I’ve always cringed when someone asked me, ‘Are you happy?’ I would most likely reply with a smile ‘Yes! I’m happy!’… in-part trying to believe it myself, but also to portray the ‘image’ of someone who ‘had it going on’.
I often wondered why I cringed. Was it because I felt the expectation on me that I should be happy? Yes – definitely. But there was more. There was something about this ‘happy’ that didn’t sit well with me. It was as though I, and many others, placed so much emphasis on attaining happiness that it became our sole purpose in life… so we went about looking for it outside of ourselves in whatever way we thought we could get it.
Happiness felt elusive, unattainable – something just out of arm’s reach.
I felt that I was failing at life if I wasn’t ‘happy’. I chased it – and sometimes I felt it – but I could never hang onto it. It would be there for a moment, sometimes for consecutive moments, sometimes for intermittent moments that spread out over a week or two. But it was neither solid nor constant and when it was time to be on my own, I felt flat, bored, empty – anything but happy.
So how and where could I get this ‘happy’ that everyone was talking about? How could I make it permanent?
I had many ideas of where to find this happiness: a career, lots of friends, frequenting the latest bars, cafes and restaurants, being fit, healthy and active, having the latest clothes, being immaculately put together, having the perfect partner, being the perfect daughter, sister, friend, mother, owning a beautiful home… the list goes on. Yet even when I had all of that going on, happiness was not a constant in my life.
In truth, underneath it all, I felt desperately empty. I often wondered what was wrong with me and what I needed to do to fix myself.
About 4 or 5 years ago, a friend of mine I was seeing for support with women’s health mentioned she had started offering Esoteric Healing sessions. She asked if I would be open to having a session with her. I had heard of Esoteric Healing before and had previously had a couple of sessions with another practitioner. I knew immediately that it felt right for me. What I felt in my first session with her was exactly the same as what I had experienced with the other practitioner some years earlier. There were no bells or whistles, just a gentle loveliness… something full and real. My body rested deeply, it was like I had fallen asleep, but I was still very much there.
I liked what was being presented to me so I continued to have sessions. Each session offered me an opportunity to look at how I was living and how I was supporting myself. I was able to feel more of myself and also able to feel the ideals and beliefs I had taken on that weren’t really true to me – i.e. what success looked like (you can bet happiness was part of that picture!), what it was to be a good mother (think the self-sacrificial type that puts her child’s needs above her own), what it was to be a woman… again the list goes on.
With the support of the esoteric modalities over the years I’ve made gradual changes to the way I live and, most importantly, to how I am with myself. I treat myself with respect and care. I listen to my body and its signals. I take time to connect with myself each day. I’m open to what I feel (the good, the bad, the ugly). I love being with me.
I walk down the street feeling the gorgeousness of myself and I live knowing who I am and I aim to stay connected to that at all times. I feel full. I rarely feel that empty feeling that used to plague me – and, if I do, I know that it is because I have disconnected and all I need to do is be honest about where I’m at and reconnect.
So, there I was, feeling pretty awesome and someone asked me ‘Are you happy?’ Lo & behold – I cringed!
The immediate response was, ‘No’… and then, I reacted inside myself.
‘What? Am I still not happy? Of course I am. I feel amazing! How can I not be happy after all of this time! All of these changes! I don’t feel empty… surely I must be happy?!!’ .
And then it occurred to me.
Is happiness really it? Is it possible that we are asking the wrong question?
I knew that the solidness I felt in me was real. I knew that I didn’t feel like I was lacking anything or needing to fill myself. I knew that what I felt in me was something far grander than anything I had tried to attain outside of myself.
What I was able to then feel was that ‘happiness’ is as I had always felt it to be – it is but a fleeting moment. It comes and goes; it is something that we can’t hang on to. Like any other emotion, it is not solid. It is often attached to an event or a hype of some kind.
It feels good in the moment and then it subsides after the fact.
Joy needs nothing to evoke it. It lives inside of me.
It is there when I am sleeping and it is there when I wake. It is solid and it is constant. It feels confirming of who I am – and I don’t need to do anything except connect to me and be with me to feel it. It is so much more robust than happiness. It fills my body with warmth and when I am connected to it I feel play-full – like I want to express all of me to the world.
Yes indeed, joy feels to me to be where it’s at!
So then – am I happy? No – not always.
But am I joyful? Very much so.
By Brooke Taylor, RTO Academy General Manager, Elwood, Australia