‘Pretty Hurts’ by Beyoncé starts like this: ‘What is your aspiration in life?’ ‘Well, my aspiration in life would be… to be happy.’ Every time I listen to this song when biking around Florence it resonates with me. I have exactly the same aspiration and try to do everything with this thought in mind. The truth is though, that trying to be happy is much uglier than it actually sounds.
This is because happiness isn’t at all about being happy all the time. It isn’t about reaching a fairytale land where everything is sparkly and bright and prince charming is hanging around waiting for you to drop by. It isn’t about living the easy life, never feeling sad again or never having to do anything challenging ever again. It’s fucking hard work – pardon my French.
Happiness is doing what you care about, what you hold most dear, what sets your soul on fire – and consequently letting go of all the things that don’t.
This means that you have to stop doing things that aren’t really helping you in any way. They are usually things that you have gotten used to over time, like smoking for example. It doesn’t really get you anything, or maybe that temporary release of tension, but in the end it causes more bad than good. So why not quit? Because it’s hard to deal with the feeling of wanting to smoke a cigarette and not being able to. It means having to feel an unpleasant feeling, experiencing stress, anxiety – and thinking that only a cigarette can relieve that tension.
Well, here’s the trick. What if you decided to take that feeling as it is, to take it into account when deciding to change something in your life, whether it is quitting smoking, giving up your job or ending your relationship, and accept that that comes with taking decisions that will eventually make you feel better about yourself and about your life, in other words, that will enable you to be happy?
This is a very tricky trick since it’s extremely difficult to decide to hurt yourself for your own greater good. We aren’t really good at that and want the happy quick fix ASAP. And that’s exactly what’s causing us our widespread unhappiness since the quick fix doesn’t last very long. Taking committed action does.
If you make changes that are in line with your values, they’ll last you a lifetime and create a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and more occasions on which you’ll experience happiness. If you get a clear idea of what your values are, whether this is freedom, family or health, you can decide to act on them by defining goals that represent that value.
I’d like to get a little kitten for example. This is because I value companionship, affection and nature. Now this means I’ll have to go out and look for a cat, get organized, spend the money I need to spend, organize cat sitters for when I’m gone, get a vet, and so on. It’s not simply about getting a cute little kitty cat, and that’s that. It means planning, preparing and creating space and money to be able to take care of the cat in the best way possible.
Now, this might seem like a stupid example, but very often we just do things without really thinking about them, not considering the consequences and then feeling bad about them afterwards. If you do things that are in line with your values, if you are willing to take the committed action and realise that it’s not necessarily all going to be a walk in the park and accept that, then change and therefore happiness, is actually possible.
Would you like to get a clear idea of what your values are? Take the value test on the Barrett Values Centre website.
Ready to make some challenges changes, but would you like some guidance along the way? Why not do it together? I’m a certified life coach and I strongly care about making my dreams come true and help yours come true too! Book your first free consultation here.