Happiness should be effortless, right?
It should be something we can simply tap into and experience. It should descend on us - a shimmer of rainbow coloured glitter and maybe a few unicorns as well. It should be easily accessible - or so we think.
Like many things in life though - happiness requires work.
I was reminded of that across the weekend. Having just published my book, Happy As, and been on a fabulous book tour across Australia, I was finishing up in Canberra - a place where I had spent the better part of a decade. The nation's capital, and the location of my abode and work for the latter part of my twenties, I knew it's wide streets well, but also many of the smiling faces in the sold out room I spoke to at Muse Books and Wine that evening.
It was an amazing experience to return to my old stomping ground a victor. Not only had I followed my dreams, but I had achieved an outcome. I had published a book on a topic I was deeply passionate about. I was buzzing.
The glitter and unicorns descended.
... but the next morning as I drove back to Sydney, another emotion gathered around me, and it was more linked to the anxious variety than the gleeful one experienced virtually hours ago. I was tired, slightly hung over, and back to my daily grind.
Recovering from a high is almost as difficult as the ascent.
In the days that followed I found myself to be ... glum.
The thing is, happiness isn't easy. Often we're battered about by a tide of emotions, highs can be followed by lows, lows by plateaus, and plateaus by more plateaus. Many theorists would indicate that happiness is to some degree a choice, and if not a choice, its something we need to work towards and on - always.
Doesn't sound appealing now?
Well, I disagree - there's power in the notion that you can impact on your own emotions, and you're not held captive by them.
Some of my key steps when I'm feeling glum include:
- Get up (because I'm usually sitting when the blues arrive), head outside, get some oxygen, vitamin D and if possible some exercise.
- Talk to someone. I'm a people person - I feed off interactions, so chatting with people always helps.
- Have a laugh. Studies show a smile can drive the production of endorphins - so have a little laugh.
- Be cognisant.
They're my steps but everyone has different ones. We're different beasts, and while we all need to work on happiness and the steps we take to that place of contentment might differ.
Tell me some of yours!