Are you happy? If you’re not, why? Where is it? What is it that makes you happy? Why can it be so difficult to find or create happiness? These are questions I have asked myself and is something I continue to struggle with. I have done a lot of soul searching about this subject. If you could change one thing in your life to become a happier person — like your income, a job, your relationships or your health — what would make the biggest difference? According to the experts the most prominent is that people should invest in their relationships with other people!
I don’t feel like I have really been happy for a long time now. Yes, when I’m doing something with friends or family, those times can be happy. I’m talking about overall happiness, happy with my current life deep in my soul. More good things versus bad things. If I look back, I would say 2012 is the last time I felt really happy. Coincidentally that’s the year my health took a downturn. Things were going well before 2012, certainly not perfect but I had lots to be grateful and happy about. Karen and I were enjoying life together, I had friends and family, kids and grandkids to enjoy. I was working at the fire department. I was healthy and felt great. Most of the things in my life were going well and certainly outweighed any negative things. For all purposes I was very happy. Research suggests that our overall happiness with life may be strongly associated with our satisfaction with and quality of life. Quality of life is a phrase I have used often fighting through my ordeal. My quality of life has certainly declined in the past 10+ years.
So what happened? What was it that took my happiness away? Was it something sudden or did it take time to dissolve? Can I find happiness again? Can I just look under a rock, look behind a door or in the junk drawer?
To connect with my last blog, many days I fear I won’t be happy again and my quality of life will not get better. I think my happiness slowly eroded away as I struggled to find answers to my illness. When Karen passed away it really took a major hit. Now each and every day is physically and mentally challenging. I admit I still have a lot of internal anger with several things. I’m angry about getting sick, angry about losing Karen, angry I couldn’t keep working and retire on my terms. I feel cheated, left behind. Resolving this anger must be done before I can find happiness. Many of my hopes and dreams I’ve had, now are seemingly unreachable.
The following is from Psychology Today – Happiness | Psychology Today
Happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; researchers find that achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Genetic makeup, life circumstances,
achievements, marital status, social relationships, even your neighbors—all influence how happy you are. Or can be. So do individual ways of thinking and expressing feelings. Research shows that much of happiness is under personal control.
Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction. It isn’t happiness per se that promotes well-being, it’s the actual pursuit that’s key.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m complaining, I’m just trying to figure out how to regain some much-needed happiness in my life. I’m trying to do this while struggling with physical and mental challenges depression, anxiety and PTSD. I have tried multiple things including things I did prior to my illness and some new hobbies. I do not get on social media as much and have removed people who were very negative. I’ve read multiple articles and had suggestions from people. Doing things that include very much physical activity can still be a problem but I’m trying. Projects that require me to mentally focus are also a problem. I have a lot of “brain fog” for lack of better terms. I am also a very negative person towards myself. Although I’ve accomplished many good things in life, I feel like I have failed in many areas. Hindsight is 20/20 and I shouldn’t keep looking in the rearview mirror trying to move forward.
It says above, much of this is under personal control. So, I have to find things that I can personally do that promote happiness in my life. Maybe the key is finding more things to be grateful for. Studies have shown that being grateful can make you more optimistic, improve your mood, and even lower rates of stress and depression. I have to persuade my brain to focus on the good things no matter how small they may be. I have made progress in being more positive. Sometimes I just need to push myself a little harder even though it’s difficult and many times has consequences.
If you have read my blogs over the past 8+ years, you know my story and struggles. I know everyone has struggles and handles them differently. I share my story for others to know they are not alone in their battle with any illness. I have a lot of plans or goals this year, many carried over from last year. My bowel resection last April changed many of my plans. Writing is also therapy for me, my way to vent sometimes. I’m grateful I can use a computer and tell my story. So I’m going to keep writing, keep working on goals, keep myself mentally focused the best I can to find happiness. Fingers crossed!