Beverley Merriman

Life through the windscreen and not the rear-view mirror

If you are in pursuit of happiness, you are probably wasting your time. You don’t chase happiness, because you actually do not have to. Happiness is already inside you, and you are simply not in touch with it!

Recently someone asked me if I was happy. My response: “Of course I am — I am ecstatically, blissfully happy and content.” The surprise that my immediate positive and certain answer caused got me thinking. I went about my week quizzing people if they were happy. Just a simple yes or no. Were the majority of the respondents happy? No! What a shocker!

Happiness — that all-important, often elusive state we are constantly searching for. We all know how it goes. If I can just lose some weight … drive the latest SUV … get that promotion … move to an upmarket suburb … be my own boss … then I will be happy.

The fact is: that is not happiness.

So, what then is happiness?

Happiness, to me, is a range of positive emotions ranging from joy and satisfaction to significance and contentment. It is being satisfied with yourself and your circumstances. This doesn’t mean a state of complacency where you don’t strive for more. Instead it is a state where you are accepting of your “current circumstances”. Happiness is self-acceptance.

Happiness is a perception that supports your internal beliefs. Whether you are a pessimist or an optimist, your perception will pick up information and stimuli to prove your beliefs correct. Thus, if you are a pessimist, you are right! And if you are an optimist, you are indeed right! Your perception tells you so.

Happiness is internal — it’s a bubbly feeling that oozes out and leaves a person radiant. It is generally perceived as sparkle and is often seen as the “X-factor” quality in people.

Happiness is not about looking to the outside. It cannot be found in external things. No amount of satisfaction can be gained from more money, a bigger house, a better job. None of those things can make you happy. Yes, material possessions can improve your lifestyle, but they will never fill the void or the emptiness that so often haunts disgruntled and unhappy individuals. Happiness is something you connect with. It is a conscious decision and requires constant commitment. Happiness is a choice. Just as you choose your attitude, you choose to be happy. You choose to create your own happiness. Life is short and it will be time wasted to stay in unhappy circumstances and relationships.

Happiness is about following your joy! Delight is found in simple things; in doing what you love and being what you love. By not following joy, you are killing your spirit.

Most people are unhappy because they cannot accept happiness. In a sense, they fear happiness as they believe it comes with a price or a sacrifice.

Did we forget how to be happy or have we simply just never learned to be happy?

Chronic complaining about irrelevant nonsense does absolutely nothing to enhance your state of happiness. We get caught up in work, bad relationships, our chaotic lifestyles and bad choices. This results in not being in tune with happiness. In fact, do we even realise we are unhappy? I was surprised that many people had to think about the concept first.

We chase dazzling careers, are hell-bent on climbing the corporate ladder, constantly strive to earn more money, buy more material possessions, and aspire to have a “better” life. Is it really the alpha and the omega? What is a better life? In our haste to chase tomorrow, we forget about today. The sad thing is once we reach these goals, we change the goal posts … keeping ourselves in a constant state of dissatisfaction and ultimately, a constant state of unhappiness. Dr Robert Holden describes this has “destination addiction” in his book Happiness Now.

So what is the key to happiness?

  • Let go of the past — look at life through the windscreen and not the rear-view mirror.
  • Vow to be kind to yourself — scrutinise yourself objectively, but do not put yourself down.
  • Expand your awareness — be conscious of the fact that you can be happy now.
  • Examine what really makes you happy — look for happiness in the right places.
  • Stop rushing through life at breakneck speed — take time to reflect on the values of happiness.
  • Give — not money; rather your effort, time and dedication.
  • Live life wide open — life is about the experience.

Why should you be happy?

Your happiness will result in a priceless gift to the people around you — every single person with whom you come into contact will benefit from the positive energy you transmit effortlessly and freely. Therefore you have a duty to be happy.

Although action may not bring happiness, the wise realise that there can also be no happiness without action. The wise also know that, throughout the ages, happiness has always come from contentment with little. Best of all is the fact that happiness is a free option for everyone.