All of us at some point in our lives have said or thought, "I'll be happy when…." We are all guilty of feeling, or thinking, that happiness will come to us only when certain things have finally occurred. We think that these events will add more value to our lives, and that at that point we will finally be able to say, "Now, I am happy." Now that I have a new car. Now that I have lost 10 kilos. Now that I have a boyfriend. Now that these people around me seem to like me. Now, I am happy.
Unfortunately when we seek happiness in this way, our initial excitement and joy will inevitably wear off and we will again find ourselves feeling that something is missing. Something is still not quite as we wish it to be. In reality, we are still not happy.
Why? Why did achieving or obtaining our dreams and desires not make us happy? Because happiness doesn't come from things outside of us.
"Happiness comes from within. Happiness is an inside job."
I learnt this lesson early on in life. There was a time when my self-esteem, confidence and self-love had taken a beating and I didn't particularly like myself or my life. My internal dialogue was negative, self-defeating, self-loathing and utterly depressing. I desperately wanted to feel different. Most of all, I wanted to feel happy. "Help me find happiness" I'd plead to my mother as I sat crying at the foot of her bed. Her eyes would fill with tears, too. She couldn't help me. What could she do? She loved me, and that was all she could offer.
I reached a point where I just couldn't take another day of listening to the broken record inside my head that constantly dragged me down, sullied my days and made me feel small. It was then that I heard a voice deep inside me say that if I wanted to feel happy, that if I wanted to be happy, then I had to choose to be happy. It told me that if I didn't want to feel the darkness of my days, the heaviness of my negative thoughts and the drain of hating myself, then the only person who could help me feel differently was me. I had to be responsible for my own happiness.
A little while ago this cartoon appeared on my Instagram feed. When I saw it I instantly connected with it. It spoke straight to my heart and the voice that had long ago told me that I was the master of my own happiness.
The other day I was reminded of the cartoon while talking to one of my clients. She told me about a really wonderful way that she adds playfulness and happiness to her days. She said that she was a fan of the colour orange. She began taking photos of orange things that she came across in her travels and her everyday life. Because it gave her pleasure, she thought that others might enjoy watching out for orange things, too, and she started a special Facebook page. My client said that now many other fans of the colour share their photos on the page, spreading the fun and enjoyment - the happiness - that comes from appreciating something that is everywhere around us if only we choose to see it.
Later that day I headed into town for a meeting. I got off the tram and while walking past a row of clothing stores something caught my eye. Boom. Three mannequins in spring dresses with orange in them. Well, there you go, I thought to myself. I walked on maybe 10 metres. Boom. Across the street was a cafe and all the seat cushions were orange! Wow, I thought to myself, who knew there was so much orange in the city! I walked on 25 metres more. Boom. I noticed a woman walking towards me carrying her lunch in a plastic shopping bag. Inside the shopping bag was an orange! Within just 50 metres I had seen the colour three times. At first I thought it was a cute coincidence but by the third time I was smiling like an idiot, thinking about how I couldn't wait to tell my client about all the orange things I had just seen!
What a fun, easy and beautiful way to bring a little bit of happiness and joy into our everyday lives!
It is so simple, yet so effective. We often tend to over complicate the pleasures in life, so why not try giving this a go? I guarantee it will at least make you smile!
Here's how to do it:
1. Choose a colour. Any colour.
2. Start to notice where you see this colour when you are out and about.
3. If possible take a photo of the places, things and objects you come across that are in this colour.
4. Share your discoveries with a friend. Better yet, recruit one to join you in this easy happiness project and share your findings with each other.
5. Begin to notice the little smile that lights up inside you as you wander about your life randomly spotting things in this chosen colour.
6. Begin to notice the little spark of joy that fires when you find something strange and unusual in this colour.
7. Begin to notice the excitement you feel at telling your friend about this weird and wonderful thing you discovered in that colour.
8. Begin to notice the happiness you feel in your days and the lightness of spirit you experience when you choose to see things differently.
9. Realise that you have just created your own happiness. You did it. Just because you decided to start noticing a colour.
Happiness isn't in things; it's inside us. Happiness is available to us at any given moment. We always get to choose how we see things. We always get to choose how we feel. We always get to choose happiness.