I live on a tropical island. I have two healthy girls and husband. I enjoy my work. We have income sufficient for what we need. We have people around the world and nearby who we love, and who love us.
Yet I’m still not happy.
I know. I’m sounding like a selfish b**ch.
Yet I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Simply observing clients, friends, social media posts and magazine articles ensures I don’t fall down the rabbit hole of comparisonitis and self-doubt.
Most people, as far as I can tell, are okay at best.
How are you?
Do you remember when you last had someone respond with ‘Awesome!’ or ‘I simply couldn’t be better’.
Are we all just holding it together?
Purely surviving. Not thriving?
This is how it looks for me.
I live in a developing country, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific. It would be jolly difficult to not recognise, on a daily basis, how very blessed we are as expats. Many people live in small shacks with a corrugated iron roof and walls, and a dirt floor. Parts of the walls are jacked up with a piece of timber to create windows. Some have doors, but many just a piece of material hanging from the top of the door frame. A high proportion of the population cook with wood, and cart water from the river. Those who have power and running water are challenged by high costs.
Being aware of this is both a blessing – and a curse.
Feeling grateful for what you have is most certainly a benefit. Many studies have shown that focussing on what you are grateful for retrains your mind to notice the positives and welcome more into your life.
What you focus on grows.
On the flip side, when people around you have so little, it makes you feel guilty for wanting more than you already have.
Even though you having more rarely means less for others.
Especially when the more you are after is happiness.
In fact, more happiness for you means more happiness for everyone around you.
With just one smile, you can make someone’s day. Perhaps even your own.
I share this realisation with you in case you have also been feeling disappointed in yourself for ‘wanting more’ from this life.
It’s okay to seek more. Sure, not at the expense of others. You’ll get further by becoming more you.
It’s okay to stretch yourself with audacious goals. Reach the bar you set, and then raise it again.
And it’s most definitely okay to seek greater happiness.
What to Do If You’re Not Happy
Step 1: Determine WHY you’re not happy
This is not an instant process, even though ideas will spring to mind instantly, such as I hate my job or I want a partner or I need more money.
It takes time – hours, days, weeks, years – to really feel into your inner self, to decipher what makes you tick, what you need to be completely happy.
In my experience, it’s how we wish to feel that we are seeking. Not, for example, the job, the partner, the money, the ………..
What feelings are most important to you?
There are literally hundreds of feelings, and the feelings most important to you are, yes, absolutely unique to you. Danielle La Porte, the queen of core desired feelings, has this wonderful resource to get you started.
Step 2: Determine WHAT need(s) you’re focussing on
1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
Consider which needs you’ve been focussing on.
How do you meet these needs, in your relationships, your work, your lifestyle, your play, your way of eating and so on?
Have you been meeting them in a positive or detrimental way? For example, looking for comfort in a biscuit jar is unlikely to be providing the satisfaction you are seeking.
Or might you feel more fulfilled by giving greater focus to other human needs, such as growth and contribution?
Step 3: Give these feelings and needs the attention they deserve
Journal, meditate or talk with others to clarify how to move your life toward to where you wish it to be.
Make small changes. Imagine a bucket – even small drops will fill it eventually. Similarly, small changes will move you closer to a life full of what is important to you – a happy and fulfilled life.
You can do it. I promise.
Tell me, what small step are you going to take toward greater happiness?
Me, I wish to feel aligned, inspiring and radiant. My very first small step after writing this is to recommit to a 20-minute morning routine of meditation and yoga. I know from prior practise a morning routine moves me closer to feelings of alignment, inspiration and radiance – and in being aware of how fulfilling of the six human needs my day-to-day actions actually are.
I’d love to hear what you’ve resonated with in this post.
Before I leave you, I just wanted to share this. Vanuatu has twice been voted in the New Economics Foundations Happy Planet Index as the Happiest Place on Earth.
It’s not about the house, the car, the job title or the holiday plans.
It’s about certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution.
May you have these in abundance.