Finding happiness in rough times

after-the-rain-by-stephen-bowler

We can always find something to be unhappy about. It’s not hard. Or clever.

We can always point to circumstances or situations which are sub-optimal (or just downright shitty) and say “that’s why I’m not happy”.

But where does that get us?

How does it help (us or others)?

How does it make things better?

We can, and should, find what is good and amplify it.

We can, and should, find what is bad and mitigate it.

But there is very little value in tethering our happiness even to these noble projects. They’re still external and outside of our complete control.

To be happy, even in the dark times – we should work to improve our character – our own interface with the world.

Can we stay calm when things get hectic?

Can we stay humble and grateful when things go our way?

Can we stay brave when things get scary?

Can we keep moving forward – one step at a time?

Can we keep striving to make things better?

If we work on our character – our reactions and interactions with an imperfect, unfair and indifferent world – then we always have something worthwhile to work on.

Our progress and growth can always be a source of satisfaction and drive since they are within our complete control.

Then we always have a something to be happy about, even when things are rough.

Getting comfortable with being off-balance

Balancing by Pieter van Marion https://www.flickr.com/photos/stmaartenpiloot/
We often struggle against the world which insists on keeping us on our toes. It shifts under our feet without warning, throwing up new circumstances and testing our balance.

We teeter and sway as we try to keep our footing and stay upright. And then, when we achieve that point of balance we breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the moment of comfort.

But the footing shifts again and the moment of comfort is precisely the thing which means we’re caught off guard as the circumstances change.

The problem is that we’re comfortable only we feel the stillness of balance. We’re happy only when we’re experiencing the fleeting, momentary state which can’t be maintained. We tether our comfort to the most fragile, least sustainable and least controllable aspect of our existence.

No wonder our happiness can seem so fleeting.

What if we instead chose to become comfortable with being off-balance? We could choose to know and trust that the circumstances will change, and that by anticipating this change, we’ll be supple and ready to respond to it harmoniously.

Movement and change are ironically the only constants in our life, so by stepping closer to them and embracing the feeling of being slightly off-balance, we stand a greater chance enjoying, not just the 5% moments of stillness and balance, but the rest of the ride as well.