Since the day I moved to Nashville my focus was always on meeting needs that I assumed would get me to a certain level of comfort and happiness. I would say things to myself like, “Once I get a job, I’ll be comfortable. Once I get a dog to keep me company, I’ll be happy. Once I attend my first big industry event I will have “made it” in music.” And by attaining these things (and more) I quickly learned that true happiness is totally different than what I thought it was.
You see, once all of those things above happened to me, I was excited that they happened, but they didn’t raise my overall level of happiness. I would feel so frustrated and confused when I had the company of my dog and a job with opportunities that exceeded my expectations, but was still crying every other day, 2 years into living here, wanting to give up on it all. Why was I still feeling like this? The answer, now that I know it, is simple. I wasn’t enjoying the things that were happening to me as experiences but rather stepping stones that would lead me to “destination happiness.” And that has probably been my biggest mistake so far.
So how do we focus on enjoying things as they happen for us instead of expecting them to take us to a happier place? I think it starts with being mindful about how we’re spending our time and energy, being honest with ourselves about what brings us joy, and then not letting any distractions steer us away from living that truth. One book that has helped me become more mindful is called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It opened my eyes to how little I was aware of what I was doing, because my mind was always somewhere else. You can get it here on Amazon of course, or if you don’t want to spend money you can borrow it from me. It’s that good.
Think about it. When was the last time you took a shower and savored it for what it was, instead of letting your mind wander off, replaying nasty comments someone said to you, a mistake you made at work, or thinking about all the things you have to do when you get out of the shower?
This hit me pretty hard when I was reading an article on savoring simple things and being in the present moment for them, and I realized that I’m on auto pilot while doing some of the biggest things that bring me joy. Why? because my mind is constantly trying to get somewhere better.
I think we need to ask ourselves what it is that we truly want in life and not let pictures on social media tell us what we want. Once we’re honest with ourselves, it’s easier to focus on cultivating those things and not pay attention to all the other noise. When I sat down to write out what truly makes me happy and what success means to me, I realized that I already have it all. I just haven’t been savoring it or enjoying it as it happens. And the best part is that there are so many great things coming that I haven’t even experienced yet.
I hope this was at least a little bit eye opening for you and that you use some of the resources in this post to find your happiness instead of looking for it on social media. It’s not there, trust me, I’ve looked.
Check out this Matthew McConaughey video where he puts this happiness thing into perspective even more.