We live surrounded by customized experiences: souvenirs, cars, travel itineraries, Santa Claus greetings, ads. We pay thousands of dollars customizing clothes for us, the kids and the pets. We want everything to fit our preferences, our realities, and our life.
Our identities are rooted in what represents us as individuals and we talk often about the things that makes us different from others, how we “stand out” from the crowd.
Yet, there is an aspect of many people’s lives that stays rooted in traditions and is transmitted one generation after another. Year go by, technology makes our days fast-paced, we see how the youngest grow and change…But “Happiness” seems to be static, defined by the same parameters forever.
Let’s say you’re a 40-year-old female, independent, single, professionally fulfilled and with an active social life. You get home after an afternoon with your family and you go straight to the mirror to ask yourself the exact same questions your aunt asked a few hours ago:
- Why am I alone?
- Why has nobody asked me to marry him?
- Will I ever have kids?
- Am I unlovable?
Yes, most of your friends might be married, have big families and adopt two adorable golden retrievers. Yes, some of them also have a fabulous car and, even though they seem a bit stressed, they claim to be happy. I know some of my friends are!
But is this my definition of happiness? Do I need what they have to feel fulfilled as a woman?
We keep looking at others and taking hints of what could make us happy from their Instagram posts and Whatsapp updates. We believe that, if we could take that trip to the Maldives, or have that beautiful baby, or say yes to that wedding proposal, everything would be perfect. Maybe it comes down to having a partner our parents approve, or being able to buy the apartment with an insane view or the red sexy car.
This might make you happy, or you, or you, but at least for me, those are not happiness goals. I know I’d be happier just by finally meditating twice a day, flying to the US to visit my best friend and losing a few kilos.
To be completely honest, I did an exercise with a few friends and this is what I found out: my 5 foundations of happiness are: to be of service to others; to have freedom; to find and consolidate a community of strong and supportive women; to be healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually) and to establish true human connections.
If I were to put this in superficial terms, I could say I want a job that allows me to help others, pays enough to feel free, have good friends and stay in good shape, holistically speaking. But this goes far beyond.
Think about what makes you truly happy, about those moments / situations / people that lift your spirit and help you energize when things aren’t going so well. Remember when you have enjoyed something so much that time was not an issue. You can also think about circumstances when you realized that broken arm, or the flu, or a surgery pulled you away from what you love doing the most.
I believe health is a key factor in happiness and we only notice it after going through some period of time when we need to stay in full rest or work our way to recovery.
Most of the time, when I think about customizing my happiness experience, I see that even though my foundations involve others, they don’t depend on them, they depend on me. I am the key factor in making those things happen: connections, community, service… If I don’t actively work on that, I’ll never be able to find people who join me on those journeys.
So, what are your 5 happiness foundations?