“I just want to be happy”
I imagine every single on of us have said or thought this at some point in our lives and many of us, including me, have been striving for just that – happiness. However, since reading his book “Rules of Life”, I can’t get Richard Templar’s words out of my head. He says that happiness is simply an illusion and if we spend too much time going after it, we will have wasted our time and end up more miserable than before we started.
And really.. he’s right. Think back a few years and try to remember what you said would make you happy? Maybe you thought it would happen after you graduated from university? Maybe after moving away from home? Buying your first car or your first house? Getting a job? Getting yourself in shape?
See, for me it has always been my looks and fitness, because that is what made me feel most invisible in my early teen years. I always did well in school, but I struggled to feel beautiful and lacked any kind of confidence, which not only made it impossible to find a boy that would be attracted to me, but also made finding friends very difficult. At the end of the day, if you don’t believe you are worth their time or worth anything, why would other people think differently? You truly cannot love another person or be loved by another person before you learn to at least accept yourself as you are, if not love yourself unconditionally.
Anyhow, I’ve come a long way and done so many things I thought would make me happy. I’ve lost around 20kg in the last 18 months, I have fallen madly in love, I am working towards building myself a nice future, but… I realise that no matter how much of what I want I get, I always want more. And don’t we all?
I notice that every day I strive for more and I struggle to appreciate what I have right now. Yes, I might have built my confidence up quite significantly recently, but I still wake up every morning and let the number on the scales define me. If I’ve gained even the tiniest bit, I will punish myself the next day or for the next week. And even when my weight is at what once used to be my target, I see things that I would love to change about my body… a lot of things. Don’t get me wrong, I have started to accept and love my body as it is, because it is the result of my hard work, dedication and self-control, and that is something nobody can take away from me, but I just can’t help, but always want more.
Is this why diet industry and life coaching have become multi-billion dollar industries? Is it because as humans we are never going to be happy simply because there just is no such thing, only we don’t know it? Are they exploiting our insecurities and our need to strive for perfection?
And again, ironically enough, I have to agree with this self-help book by Richard Templar – contentment is a high enough goal, because it is achievable. It is okay for me to want to improve on my body, because I accept and am proud of how far I’ve come. I can choose to focus on what I have and appreciate it, and the contentment in itself will motivate me to better myself further.
And I truly believe this – happiness is not real. It is not an emotion, it is not a state of mind, it is not a goal, nor is it attainable. There simply isn’t a way to measure happiness, because the illusion of it is always combined with other feelings and emotions, such as excitement, surprise, love.
From now on, my goal is no longer to be happy, it is to feel content with my life – where it’s at and where it’s going. And I already feel a great sense of comfort in this idea, because it seems so much more realistic and attainable. It doesn’t mean I have given up on myself or my dreams, I just have accepted who I am as a person, where my life is and know that as long as I keep on the path, which I can accept and feel proud of – I will be content with my life, my friendships and my relationship.
“Contentment is a high aim” — couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Templar.