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Becoming Alive Again: Find Happiness Right Where You Are

Really Happy

“Letting go of the past means that you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now” ~Don Miguel Ruiz

For many of us, life spits out the very real scenario of “one day to the next.” As we go through the motions, our daily routine, whatever that entails, our life becomes predictable. We feel like it’s Groundhog Day. As we land our feet on the ground when we wake each morning, we feel like we are back on the merry-go-round of life.

For me, as I woke every morning, I questioned myself: “Is this it? Am I to feel like this every day?”

I wanted to feel alive again. All those teenage dreams, those adolescent aspirations that I once had when life was fairly simple, were now gone.

A time when once I felt like I could be anything and have it all had now faded, and my life started to feel a little grey.

Initially I sought out help from a therapist. I wanted to find that person again, the one who had passion about life, but I needed help. I needed direction. Of course, the therapist was not able to solve my problems. But she gave me hope. Hope with compromise.

She helped me to understand the idea of seasons. We all go through life, and our life has seasons of its own. Not the temperate kind that we know, but periods of change, growth. Some of those seasons are not as joyous or productive as others. For me at that time, well, quite frankly it just wasn’t my season. It was my winter. I wanted spring!

Over time I came to accept that the stage of life that I was in could not be changed. I was a responsible adult to three children, I was married, and I was employed in a job that I was satisfied with and we had a mortgage. There were mouths to feed and bills to pay.

All extremely sensible, and with choice I could have left my entire domestic scenario and uprooted my tribe, and radically adjusted our lifestyle in order to find what it was I felt was missing. To be honest, I wanted to escape domesticity; I wanted an easy out, in the hope that I would get back my creativity and my passion for life.

However, the adult in me knew that this would be unfair to many of those around me.

So here’s what I did—eventually (certainly not overnight!).

I developed in my mind and on paper a 10-year plan for my career.

I am happy in the job that I am doing—not skipping over rainbows happy, but “close to home, great people to work with” happy. I am satisfied for the moment; however, I don’t want to be here employed in my place of work in ten years time.

I thought about where my family would be in ten years—how old they would be, how much of a commitment they would need from me. That commitment would shift in ten years because of their growth, and so would my priorities about where I worked.

So I enrolled to study so that I can head into a different career path in ten years. While it may seem a long way off, how often do we look back on ten years and wonder where it went?

Making long-term goals for your career allows you to commit to something new and achieve a path to career fulfilment.

I accepted that there were things about my life that I couldn’t change and I stopped torturing myself about them.

I couldn’t, at that time, change where I lived. My children were settled in a school, my job was secure and relatively satisfying, so really there was no reason to leave. If we did move, our mortgage costs would increase and this would simply exacerbate stress on our lives.

I was at a point of practicalities in my life and needed to accept them, not regret them. Torturing myself about choices I had made during my life was not helpful.

It’s not productive to wish for a life you didn’t live. Dwelling on regret is torturing yourself, because focusing on choices you made in the past won’t help you create momentum in the present.

I learned to focus on what I already have, rather than what I want.

I think about how grateful I am for the health and wellbeing of those around me who I love and adore.

In the commercial world of today, we are surrounded and hounded to buy this and buy that, and be this and be that, and to want and want and then want more—because advertisers and marketers tell us that we won’t be good enough if we don’t want more!

Focus on the great things you have already and hug those beautiful people who fill your life with love and friendship right now.

I made a list of “do-able” things that make me happy. 

While some of those adolescent and young adulthood dreams and hopes are not achievable right now, I wrote a list of things that I like to do or that challenge me. They’re things that I aspired to do in my past life but just never got around to.

Writing is one. Yoga and walks on my own keep my mind and body balanced. Listening to music brings me joy.

It’s about connecting with our passion for all those little things that we forget are the foundation of who we are—things that form the spirit within us. Keeping it simple is best. Strip your “happiness list” back to basics.

It may be taking a bubble bath, or reading a particular book. Or it may be something bigger, like learning the guitar or running a marathon.

I took myself on a trip. On my own. Overseas! 

It was a beautiful destination—tropical, beaches, resort style accommodation, happy hour! Sounds wonderful, but in all honesty, I was petrified. I had to travel on a plane for eight hours, enter a foreign country, and be exposed to a culture entirely different to mine.

I hate flying, was scared of catching some awful tummy bug, and wasn’t even sure if I would come back alive. No one would know if something happened to me—at least not for a while. But guess what? All those mixed emotions—the fear, the worry, the excitement, and the anticipation—all of it made me feel alive again.

I was feeling! I was feeling emotions that I hadn’t felt for a long time. Every morning I would walk along the beach. I drank beer at 11am. I lay in the shallows of the ocean and watched tiny transparent fish dart around me. I walked in the afternoon tropical rainstorm. I ate in restaurants alone.

So the question is: Where would you like to go? Ask yourself that and take yourself there—even if it’s just to a local tourist destination. Sometimes the closest journeys are the most satisfying. Reward yourself and take a trip to a place you have never been before.

Becoming alive again was a journey, and from time to time I have to stop and regroup with all those feelings. Then once again I’m alive and smiling inside. You can be too.

Photo here

Avatar of Julia Matthews

About Julia Matthews

Julia is currently dabbling in creative writing – a passion from her teenage years, and is about to begin a degree in social science. She is also about to take a road trip to the centre of Australia with her family. Julia hopes that this will be an opportunity for more creative writing.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Rebecca Nicole

    Thank you for writing this article it was a comfort in ways I’m not yet able describe out loud,I felt a break through however and for that I thank you.

  • Emily

    So well put, so practical. Not easy to do on this subject. I think a lot of men desert wives and families over this ‘wanna be a teenager again’ phase. Feeling less powerful, and wanting that control back, is very much involved in that phase as a rule. This article speaks to them … wish it were disseminated in places where they gather.

  • AKA

    I’ve been faking my way through life for 25 years. I don’t remember ever feeling actual joy or happiness. Just darkness. And I’m tired. Tired of trying to be strong and get through each day.

  • Chantal

    Great article and so very true, we can’t abandon our responsibilities after all they are choices we made. At times it would be lovely to run off and have a different life but then you are into the grass is greener scenario. You have to accept what you have, stand by the decisions you made and give thanks and enjoy the journey you’re on even though you may want to jump up and down screaming :-)

  • Aprajay

    I felt so relieved after reading this! I have been living as prisoner of my past, for the last 5-6 years! I have got into the habit of regretting the choices I make; I keep doubting my self. All this has affected my ability to make decisions and has forced me to lead a life of continuous anxiety and guilt. But this article is an eye-opener, a ray of hop, that i can also lead a positive life and be happy, whatever challenges or situations life presents me. I feel I can be happy after all and feel liberated. Thanks!!!

  • Kila

    I was depressed for many years, tried everything. I found, http://www.happy-life4u.com. There is a cure, without drugs.

  • Christopher Gransbury

    I hear you there. It’s so easy to put a fake personality out there for everyone to see and hide you’re true self away. I’m 23 and it took my brother coming to visit me for me to feel excited for the first time in years. Now that he’s gone, I feel like I’m just walking through life in the middle of the night where no one can see me.

  • Razwana

    Taking a step back and evaluating the bigger picture – you are appealing to the planner that I am, Julia!

    I also love that you took a trip overseas alone! That kind of adventure rocks! Total out-of-comfort-zone experience!

    Will you repeat it?

  • Michelle

    I am so glad I read this article today. I am a mother to a 7 and 5 year old and left my job to support my husband in his “dream” job last year. I often wonder what happened to me? To be truthful my paid employment was just that- a job that provided me money with to pay the mortgage and feed the children. While at times I did enjoy it, it drained me emotionally. However I often think “in ten years time am I going to look back and regret this.” I have set challenges for myself such as running a half marathon, committing to a yoga practice, learning to knit, reading all those books I have wanted to read; yet i feel that something is missing. I need to make some plans for that time when my children don’t need me to pack their lunch for school or do their hair every morning. Think beyond the present, go beyond my comfort zone and start living even within my current responsibilities. Thank you for making me consider a different way to look at differently.

  • idealist man

    I don’t know…. I’m in the middle of totally dismantling my old crappy life and pushing the reset button. But I’m lucky (or equally unlucky) to be in a position where I can.
    Sometimes you just have to change your life and although all your sentiments are totally positive, I feel that your article needs my comment. Otherwise, this whole thread looks like a love in for people who are just “making the best of what they’ve got” which is admirable but definitely only a step in finding your calling and living your dreams. I’m no expert though, I’m in my late thirties and have no idea what I want from life and how I can really contribute to the world. (all of it)

  • AKA

    It sucks, right! And so many people seem to think it’s so easy to fix.

  • dee

    I absolutely see where you both are coming from and I’m glad someone else feels like I do. Everyone is all like just get over it or think about blessings and I just don’t see how that could help. It’s not easy at all.

  • Mickey01

    It’s kind of an evil paradox, but i’m glad to know that there are others experiencing these same feelings (or similar) i am experiencing. I am 23 and for nearly a year now i feel like i’m living in the doldrums, in some forgotten barren place. There’s nothing that really excites me anymore, I’ve lost faith in myself, my abilities and though I’ve tried oh so hard to see the positives in my life i can’t help but resign to the thinking that it’s a waste of time putting any effort in anything as in the end its just going to be another big ole disappointment. I’ve become detached from people (I literally only have ‘meaningful’ conversations with two persons in my life), can’t seem to be able to communicate with people even to the point where i become uncomfortable and nervous around persons and situations i usually worked well with.

  • Tran Nguyen

    I’m getting stuck with my past right now. It’s been months already. I did have the peacefulness in my mind after years of cheating and abandonment. But I was being cheated again, so now the pain seems to be in my heart and wait for chances to turtore me.

  • Tran Nguyen

    How have you been recently after the shock?

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  • Andrew

    I found out that doing new things every day can help you boost your happiness. You can find ideas i.e. here: http://simpledelis.com