How do I know when I'm happy?

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Happiness is a strange thing. It can be given and taken so easily. Happiness to me, is when you can find fulfillment in almost everything and no longer have an insatiable need for more to feel validated and content.

Just like many others, I have so many things in my life to be happy about. I thought I was happy, but I was really just too distracted to be able to enjoy anything fully. Worrying can distract you from whatever it is you are doing at that moment. Even when things are great and even when you’re doing something you love- if you are distracted by a dull voice in your head causing you to think elsewhere, then you aren’t really enjoying it as much as you would like to. I remember describing this as feeling “numb”- not in the sense that I didn’t have feelings (trust me, I have plenty of those 😉 ) but in the sense that I just couldn’t connect with my surroundings and feelings entirely no matter how badly I wanted to. I was too worried about knowing whether or not what I was doing was good enough.

I don’t think it’s breaking news that I’ve always been worried about what other people think of me. If someone is talking about me behind my back then I must be a terrible person. It sounds ridiculous because everyone talks and usually doesn’t even mean what they’re saying but I know other people feel this way too. If you constantly fear what someone else thinks about you or look for validation elsewhere, then you’ll never be happy. You just won’t. And what about your own opinion of yourself? Isn’t that the most important of all? If it is, why does it seem that we can get so caught up in everything else and forget so quickly? Just because you stand up for yourself or care about yourself enough to make your happiness a priority, doesn’t mean that you are a bad person or that you are self-centered. It means that you are living.

How do I know that anything has changed for me personally? It’s a day by day journey. Since letting go of little things that constantly occupied my mind and had me anxious all the time, I’m able to feel more in touch with myself. When I am outside walking my dog I can feel the crisp fall air and enjoy it, I can relish in the moment and actually see my surroundings rather than be so consumed in my thoughts. You can truly feel the difference in small things like this.

The best advice I have to achieve this awareness is to first stop and listen. Do whatever it is that may help you get there- talk to someone about how you feel, meditate, do yoga, take a few days for yourself if you can, but most importantly listen to your body. Are you tired? Sleep. Are you sore? Rest. Do you miss someone? Call them. Craving chips? Eat the damn chips and forget about it. Are you looking forward to your workout? If not, then reevaluate what you are doing and why. Getting into a “routine” can actually put our minds on autopilot. While routines may be necessary at times, it is also necessary to step back and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Once you become aware, you are already taking the first step. Just as you got used to being out of touch, you will get used to being back in touch with time and practice. I’m telling you this because I know both sides and how much better it feels to let go of the anxiety. You only have one life. Do not waste it on worrying about things and other people’s thoughts that you will never be able to control. Take what you can control, and make it the best. Concentrating on your happiness in the moment fulfills you enough that you don’t need to try and find it elsewhere by doing something in excess. Remember what makes you truthfully happy and do it. You got this.

xx Shelbye.jpg
Shelbye Schlange