It seems so simple. Just be. What amazes me is how much I have to work at it! Spending time with family, I watch my nieces and nephews play effortlessly. They easily live in the land of make believe, or simply the land of “make the best,” with their circumstances. Sand at the lake transforms into a moat, or rowing around in a circle in a raft can provide entertainment for days. They find joy and happiness in every day, and I’m fairly certain they don’t wake up and think, I’m choosing to be happy today.
But I do.
I’ve been told for years that I’m too serious. I think all the responsibility I had as a kid and then took on for myself was the identity I gravitated to. And if I wasn’t responsible, I was failing, or a disappointment. That was my story. Responsibility is serious stuff. Over time, any light heartedness I had was replaced by focus on taking care of business. But I’d periodically get comments from friends and family that made me think.
You need to lighten up…
You’re so serious…
You seem angry…
And one that basically comes down to me having RBF (not to offend, but that describes it best!)
I tried to be happy, but it didn’t come naturally. It was misplaced in things like food, order, accomplishment, but those things were just substitutes for true happiness.
So a little over a year ago I started make efforts to be happy. Just saying that seems a little sad, should it really require effort? Anyways, for me, maybe for you, it did. I really didn’t know what made me happy, what brought me joy. I started seeking it, trying on new things trying to figure it out. My word for the year in 2016 was “choose happy.” If I was going to do it, I was going to be responsible about it.
Part of being happy involved letting go of what I perceived as being responsible. My house didn’t need to be spotless every moment. Don’t bring your white glove to my house. Slowing down. Not feeling like I needed to get everything done in a day. Knowing I could just sit, write, paint, read. I found those things made me happy.
And that started to fill me up. It was a process but over time I started to let go of how I thought I should be and started to simply be. And happiness came with it.
The first part in all of this was realizing what I was lacking, and the impact it had on me and relationships with people I cared about. I didn’t want that. I wanted to have deep, fulfilling relationships.
What is that for you? Is there an area in your life where you’re trying to fill a need you have? Where your relationships are falling short because something holds you back. Are you filling that space with substitutes instead of the real thing?
If you are, my challenge to you today is two-fold. Think about that gap, that feeling, or way of being that you want, or that’s missing. How are you filling it today? There are good reasons why you’ve gotten there, you’ve developed ways of being because they worked for you.
But to have a different way? To let go of the substitutes? That’s a choice. Choose today to be…whatever it is for you. Happy. Joyful. Engaged. Worthy.
And take a step in that direction. Let go of any negative reasons that might keep you stuck there and choose one thing, just one thing today that will move you closer to where you want to be. That will move you forward. Your life is waiting for you to step into it. Be brave.