Monday, 23 April 2012

Steps Towards Greater Happiness: Step 1: Learn what you want

 "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existenceAristotle

‘Curiosity killed the cat’ we’ve been told- often avoiding looking at our selves and just carrying on our own sweet way seems easier. Have you ever stopped to question, ‘is this what I really want out of life’?  Most of us cheat ourselves of a happy or more content existence than is possible and then blame others or situations for not pursuing our joy.  How curious are you about what lies beyond your present life; how interested are you in yourself?

We often identify ourselves with labels such as ‘wife’, ‘mother’, ‘executive’ though forget or neglect ourselves as a person and our true essence.  What is it that you enjoy, aspire to be or do in life this year or next- are you happy, I mean really?  These are all quite ‘bigger picture’ questions so don’t allow me to overwhelm you though just pause  for a moment and write down a list of what it is that makes you happy. Don’t analyse or edit, just flow with whatever comes to mind and don’t stop until you run out of ideas.  

Next, tick those that are already included in your life to whatever extent then look at what’s left.  What is it that you’re not doing or putting off?  Is there something on that list you could try this week or at least this month?  If it involves others such as friends then call them up- don’t delay!  If it is an activity you can do alone then book it in your diary as an appointment with yourself. I often suggest this to clients then at least you are making an agreement with yourself to do it. 
Another way of doing this is to look at yourself through the eyes of a four year old child and focus on the person you are and what you like. Rediscovering hidden parts of yourself is the key to creating your ideal life.  Connecting with that four year old child and allowing that fun part to come forward and tell you what makes him or her happy.  

How often do you talk about ‘having’ to do something or that I ‘should’ or ‘must’ do that? How often do you use the word ‘but’ (“I really want to go walking with you, ‘but’ I don’t really have time”?) These are all excuses and ways of sabotaging or compromising yourself and your happiness. Compromise can then become a way of life if we allow it to be. 

Engage that four year old child for a minute and tune more into what has made you happy in the past and what you value.  What has been the peak experiences of your life so far? What was it about each memory that was important or happy to you?  What did you used to enjoy as a child? Sometimes looking that far back can help us rediscover our joy as an adult.  Write another list and compare it to the first one- is there any similarities? Each of our decisions connects with values that are important to you and what steers your life. Be more interested in what matters to you.

Until you know what you want or who you are, you are a bit like a boat without a set course, just drifting around in a vast ocean. We need to be flexible though also have clear aims in life.  Now, before you put yourself off, make that decision to focus your life and make that next step to change. Next week I will be focusing on how to create your ideal life.