…whatever we want it to be.
As spurious as that statement is it varies so much from person to person that it is impossible to really define one all-encompassing definition of happiness other than it is ‘the state of being happy’ (thank you Google). But what causes happiness and how do we find it?
I found happiness recently whilst on holiday when I got to kiss a giraffe (ok technically she kissed me) and see a zebra crossing a road (how we laughed), get to be closer to wild lions than I ever thought possible and see baby orphaned elephants that made my heart melt whilst spending a truly awesome week with some wonderful friends. I was much less happy about the mosquito bites that looked like I had some horrible disease (and hurt like hell) and the dodgy stomach on the last day…but still.
This short term happiness is great and provides amazingly fond memories that I will certainly never forget but what people long for is the more elusive long term happiness. We aren’t just talking contentedness we are talking bonafide happiness. Sadly some never find what they would perceive as happiness and for some it takes a very long time to get there.
I recently watched a film called ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ which is based on a book of the same name by Francois Lelord. Whilst I didn’t know it at the time it seems ‘Hector’, an unassuming psychologist in the book/film, goes on a number of these philosophical journeys in search of various things like Love and in this case Happiness.
Now whilst this isn’t going to be a book review as such it does include a couple of the lessons from the book but to reduce the boredom factor I am only focusing on 3 of the 23 and I don’t think it spoils anything but if you want to read the book/watch the film and then come back to this blog then that is allowed….you can muse on my giraffe kissing before reading on.
So back to Hector…as he embarks on his journey of discovery he notes a number of ‘lessons’ along the way to help him understand what makes people happy and ultimately to find the sole answer to that question. He soon realizes that just isn’t possible.
Lesson 1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness
I have brought this up in previous blogs but it’s very true and worth repeating. As humans we are built in a way that lends itself to comparison either in how we look, how we feel or our concern for what others do around us and why we aren’t like them or can’t be like them. I would challenge anyone to say they have never at any stage in their life compared themselves, its natural. Most recently for me this has been comparing myself to my younger brother who got engaged to his gorgeous girlfriend in September and is getting married next year. Whilst I am far away from that stage right now it doesn’t make me compare any less which I know is utterly stupid – I’m the older sibling, why isn’t it me…blah blah blah. The more we compare the less we can actually be happy with what we do have, and I have a lot to make me happy, and what that really means to us. At some stage that same level of happiness my brother has will find me, which I truly believe will happen, in whatever form it takes.
Lesson 3: Many people see happiness only in their future
I am a very future focused person. For me the future holds happiness potential in the form of a family (among other things). This future seems a little far away right now and I know I focus on it a lot which isn’t very healthy but I know a number of us do, MRKH or not. Our biological clocks tick like the loudest clock in the room yet we are the only ones who hear it. For me it has been a focus of a lot of my own anxiety and fear about the future particularly when my long term relationship broke down after looking starting to consider our future options and honestly I felt so lost. This is however something that I have only been able to address through thinking about it differently, helped by some much needed and worthwhile counselling at the time. I am not going to lie and say I don’t still see lesson 3 applying however I don’t let it become the sole focus of my thoughts ,as it was at one stage, and I have had the chance to put things into context, allowing myself to focus on the now for a change. The more we focus on the future the more the present can suffer, I don’t want that.
Lesson 14: Happiness is being loved for exactly who you are
It’s really ok to be you. We forget this a lot, I know I do, but the right people will love you for who you are regardless. Whilst I know many of us MRKHers may feel inadequate because we can’t provide what we might consider as something so natural (at least in the natural way), that a number of us grow up thinking about, we need to remember that we sadly cannot change what we have and as hard as it is we do need to accept it in some form. Aside from that there are a large number of us who have been very much accepted by our respective partners despite having a condition which some of us feel limits us and reduces our chance of happiness.
Whilst that may sound blunt it is true and I know that it’s not easy to get to the stage that I feel I am at (it’s really really not easy) and I certainly couldn’t say that it doesn’t bother me anymore (because that would be a massive lie) but I have come to accept that I can’t do anything about it. If I don’t at least accept it in some form then I know I can’t ever be happy.
We so often wish things were different and/or wonder about the friends or family we see in the situation we wish we were in. I don’t know about you but I want happiness and as hard as it is to feel you are making progress to that point when you are feeling so low (and I really am not being flippant about depression because it is awful) I would rather put in the time, for as long as it takes to slowly chip away at those feelings. Making sure I focus on what I want, no one else, me. Understand the limitations of what I want and how I might overcome them whilst all the time knowing that there is a whole heap of help out there in so many forms. By doing that I can feel I am making progress, it maybe snail’s pace slow at times and you may have setbacks but I know I am strong, we are all stronger than we think, and we can make progress to our own respective happiness’.
Note: The film is good, it’s got Simon Pegg in it (and I like him) and it made me laugh and also feel quite emotional (which isn’t hard, I cried at the finale to the Great British Bake Off) but the book is well worth a read, it’s fun and quite different to the film in many ways.