Strive towards happiness in the New Year

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When I was younger,  I often heard older individuals proclaim that they became wiser as they increased in age.

I used to think the statement was actually something they would say to either hear themselves talk or to validate in advance their perspectives on a specific topic. It actually may have been both.

However, as I grew older myself, I seemed to understand what it truly meant to get wiser with age. Either it was that or I simply liked to hear myself talk or used wisdom as a way to validate my opinions on various topics. Smile.

But seriously, as I matured, I realized that as we get older, we should become wiser because with anything that progresses there should be…well, progress.

So as I have matured over the years, thus becoming a wiser individual, I realize now more than ever, one of the things that matters most is for us to be happy. Happy with ourselves, happy with our situations, and even happy with those frustrating challenges that we all seem to endure from time-to-time.

I know it probably sounds like I should be running around in a floral garden with a flowing dress on and the air blowing in my hair as if I was some sort of modern-day hippie. I’m OK with that because I stand behind what I believe.

At the essence of everything, at our purest state, we all probably want to be happy. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong or selfish about that, though I’m not sure I would have felt the same way when I was a bit younger because I may have taken the term happy for granted, or I may have thought to focus solely on one’s own happiness was selfish. But now I get it…I understand that being happy and content in life is immensely important because it helps to sustain us and increases our quality of life.

The interesting thing about happiness is that no one can really define it for you – it’s a personal emotion that is specific to each individual.

Another interesting thing about happiness is that some of us are really great at “appearing” happy when in actuality, we are quite miserable.

I have a friend who was always bubbly and chipper. By most people’s standards, this woman had it all: a good-looking and hard-working husband, two adorable children, a nice home and a great career. Our circle of friends used to jokingly call her “Picture Perfect” because her life pretty much appeared to have no flaws.

Five years ago, four of my friends and I met up for a weekend of fun. We all lived in different parts of the country, so we were anxious to reconnect and hang out like old times. During our first evening together, we went to a nice restaurant and as soon as we sat down, “Picture Perfect” told us she and her husband had quietly divorced a couple months earlier.

The look of utter shock was clearly evident on all our faces.

“Picture Perfect” said that while she appeared to have it all, she wasn’t happy, nor was she fulfilled. She was grateful for the life she had and she truly loved her husband and kids, but at her core she said she was not happy. She went on to explain that while her husband was a good man, a great husband and a super dad; she wasn’t in love with him…she never truly was. She loved him, but she wasn’t in love with him.

“Picture Perfect” told us nothing in particular led to her divorce, except that she wasn’t happy. However, she said during the short time she had been divorced, she was much happier and she felt free…like she was actually being her authentic self.

There are a couple lessons I learned from my friend’s experience: (1) even when things appear perfect, they may not be, so it’s unfair to place such an emphasis on a particular situation because you may unintentionally cause stress on a person. When my friends and I called her “Picture Perfect,” she may have felt pressure to keep up the front. (2) You must have the courage to do what is best for you – even if it seems illogical to those around you.

With the start of the New Year, I encourage you to simply be happy and do the things that make you happy.

You can email comments to Shannon Williams at shannonw@indyrecorder.com.

http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/news/local/article_8682faa4-73ea-11e3-a26b-0019bb2963f4.html

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