Sunday 6 April 2014

The pursuit of happiness

I'm a huge fan of inspirational quotes. There is an entire board on my Pinterest dedicated to it, and I like to go there from time to time and soak all the wise words in.

If someone were to ask me what my goal in life is, I think the answer is: the pursuit of happiness. The majority of my board is dedicated to it. Since this is the theme of my life (my personal mission statement, if you will) I can't help but assume that everybody else is in search of the same thing.

The concept of happiness is endlessly fascinating to me. What makes people happy? Is it very different for different people, or do we all want the same things at the end of the day? How come some people are never happy?

What worries me about our modern day and age is the emphasis on seeming perfection. We are supposed to strive for perfect faces, bodies, houses, relationships, careers, lives. Which is, of course, absolutely impossible.
But the illusion is everywhere. And we can't just blame it on the media and Hollywood alone. We are guilty of it as well.
Facebook was the first culprit. You would scroll through your newsfeed and all you would see are the happiest moments of people's lives: announcements of new jobs, engagements, pregnancies, weddings. Photos (edited and filtered) of vacations. Photos of "fun nights out!", where hours were spent beforehand to get dressed up, made up and hair did, just to get the comments of how pretty you are.

How do I know? Why, I have done it myself.
In the past I have based decisions on what it would look like to the outside. Have gone to events I had no interest in, just because I knew there would most likely photos been taken, posted on social media, and I would look like I have a fun, cool life.

Friends, I was so stupid! I was so insecure in myself, that I thought I had to look "normal", do things that other people deem as fun, but that were not fun for me.
Do you think it made me happy?
You know what it made me feel? Like a fraud. A big, fat liar. I felt empty and hollow in myself, and ashamed to be part of the big, fake conspiracy. People would look at my picture, maybe envy me for all the fun I'm having, when in reality I was miserable.

Realizing that was the first step, and it took me a while. After I had come to the conclusion that I want to be a fraud no more, it took me another long time to find a way out of it.
You know what really helped me? Distancing myself from the people that had a toxic influence in my life. They may not even know how they affected me, maybe it was unintentional.

The next step was soul-searching. What really helped me do that was starting this blog.

I also started gravitating more towards people that are honest and say it as it is. They are my fave people in the world! The ones that don't give a damn what other people think of them. They show their real face to the world, flaws, quirks and everything.

And that, I believe, is the secret to happiness

You have to be true to yourself. To the person you are. Not the person you think you are supposed to be.

It is not always easy. Some people have a strong sense of themselves, and know instinctively what makes them happy.
Others aren't as lucky. I didn't know for a very long time, which is why I feel so strongly about this.
It was as if I didn't have self-awareness. I was doing a lot of things I was supposed to do (or thought I was supposed to do): playing musical instruments, going clubbing, watching the popular movies that everybody loved, but that I didn't like. "Hanging out with friends".
I love quality time with the people I care about. But I want to do something. I like to invite friends for something specific: for dinner, or a walk, to go to the movies, go shopping  - whatever. The popular phrase to "hang out" always makes me feel unsure - what are we supposed to do?
That's probably just me, but that's how I feel about it! There, I said it.

I like to make fires. I like to walk by myself, dog by my side, story in my ears. I like to take pictures of animals and nature. And my outfits. I like to go out for meals with my husband or friends. I like honest conversation. Hours spent in front of the computer. Roadtrips. Shopping for clothes. Books, and quite often chick lit, not the serious stuff. Re-runs of the same shows, over and over: Friends, Sex and the City, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Frasier.
I like to dream, a lot, all the time.

Things I don't like: make-up, cruises, all-inclusive, crowds, clubs, too much talk about kids, anything designer, all the popular TV shows (I will never watch The walking dead), most of the popular movies, gyms, fake nails, botox, drama, lies, arrogance, pretense.

Don't believe what the outside world is trying to convince you will make you happy.
One thing I know for sure: The hunt for perfection certainly won't. Because you can never win.
There will always be people who are better at faking it, so keeping up with the Joneses is a hamster wheel that never stops.
It will leave you exhausted, and sad, and decidedly unhappy. Jump off it now!

I love my social media, you probably figured that out. Instagram and Pinterest are my faves, they have given me many many hours of pleasure and entertainment. Which may seem ironic since Pinterest could be called the biggest fraud of them all: the things you see on there are impossibly beautiful and perfect.
But I think I figured out the way to enjoy it without getting the urge to compete:
You have to realize that it is not reality. I regard the images as art, or fairy tales: beautiful to look at, but not real.
And that makes them so enjoyable to me. I like looking at beauty: in nature, animals, fashion, people.

But when it comes to my own life, I want to show it as it is. With all the messiness, pain, doubts and imperfections. That's what this blog is for: to show you the full picture, not only the happy parts.

In doing so I have discovered a surprising truth: there is freedom and joy in honesty! Pretending is so exhausting. Keeping up that mask is hard work, because you are always afraid that it may slip and people get to see the real you.
Once the mask is off, a huge load comes off your shoulders.

Have you figured out what makes you happy?

Happy Sunday!

xo Miriam

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  1. I no longer blog myself and so very rarely leave comments on posts, but I had to let you know that your blog is one of my favorites to read. I find myself nodding along with every insightful post--almost all of them really resonate with me in some way. Plus I love the animal pictures :) Keep up the wonderful writing!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Phoebe, they mean a lot to me!
      It is so nice to get such wonderful feedback. Thank you with all my heart.

  2. Ahhhhh this post is the best I've read in a looonng time. I LOVE it.
    Never a truer word has been spoken and I share alot of the things that make you happy.

    I hate alcohol (havent drank in over 3 years) loudness and parties and I love long walks in the countryside with my dog, obviously photographing nature and roadtrips (when I have a car).

    Everyone should read this.


  3. I've never been more comfortable in my skin than I am now. I've never felt more loved than I've felt for being MYSELF. That's what makes me happy. :)

  4. Sing it, sista!! I was on that boat, floating to who knows where...or sinking, rather? It's so much more enjoyable to fill your time with things and people and musings that you love. I love meeting quirky people who don't fit a certain mold, because that's the real stuff in life... and a big part of why I love reading your blog! Cheers to a wonderful week!

  5. You and I are kindred spirits, my friend. :) I have actually stopped posting {most} things to Facebook because I realized that I was only doing to show how much FUN I am having. Who cares how many likes a picture gets? I am not a competitive person really, but I found myself comparing myself to friends and I don't know what was worse - when I felt like I was "better" or when I felt like I was "falling short".

    Let's hang out someday and go on walks and watch reruns of Friends and SATC! Love it!


  6. Love this!!! Yes, Yes, Yes to this "I also started gravitating more towards people that are honest and say it as it is. They are my fave people in the world! The ones that don't give a damn what other people think of them. They show their real face to the world, flaws, quirks and everything." I love the tell it like it is folks and just being real, my favorite people are those that are genuine! Another great post Miriam!
    (sorry I'm a bit behind on reading so you get lots of comments today!)

  7. At almost 30 years old, I am finally figuring out what makes me truly happy. My life is stable and I am figuring out that whole "confidence" thing :) Great post, some awesome reminders in here to stay focused on things that actually matter, not the fake stuff we are bombarded with in our society!

  8. i really like this post. i am in the 'pursuit phase' for quite some time now, but i find it hard. it's hard telling your friends you don't want to hang out and go clubbing anymore, especially when you notice that's the only thing that's keeping you together. it's also hard to be constantly aware of what others think of you and don't care about it. but i try and i hope i will someday be able to write a post like this too :)

  9. Ahhh yes! All I can say is yes to this post. I have literally been saying 'Yes, yes!' throughout the whole thing. It's too hard to make people happy, and it's too hard to be anyone but yourself. And the thing that I'm starting to realize is that life is freakin' messy! And that's just the way it is. I'm learning to silence my inner compulsions for everything to be perfect, and realize that beauty can live in disaster as well. Great read!


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