“My goal is to build a life I don’t need a vacation from.” ~Rob Hill Sr.
The other day I had an interesting conversation with a friend, who asked me the question “Who is the happiest person you know?”
Ask yourself this question now. It’s difficult to answer, isn’t it?
There are certainly people around me who seem to be happy, but the happiest person I know? I couldn’t easily come up with an answer.
The conversation with my friend proceeded with him saying, “You seem happy, but it’s so easy for you; you live in Cornwall by the sea, you work for yourself, and you have all the freedom in the world because you’re single.”
It made me smile to think about how people perceive others’ lives. If you ask the next person they might say the absolute opposite: “It must be hard for you living so far away from anything, starting a heart-centered business from scratch with nothing. You must be so lonely being single and doing it all on your own.”
And the truth is, all the above is true. I feel each and every variation of the above on occasions because I’m human! I think and dream just like a regular employed person, I love just like a married person, and feel and breathe just like a city dweller. We are all the same.
But the conversation made me reflect on my own happiness. What does it mean to be happy? I feel the happiest I’ve ever been right now, whether I look at my life with glass-half-full or half-empty eyes. I asked myself why, and the only answer I could think of is, right now I feel authentic.
I wake up each morning and my work feels like a joyful adventure, so I don’t have to drag myself through days, questioning the point of what I’m doing.
Feeling complete deep down for the first time in my life soothes the loneliness of not being in a loving partnership right now, and walking the beach with my dog every morning watching the sunrise, instead of being on a packed London commuter train, makes my heart burst with happiness.
This isn’t a recipe for happiness in any shape or form. These are just my things. My choices leading to the life I am creating for myself, from a place of authenticity.
I have started to understand and accept that my life is up to me—my choices, my creation. The life I am living right now resulted from the choices I made before now, and yet they are no longer important; only the choices I make right now are. Right now I am free from the past but have a choice in creating my future.
So often we look outward and feel trapped by things that aren’t real. For me it was my past, my CV, other peoples’ perceptions, my own fears, and those pesky little shoulds, from myself and others. Or we think that we’re slaves to the choices we made in the past. But the beauty of life is you always have a choice.
I understand that some things in life we literally can’t change—maybe you’re a parent or caregiver or have other responsibilities that limit you—but you still have a choice.
You can choose to resist and focus on the negative, the struggle, or you can choose to see differently, create opportunities for change, and ask for help. No matter what your life looks like right now, you can still create a life you love.
I believe that everyone can dig deep to find out what feels right for them, be honest with themselves and others, and align their life with that place of authenticity.
Perhaps you’re wondering, how an earth do I go about creating an authentic life? Where do I start? Well, this is obviously vastly different for everyone, but my advice would be to just start somewhere, and what better place than where you are right now?
By that, I mean start by looking within.
A simple daily meditation practice has changed my life, and I truly believe it can help anyone.
Meditation, for me, is about carving out a few moments each day to sit quietly, breathe, connect with myself, and recognize my part to play in a bigger whole.
Even if it’s just a few moments after I wake up or before I hop into bed at night, this is time free from distraction, free from the roles and responsibilities I identify myself with, free from the complications in life that I might identify as stress. It’s time for just me, to connect with myself and my truth.
Creating a life you love is really about aligning your life with your own core values—those things that are most important to you personally. Regular meditation will help you discover what those are.
It might also help to think about the activities you loved doing as a child and find some time to do one of those things one day soon. Express yourself and be creative—journal, draw, sing. Join an activity group, take a class, volunteer, be of service. Move your body with exercise or yoga.
The point is to listen to yourself and take action on what you discover. Connect with how you really feel and use that as your guide when making choices so you can create a life you truly love.
If you do this, you may eventually realize, as I did, that it doesn’t matter one teeny, tiny bit who the happiest person you know is; all that matters is that you’re happy with yourself and the life you’re living.
About Joanna Hulin
Joey is owner of Horizon Retreats, a UK-based company offering everyday hardworking people space to slow down and reconnect through Introduction to Meditation classes, events, wellbeing retreats, and her blog.