21 March, 2014

Happiness Day: Sunshine and Showers


Yesterday was the 2nd ever International Day of Happiness – a day which works to promote the need for society to help its residents maintain happiness and which encourages others to think about how they can prioritise happiness over wealth, the economy and other more superficial endeavours. People across the globe spent the day taking note of the need to TRY to be happy, or at least spread a little happiness onto others.

The initiative began in 2012 and I have to ask, how did it get to then before someone asked "do we need to also be thinking about happiness here”? You would have thought this would have been a priority long ago. Happiness is easily the ultimate destination for all human kind – we are taught it is not a destination but in fact a mood, however we still strive to achieve that mood whenever we can, because why would we want to be anything other than happy?

Why did 2012 suddenly call for such a campaign? It seems to me that the need for a happiness awareness movement was born out of a time when it is harder than ever to just be, let alone be happy. Our lives are overloaded with choice and indecision, and bloody hell we are busy. Maybe it has always been like this, and maybe I am just getting older, but if there is one thing my peers and I manage to always have in common these days, it is the fact we are just so busy we can never quite breathe to enjoy our own lives.

We seem to be reaching some sort of crisis point, a point at which people are finding it harder and harder to be content, because there is no time to be anything other than thinking about the next thing. Happiness is said to be about living in the moment, and when your life is made up of so many moments and islands, how do we live just in one?

I have followed the work of Action for Happiness for a while and believe it is a fantastic cause, but for me we should all be inclined to promote happiness every day, not just on March 20th. I saw so many tweets from people yesterday trying to find happiness in small things for the sake of Happiness Day, and that was lovely, but also I wondered how different the world would be if we all thought more like that more often?

It isn’t always easy...

We all have shit. We all have days when life feels hard. Ironically, in sharp contrast to Happiness Day, I have had an emotionally trying week.

All my life I have experienced unexplained bouts of “depression”. When I was little I used to go to my Mum and tell her I had a “hole in my tummy”, because I just felt empty and life felt hard. These bouts never last long at all, and have never considered myself to be actually depressed – especially as I have always had so much to be thankful for. As I have grown older, I have usually had something to blame and an external trigger for these episodes. Loneliness, being in an awful job, drinking too much, friendships, whatever. Now, I don't think it is any of these things, it is just who I am. There is a theory that depressive feelings effect the strong, people who have it all but feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, and I think there could be something in that. I am reading up on it as we speak!

At the moment I am the “happiest” I have ever been, in that I have everything I could ever need. When you have all this, you don’t expect to wake up feeling empty and teary for no reason, but the past few weeks that has happened every day, and I don’t know why.   Although in my head I am SO happy,  sometimes my mood needs to catch up. I have still put my smile on to the outside world – that’s not me being fake, that’s me making the best of my days despite struggling inside. I put my smile on, I go through the paces, and I've had a few meltdowns behind closed doors...oops. I know I will have a much needed weekend of down time, and will start next week feeling stronger. No doubt I will wonder (like I always do) what all the fuss was about!

I do work to make the best of my days and radiate optimism even when I feel low, because I try to always remember that everyone has their own battles and I know spreading positivity can only do me and those around me good. Even when someone is outwardly ‘happy’, our private lives are complex and our apparent persona doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges. Sunshine usually comes with it's share of showers.

I do think Happiness Day is a great cause, how could something so positive not be? But it isn’t about just recognising it for one day; it’s about doing your best to create a positive environment, day in and day out, even when you don’t feel like it. We all have a responsibility to contribute to the world we live in, and although I do have my moments (!), one thing I am proud of is that I will usually bring a smile to a situation and look for a silver lining. Life will always throw up difficulties and some people face bigger challenges than others, but if we can learn to look for the positives every day, then we can collectively create a more positive world for ourselves and those around us, especially when we feel Blue. People who do the opposite should be ashamed.

Every day I try to remember this and do small things to work towards a happy world. My boyfriend and my family get to deal with the downs (lucky them!) but once they are dealt with I dust myself off and go back out there and find happiness in tiny things and soon enough I feel good again.

Do you contribute positively to your world?


1 comment:

  1. My dear middle daughter, I confess I'm very moved by this post.

    The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, wrote "There are two types of people in the world: those who are desperate, and those who know they are desperate".

    I've always felt it's better to be on the side of the knowing.

    The 'hole' you mention is something we all have, Han. It's not depression, though some people can respond to it in that way. It's not neurosis, though some people can deal with it in odd ways. It's actually what drives us on: to love, to learn, to achieve. But mainly to love. It's the deep, human longing for something 'other', and you're more sensitive to it than most, although in fact everyone has it (they just don't perceive it consciously).

    The challenge is to find the way forward that is increasingly 'you' and that feels right deep inside. The longing you wake up with can guide you, if you let it.

    And you can live with the hole just fine if you understand this crucial point: it's not a bad thing, not a weakness. You don't need fixing, Han. You're simply on course for....your life :)

    (Many people find that an acceptance of their own understanding of 'God' helps manage the hole. The longing becomes yearning for the divine etc. Lots of issues around that of course, and if you ask me 'do you believe in God?' I'll reply by asking you to define God first before I tell you! But seeing the longing as a kind of interface between you and the Unknown can help.)

    Also if you see the hole as being a human thing, rather than just 'your' thing, that too can help. It can guide you to the right choices.

    Being aware of it as you are, puts you in touch with something powerful, Han - all that matters is that you simply accept it's there, and that it's all good.

    Because it is.

    With love, Pop (who has his own 'hole' too, and always will) xxxx


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