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 ten-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 well-being 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

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.

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  • 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, 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:

  • jo

    it was great reading this article. I’m 28 now but already feel like i’m just going with the flow. Feel like I haven’t reached anywhere in my life. Wanna go somewhere on my own..stay out from everything for sometime..

  • Marcos I.

    I’ve never really felt happy only for moments here and there…… I’ve seeked professional help but to no availe. I feel as if I’m floating in life with no sense of direction or hope, and believe I have reached my breaking point. I’m 38 yrs old and for the most part of my life dating back to as young as 12 I have thought of suicide than rather live with this unshakeable feeling and sadness and anger. I’m too much of a coward to take my own life but I have thought of ways to maybe get myself involved in a crime in progress and deter the criminal from the victim and risk my own life so that way I’m not killing myself technically….I have days well everything was beautiful and joyous but they were too few and short in between days. I have a 6 yr old daughter that lord knows I love more than I ever did myself. I just don’t know why I just can’t be happy? Isn’t that after all we all want out of life? What ever happened to us that we lost that in our lives?

  • Andrea

    Dear Michelle….I too felt as you do now. Remember one thing…what you are accomplishing now is without a doubt the most important thing and time of your life. When your children have moved on and you no longer have their lunches to pack you will remember those days as your best days. Seize the moment as they say. your time will come.

  • Happiness is acheived differently from one individual to another. There are people that can be happy with little things, and others that need many positive feelings in order to be really happy and enjoy happiness at it’s highest level.

  • tanya

    I am figting with my hubsnd for 2 years-tried psychoterapy. his brother is inmy face all the time morning noon and night help

  • lovelove

    (Crying!!!!!!) I’m 26 and I have 4 lovely kids. But I feel lost in my life I’m un happy and I don’t know why cant I just be happy.I have been through soooooooooo much in my life for the age I am and have always been delt a bad hand. I feel like I don’t have a happy season no summer ,spring, or fall just cold dark winters . But I still try to find my happiness. For me so that I can be happy with myself and I can make my kids happy too. I just want to be happy . I’m going to take that trip that I truly deserve and a least I took the time out to put my happiness and myshlef FIRST!!!! Thank You!!!!

  • guest

    Im stranded right now out of town. I have not ate all day. No where to go. Before i left town i gave people money. I knew i needed it for travel but i tried to help them out. Now im in desperate need. I cant get no help.

  • Secret in Cincinnati

    I wish I could find some way to find happiness where I am. I’m in a marriage to a man that I absolutely adore! He is an amazing husband and a great father and that is where the problem lays. When him and I first met about 6 years ago, I told him hat I wanted move away from this area, neither of us are from here, as soon as my mother passed away. He didn’t have custody of his kids at that time, we have shared parenting with us being primary household now. His ex has every other weekend visitation. He said he understood and that we would cross that bridge when we got to it. Sadly, my mother passed away in February 2014 and yet here we still are in late May 2015 with no move in sight. My husband adopted my two children, so I do not have to worry about their dad stopping me from going, but now his ex wife is drowning me in this city that I loathe.
    I don’t have any small joys. I don’t have hobbies, I don’t have anything I like to do other than obsess about how miserable I am here. I need to escape. I have never contemplated suicide more in my life. I HATE it here, but can’t imagine life without my husband. I wish I would have never met him.

  • janvi

    I keep losing direction in my life then I don’t know how to begin again..whats the ebst thing to do …

  • Viv

    Be open to view of others. Might help. Life is not “patthar ki lakir”

  • janvi

    my past mistakes trouble my present….that has slowed me down in life

  • Viv

    Did you mention ‘mistakes’? That’s a good news. Humans make mistake. Mistake’s are not intentional. Discuss it with someone. I wish I could have helped you, can understand. Though, this may not be the best forum.

  • janvi


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  • ash

    I am feeling this. I wish it would stop. I don’t know how to make it stop.

  • Phil

    Has Life got better for you ? and if so where are you know and what’s changed ? i would love to know as i am currently 23 and experiencing the same.

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  • Akshara

    Im in the college and i feel like am living the same day on a loop for the past 3 years. It kills me and I don’t know how to explain to my parents. I have started to get depressed about it but make a strong face for my mom n dad. I have good gpa but this is not me . Some times I just want to cry n run away. I know I’m blessed to have parents and friends who care for me deeply but i just feel like dead inside. I lost myself , the real me who had hope that she could be who ever she wants to be.
    I’llbe fine . I’m having a bad day or bad year or bad years. I domt know. I’ll just get back to the project work.
    Thanks for spening your time n reading

  • Stephanie Chin

    How are you doing now?

  • David Evans

    I was doing a lot of these things mentioned and felt happier than i have in a long time, recently I had started deviating away from some of these things that I had put in place and have felt the weighty hand of depression on me recently. It was great to read this article and remind myself of what made things much better! Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  • Desiree Zantolas

    This is so great! I did the same thing, I travelled to Japan by myself & decided to do what I wanted to do instead of waiting around for someone else to tell me what I wanted to do.
    This is a wonderful reminder of how to strip it back to find the happiness in life when things are ordinary & mundane, but you’re right, you can’t just flip over the game & start over all the time. You need to work with what you got & realize it’s in us to make this change happen.