Stop worrying about the wrong or right decision
Something I used to believe in, and it would be something I’d always felt pressured to chase; somewhere out there is that life for me, a life that will make me happy.
From a pretty young age on we must make decisions, big decisions that will impact our lives after. These decisions often come with a great amount of pressure, because what if I make the wrong choice and I will be unhappy with my life.
There are all these societal expectations (I’m 36 and single with no kids, believe me that I’m very aware of these expectations) to achieve certain things in life, we need to get married, have kids, have a great job and so on. And what this does it makes us think that when we achieve these things, it will make us happy.
The sad reality is that it often does not make us happy. This can put us on to this search, this search of happiness. Because I’m not happy in the situation I’m in so I have to find it somewhere else. So, we feel pressure to get married, pressured to have kids, pressured to find a better job, pressured to move to a different place, or even pressured to get divorced or quit our jobs. Because we must find happiness, and if we aren’t happy, we have to make a change. A change to these external circumstances.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I was like this, always on the search for this happy life for me. Because I felt unhappy way too much to my liking. I needed to “find the life for me”. Then Canada came on my path, and I instantly felt this would be the life for me, this is it, this is what will make me happy. I need to move there. So we did, and my happiness did get a boost from that, I felt happier. But after a while reality set in, and I was still feeling unhappy at times. Why did this happen? I had followed my dream, my external circumstances changed, I moved to the place that was going to make me happy, yet it didn’t anymore.
That’s when I started my search, why did what I think would make me happy not make me happy? That’s when I learned that these external circumstances have so little impact on our happiness. That the cliché of true happiness is found within is actually true. Only 10% of our happiness is determined by external activities, while intentional activities determine 40% of our happiness and our genes determine the other 50%. I thought this was shocking, why are we all, me included, so focused on the 10% and not the 40%?
Another thing I’ve learned is that we humans are very adaptable. And we pretty much always overestimate how things, good things and bad things, influence our happiness. We think that good things will make us so much happier, and we think bad things will make us very unhappy. Reality is yes, these things will impact our happiness, but not as much as we think and for a shorter period than we think. We are made to be so adaptable that we always return to our base level of happiness, which is made up of the percentages described above. Knowing all this and adjusting my life accordingly has made a big change in my life, because I am now happy.
The pressure I had put upon myself to make the right choice and find that happiness has in fact made me feel more unhappy at times. The pressure has caused a lot of stress, and at times has made me feel like a failure because why was I not able to be happy? Why couldn't I find that happiness? Why am I not happy now that I did what I thought would make me happy? What is wrong with me that I can't find it?
I believe that everything happens for a reason, there will no science or research backing this up, but it is one of my beliefs. Looking back at my life, the pressure I have put on myself to find “that happy life that’s out there for me” has made me miss opportunities and it has at times kept me from seeing the good things that were right in front of me. Knowing what I know now makes me see those things, it’s keeping my mind open to seeing what has come on my path with a reason, because the pressure is gone, I know that I can be happy wherever I am or whatever I’m doing. I can approach things with an open mind and see where life takes me and be guided by that instead of the pressure to make the right choice.
This all doesn’t mean that I don’t think you should work hard to achieve your goals, figure out what your passion is in life and go for it, create the life you want or follow your heart and dreams but be careful that your decisions aren’t based on fears or unrealistic expectations. Be careful with the pressure you put on yourself. Be aware that happiness is not to be found somewhere and that there are wrong or right choices that will impact your happiness forever, make sure you don’t get lost in a forever search for happiness. Because when we get lost in this search and build up all this pressure to find or achieve what we think will make us happy, we forget to enjoy life on the way, and enjoying life is just that what can help us find our happiness. And it might just keep us from seeing the opportunities that are right in front of us.