As I’m writing this I’m listening to one of my favourite bands Matchbox Twenty, I love Rob Thomas’s voice and the lyrics to their songs always resonate with me and at the moment I’m listening to 3am, the song makes me think about happiness and what it means and takes to be happy. I’ve been reading some books by Andy Cope and Gavin Ottes for work, they’ve helped me develop my leadership skills and ways of trying to support staff in being positive and happy in their roles, but a lot of their writing resonates with my personal life. They talk about happiness not being a goal or something to aim for and wait to happen or achieve, it’s something to experience, it’s something to choose to start doing. Don’t wait to be happy, start doing it is what the two ex-teachers now life coaches suggest.
You see, I’m partly writing this because I’m full s**t, I’ve read the books mentioned above for work and am applying them to my professional life but not my personal. In fact, of recent I’ve lost my way a little, or as I said to the Head in my line management meeting, my mojo. I’m a reflective and thoughtful person, I’m philosophical and I’m good at the people stuff, I’m good at supporting the emotions of others and I’ve spent a lot of time since losing Poppa M and becoming a single mum reflecting, using this blog as an outlet and channel for my thoughts but….it’s all bull, I’m not necessarily applying it to my life and as my GBF reminded me this morning, “you worry about what people think L, even though you try pretend you don’t.” which I do, I write this as if I don’t care but deep down a lot of times I do. But I need to stop, I need to start focusing on being happy now and forgetting others opinions.
I need to stop with the, “when I…” because all I’m doing is chasing another goal, and as much as it’s important to have goals to aim for, to strive and work towards, the journey and experience of getting them plays an integral part. It’s the experience of getting there that should be what makes you happy as well as the achievement of them. So instead saying that I’ll be happy when I have x, y or z, I need to focus on being enjoying what I’m doing to get there.
I also (and a lot of us do) need to stop making our goals what society expects us to want. We surround ourselves with society’s stereotypical ideals, the nice house, car on the drive, annual holiday, 2 point 4 family with a dog spending Christmas sat round the table drinking port whilst pulling crackers and playing scrabble. Who’s to say that’s what we all want and what will make us all happy? Who’s to say that we have to stick to the social norm? I already don’t fit the traditional bill (what even is that nowadays anyway?) I’m not your traditional housewife, I’m an almost divorced, career driven, cheesy musical loving, wannabe ballerina with a mini me sidekick that drives me up the wall but melts my heart at the same time. I’ve been broken and bruised and like to think that I’ve come out on top but I do have a wobble once in awhile. So why chase the 1950’s dream, the picture perfect, DFS advert of what family life is like when actually, no one’s life is like that. Why chase anything at all? Why not just live for the here and now and take enjoyment out of what is happening at this moment in time? I’m not saying don’t be ambitious, I don’t think I could ever not be if I tried, but I’ve got to enjoy the process of ambition, not just the end achievement, because in reality that’s not enough. Take my MA for example, I was so happy to achieve that and graduated in absolute bliss, but I also thoroughly enjoyed studying it, I genuinely liked it (yes even the late night word count cut downs 🙈) and now I’m doing my NPQSL and I’ve toyed with the idea of completing a Doctorate (EdD). I once just strove to be a qualified teacher and now I’m a Curriculum Leader pushing for more and more. It’s all good doing this but it cannot be at the expense of enjoying the role I’m in now. It has to be a healthy push forward.
It’s a bit like my marriage, I was so unhappy and striving for happiness that I couldn’t see the bad situation I was in. I was so focused on reaching goals that would fix things and make us happy that I couldn’t see what the real solution was – leaving. I was so eager to be happy that it compromised my happiness, self respect and confidence. Now I’m in a completely different situation but I’m sometimes still allowing that experience to influence two things, my current happiness and my future goals, my future ideals. Do I really need to focus on what exact future I want for me and toddler P, or can I look at just focusing on being happy now and doing what we need to do to be happy now, as individuals as well as mother and daughter. At the end of the day we don’t know what the future holds and can only shape it to a certain extent, the rest is up to whatever life throws at you.
Being happy also means not focusing on anything too big, keep it to the important stuff, the small things, like a new pair of ballet shoes, swinging on the swings, singing loud in the car, a new flavour of gin or bouncing on the bed with a two year old. It’s snuggling in front of the fire watching your favourite boxset. It’s enjoying what’s happening for what it is. The small things later become the big things, the memories that you hold. I went to my usual ballet class last night and for the first time in a long time I let myself fully enjoy it, I’ve not done it for awhile. I’ve had fun, but I’ve also had the “when I” mindset, thinking that when I lost more weight, when I got new better fitting pointe shoes, when I knew the syallbus better etc etc I’d enjoy it more. Fact is, I just need to let myself have fun, so last night I did and in actual fact, I danced better as a result, even if I did cock up the petit batterie exercise and lose my spot on the pas de bourrees. I had fun and I laughed, I laughed with some of my oldest and closest life long friends in my safe place. I let myself be happy and enjoy.
My final happiness comment is stop relying on someone else to create and fix your happiness. The only person responsible for your own happiness is you. Others can contribute to it, big style but they are not responsible, you are. I also made this mistake in my marriage, I allowed someone else control over my emotions, I was yearning for them to be something I wanted them to be and for them to make me happy and good about myself. A massive step forward I made when I left was taking back the control over my own life, happiness and self esteem. I’m not fully there yet but I’ve come a hell of a long way, I’m building a life for myself, as well as a life for me and toddler P (yes the two are different) and I’m focusing more on more and having fun. I probably need to work more on relaxing, going with the flow and letting people in to help me, I need to allow more people to contribute to my life, fun and happiness but I’m becoming more aware of that and with a little help from people around me I’ll get there. What’s important is that I’m definitely making the most of life, I’ve got more of my spark and spontaneity back and I’m past the stage of survival post spilt and working on the living my life stage. It’s a bit like Morgan Freeman’s character in Shawshank when he says, “get busy living or get busy dying” you’ve got to live and be happy, it won’t just happen and no one else can do it for you. Only you can control and you’ve got to put yourself in that mindset.
In the words of Rob Thomas, happiness isn’t a mat that sits in the doorway. It’s something you’ve got to choose to be, you’ve got to decide to be happy and make yourself happy.