“If you want to be happy, be happy. Everything you need to be happy, you have right now. With every desire you fulfill you will have new desires. Happiness is not in the achieving of goals. Happiness is a choice.” (John Kehoe)
I remember when I heard this the first time – it took me quite by surprise. Why had I spent my whole life trying to attain happiness – this elusive state – if it was a simple choice. The more I thought about it, and realised how powerful the mind is… the more it started to make sense. When you think about it – we often tell ourselves that we will be happy when we have this perfect job, or that relationship, or go on that spectacular holiday, or win the lotto. Then, you get the job, meet “the one” – and you’re happy for a while. But, you always want more.
When you remove the expectation that something external is responsible for your happiness, and realise that its up to you to choose, you start to experience a new kind of happiness. A blissful, content, peaceful happiness. A happy that does not need more, or want it to be different – a happy that just is. By choosing to be happy, you focus your mind on the positive – this positive energy makes it impossible to be unhappy.
My mind and my emotions are quite a handful. A small thing can upset me and send me into a spiral of unhappiness. It is so easy to focus only on the negative, on what’s wrong with the moment, to become jaded or dissatisfied with life, to forget about all the incredible things that you have around you. I’m learning to let go of all those preconceived ideas about what I think will make me happy. I’m learning to focus on the now and on the positive.
In the now, when I choose to be happy, I can notice the small things. When I lived in Cape Town, the sight of Table Mountain could fill me with joy (it still does). I smile every time I see the goat herder pass me on his scooter (he always greets and waves). I find great pleasure in a slow morning breakfast (anywhere in the world – on a rooftop in Kathmandu, at News Café in Centurion, at a homestay in Ubud, Bali). I love being with my little nephew and seeing him discover his new world. And I can go on… the sound and smell of rain; receiving a parcel or letter in the post; the silver reflection of the moon on the water; doing the laundry or cooking a meal (because I have time); sitting with my favourite cup of tea and a good book; peanut butter and rice cakes; an email/sms/call from a friend; a smile; a touch. In a world of more and better and deadlines and goals its easy to forget about the small things – and miss out on life.
“For happiness, how little suffices for happiness! … the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a wisk, an eye glance – little maketh up the best happiness. Be still.” (Nietzsche)
In moments of anxiety, unhappiness, turmoil, dissatisfaction, anger – I often have to stand back and remind myself of this: Everything you need to be happy, is right here – in this moment. Nothing more, nothing less. It works every time – it brings me back to this moment, and I smile. Because, this life is perfect, if you can allow yourself to appreciate the moment.