, I hope so.
As the last few weeks have showed me, this shift has made me understand what is the true meaning of happiness.
If you do any work, anything at all, with the intention of giving yourself joy, you stay happy. It’s come to me that happiness isn’t a static state, but a fluid one.
There are ebbs and flows, naturally. Some days you are ecstatic, other days you are quietly smiling. But you ARE happy.
Being in that state of joy is crucial, because even if you have off days or terrible ones, the mind inevitably switches back to the state you’ve conditioned it to feel. And if you feed it happiness every single day, the soul knows, understands and reciprocates that same sense of joy.