Finding Yourself

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

“Be happy for this moment… This moment is your life.”

-Omar Khayyam

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

What does “finding yourself” mean?  Does it mean you’re lost?  Displaced?  Out of touch?

I think that people sometimes use this as shorthand for “finding out who I am.”

We focus on “finding,” as if there’s something hidden or lost.  As if there’s an answer.

But the happiest people I know, know that there isn’t anything hidden.  There’s no “secret.”  That’s the secret: that there is no secret.  There’s no one path to happiness.  In fact, happiness isn’t a goal or a destination; it’s not the ends to your means. It is the means.  It is the path.

What I mean by that is that sometimes I think we do things just to find an answer.  People go to church for an answer.  We go to school so we can “be” something or somebody.  We make money so we can buy stuff so we can “be happy.”

The fact is that as long as we chase happiness, we’ll never get it.  People who make more money spend more money.  The wise man doesn’t have answers; he has questions.  Work is not usually the most satisfying source of identity.  Most of us want to be seen for who we are, but the problem is that many people don’t know.

When you introduce yourself, most of us give our name and what work we do.  But though interesting, that’s not nearly the most interesting thing about me.  When my friends think of me, I’ll bet the first thing that comes to mind is how often I read.  They come to me for recommendations on books, quotes relevant to their lives or what they’re going through.  I write and like to talk about topics that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything.

I’m loyal and kind, sarcastic and irritable, superstitious and logical, contradictory and secure with my contradictions.

But I can’t be summed up by my qualities, and neither can you.  I’m never bored and don’t understand people who are.  I love drinking up a moment.  The other day, we went to see Blade Runner and then went hiking in the woods.  I enjoyed the loud, dark theater with the gritty tech-noir movie as much as I enjoyed the play of light and dogs splashing in the water.

The secret to happiness is to be happy now, today.  There’s no “when” or “if.”  Maybe life wasn’t what you wanted it to be, and maybe it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  Maybe it sucks.  When people are unhappy, they often want to prove it and justify it.  They list the reasons why they’re unhappy, which usually have something to do with family, job, relationship (or lack thereof).

You can spend time justifying why you’re unhappy, but why would you want to do that?  I believe you, that you’re justified in your unhappiness.  You don’t have to prove it to me!  But is that where you want to live?  Is that where you want to stay stuck?

We can’t change what’s happened to you or how other people treat you.  If you want to be happy, start looking for reasons to be happy.  Reasons to be happy are like seeds.  Sometimes they don’t look like much, but if you water them and give them sunlight, even a little bit, they’ll grow.  Sometimes what they grow into can surprise you.

“They tried to bury us.  They didn’t know we were seeds.”

-Mexican Proverb

If you believe you have reasons to be unhappy, you probably do.  But we all have stories.  There’s no use in comparing the stories, because the worst thing to happen to me is the worst thing for me.  Your worst thing might be different, but it’s still the worst thing for you.  Saying “what happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to him or her” isn’t useful because you’re only living your life.  I think it’s useless to compare your successes to others.  Just be the best you that you can be.  So why would you compare your sadness to the sadness of another?  It’s yours.  Personal.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t be happy.  Stop focusing on the things that make you unhappy.  If you want to be happy, feed what it is that makes you happy.  Read.  Hike.  Draw.  Walk the dog.  Pet the cat.  Volunteer.  Go to concerts or comedy shows.  Sing in the shower.  Or the car.  Or in your backyard… who cares what the neighbors think?

Instead of finding yourself, find what makes you happy.  Everything else will work itself out.