Today, I read an excellent article from Matt Madeiro about happiness that asked us to answer the following two questions:
- What is your definition of happiness?
- Are you there yet? Do you fit that description?
So today, I'm going to take just a moment and answer those questions.
What is my definition of happiness?
My life has changed a lot over the last few months which has given me the opportunity to think about this question more than most people. I'm not sure I can completely quantify it in a simple statement, but here goes:
"Happiness for me is living my life on my own terms."
Now, let me elaborate a bit. I have recently begun taking on some side jobs and I've been really fortunate in that I have received more interest than I expected. I have actually had to turn down a few clients because I simply don't have the time for them. In particular, I've been able to pick and choose the clients that I really want to work with. Taking on these side jobs has also allowed me the flexibility to work where I want, when I want. For example: I'm beginning to rediscover my love for coffee shops since I can stay for a few hours and actually get paid for it.
One point I want to stress here though: living life on my own terms is not about doing what I want, when I want, how I want.
In the past, I've had the freedom to make choices, to make commitments, and to live life how I wanted. Sometimes, those past choices conflict with what I want to do right now. Happiness isn't about always getting what you want; that would be ludicrous! It's about having the freedom to make your own choices, and follow through with them. There will always be trade-offs, but the ability to choose those things which will bring you more happiness in the long run is one of the greatest of freedoms.
Lastly, living life on my own terms is about being able to work towards my ultimate goal. It's okay if I'm not exactly where I want to be, as long as I am able to do things that get me closer to it. I love to learn and to grow, so I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever be where I want, but I am happy knowing that I am working towards it.
This brings me to the second question.
Am I there yet? Do I fit that description?
The last year has really helped me shift my attitude. I now know that I can achieve what I want. I know that eventually, I will own my own business and be able to work from wherever my wife and I decide to be. I know that if I don't reach my goals, it's my own fault; and that sometimes that's okay.
Humans are an interesting race; the world changes so quickly around us, and in general, we accept that change, yet we're not ready to really change ourselves. Change our priorities. Change our views of what we want out of life.
Now, I'm not one for being wishy-washy or not having some long-term goals, but too often, I find myself clinging to something that I don't actually care about anymore! An unfinished book that I know the ending to. A project that won't change the world, but I feel like I have to finish. A blog that I want to read, even though I'd rather be writing and building up my own.
So, in the last year, I've begun to try a new technique (and pardon the use of a phrase that is bouncing around the blogosphere): do more of what I love, and less of what I don't.
If there is something that is weighing me down...and I don't have to do it, I don't! I let it slide, and I focus on the stuff that I do want to do. The stuff that I really enjoy. The stuff that makes me jump inside and come alive!
It's been fun, and a bit surreal, to feel this transition.
So, am I there yet? Am I where I want to be?
But I am getting closer and closer each day; and for me, that is what brings happiness.