“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” - Mahatma Gandhi.
Think about it. Are your inner thoughts, and what you say and do all in alignment? I know I have spent a lot of time pondering on this. First I had to really shine the spotlight on myself and my own thoughts, words and actions. I started noticing how when I tried to meditate I would always have thoughts of lying on a beach, with my body warm under a bright sun and blue sky. Quite often I would actually imagine myself under water skimming above coral reefs with brightly coloured fish darting by.
When I found myself really lighting up in conversations, it would be when I was recounting a trip to the Bahamas when I learned to freedive. The memory of those few days would spark such joy that people listening to my tales would comment on it. My real self was being revealed.
After my trips away, which increasingly felt too short I would return to work to a job I loved but increasingly found to be taking a toll on me. I would feel the joy from my trip just seeping away. My body would start tightening up and that amazing sense of health and wellbeing that many of us only have when we are on holiday, would dissipate. Well, I can hear you say: Welcome to real life! Indeed!
I am sure most of us have been brought up to believe that “real life” is a hard, serious slog, interspersed with occasional short fun-filled holidays. Responsible working folk tend to look down their noses a little at those gypsy souls that wander the earth with just a back pack holding their few belongings, waiting on tables and taking odd jobs to pay for a simple place to sleep. We nod our heads sagely and ask the rhetorical question: “That’s all well and good now, while they are young, but what are they going to do in their old age?” And so it becomes reinforced that we need to slog it out our whole lives, ignoring our true selves, shutting down our dreams and hopes and aspirations - all in the name of preparing for our old age.
It almost seems to be worse the more responsible your job and the longer you spent at university getting your education. How can you possibly just “give it all up” to go and gad about the world or be an artist or something deemed equally frivolous in the eyes of society? But why not?
So if you dream of another life, feel trapped in your job and generally are not happy with the status quo, start really looking at your dreams. Get a notebook and jot down a list of all the things you really enjoy doing or dream of doing. Next to it, write a list of all the things that you are currently doing. You may be shocked by how little overlap there is between the two lists.
If you dream of winning MasterChef one day but find yourself eating takeaways or instant dinners most nights, maybe it is time to take that first step and enrol in a cooking class. Maybe you used to love playing guitar when you were in school and think you’re too old now. Think again, and find a group of musicians in your area or get your own friends together, so you can meet once a week to sing old Beatles songs, just for the fun of it. Really think about what you might enjoy and then find a way to make it happen.
“Happiness is not something ready-made, it comes from your own actions” - the Dalai Lama Xl