Remember how happy and joyful you were when you were as a kid? You played, laughed, danced and jumped around without a care.
Because, no matter what else was happening in the world, you were living in the present moment. You may say:
“Yes, but kids don’t have responsibilities and problems, so it’s easy for them to be happy.”
Well, yes and no.
I have always wondered what happens with our natural childish joyfulness when we grow up.
Where does it go?
Why does it go away?
And why is it so difficult to get back?
In the end, I concluded that it’s because we “create” the stories in our heads based on various limiting beliefs, fears and insecurities that steals our happiness and puts us into ‘Needing Mode’.
Suddenly, our lives are overtaken by things we think we need:
- I need to accomplish this…
- I need to prove myself…
- I need to get promoted…
- I need to be liked…
- I need to get married before I’m 35…
And the list goes on, and we think that only when we have achieved everything will we be truly happy.
Having it all doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Originally from the closed-off world of Belarus, when I managed to get a scholarship to the British University, I made a decision – I will succeed no matter what!
I told myself I will prove I can do it. I will climb the career ladder and reach the top because then I will be proud of myself. My parents will be proud. I will fit into a society where there are plenty of opportunities if you are willing to work hard.
And I proved I could do it. I successfully climbed to the top of the career ladder of a large American bank, got numerous promotions, received awards, recondition, bonuses, but…
But I wasn’t happy.
I had an incredible life on paper. I had:
- A successful career
- A nice flat
- Great friends
- A fabulous husband
- Money to afford extravagant holidays
What else could you possibly want, Irina? You have it all! But, deep inside, I felt empty, lonely and… guilty.
I wasn’t satisfied with my life, career and relationships, but I couldn’t share it with anyone because I felt ashamed for complaining about having a great life. I had the nagging feeling that something was missing, but had no idea what.
I was left wondering:
“Is this it? Is this all there is?”
I see many people who are addicted to success but are constantly unhappy, despite all they achieve and have. They are “hustling” to make their way to the top, driven by the unconscious belief that this destination will solve their internal angst. And when they arrive at said success point, they find it isn’t quite what they thought and doesn’t offer the peace and happiness they desired.
Disillusioned, they set new targets and chase new destinations in the hope of the “next” level being the one to unlock their true happiness. Meanwhile, they’re running away from the internal angst of their inner critic, with a constant feeling that something is “missing” and a firm belief that “success” will finally bring internal peace and happiness.
The truth is, peace comes from the ability to master the internal relationship with the self – self-mastery.
Your achievements will never out-perform the image you hold of yourself.
It’s about doing the inner work to come home to yourself.
It took me a while to understand what was going on and make changes.
With time I realised all my successes were externally-driven and based on “If… then” conditioning, ie. If I get promoted/buy a nice flat / learn a new language… I will be successful and happy.
Here’s the thing.
Happiness is a choice.
It is unconditional. The conditions are only the ones YOU create, and this is what will steal your joy with time.
Happiness is calm and peaceful.
It makes you feel grounded and in balance. It doesn’t need to prove, to rush, to be liked and be externally validated.
It just wants to BE.
On the other hand, fear screams loudly and pushes you to achieve and achieve non-stop.
It’s often dependent on accumulating more and looking good in the eyes of those around you. Nearly all of which will leave you forever striving, never feeling like you’ve ever truly arrived, never successful and happy enough.
Here is a crucial question:
Do you want to be happy, not WHEN you achieve/have/be more, but NOW?
Make a choice to be happy. I’m not saying you don’t need to make any changes at all. For example, if you have an unfulfilling career or relationships, change is essential!
But when you are happy NOW, your energy and how you approach the change will be different. The path to a new career or relationships will be easier and clearer. The change will be internally driven and will align with:
- Who you are
- What matters to you
- What you value most
And most importantly, you’ll be detached from the outcome, enjoy the journey, appreciate what you have and be happy, no matter what.
This is when everything you ever dreamt about will be your reality, and being happy will naturally attract more happiness to your life.
With Love, Irina
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