Lately, I have been thinking about how we measure our successes and how more often than we like to admit, our sense of fulfillment is linked to external validation. Heck, we even define success by someone else parameters most of the time even we are not intentional about it but that’s a discussion for another day. Today, I want to talk about this; I fear we are so much focused and invested in how it appears on the outside, how and where are we lacking and letting someone else down. Somehow along the way, when we are trying our best to be there for everyone and everything we tend to forget to check in with our selves. I feel this is the case, especially with women as we are conditioned and raised in a manner that suggests our lives are meant to be spent in the service of others. As much as I like to be of service, I tend to disagree with this version of raising our daughters. Being raised in this manner somehow teaches us that big dreams are not for us, in fact, even dreams are not for us, staying true to who we want to be in the world is not for us. We try our best to appear nice, mellowed down and to fit in wherever we possibly can. We grow up oh so afraid to take up space in the world. We end up being so involved in this set pattern and well-defined rules, well-rounded boxes that we forget to take a moment to look inside and ask ourselves, ‘how does it make us feel?’
When I was in my late teens, I had a very *serious* question going endlessly in my head that I kept asking everyone ever close to me, ‘What is happiness?’ How certain people feel happier than others? What is it that they are doing it differently? What is it about them that attracts more joy and happiness in their lives? I was curious and almost desperate to feel that way too. I even made a Pinterest board and named it, ‘Happiness’ just to remind myself of the things that bring happiness which for some mysterious reason I deleted some days ago. Maybe because I have outgrown the reason I made it in the first place. Before deleting going through it reminded me of the time it felt like a life savior and now it felt liberating to let go of it as I no longer needed it and it was not serving anymore who I have become over the years.
Over the years, I have learned that happiness and joy is something you choose. It is something sacred, something that comes from the inside when you make a choice to be happy. Happiness comes easily when you choose to prioritize joy and the things that bring you joy on a day to day basis. For some, it could be dreaming big and having the courage to change the world and for others, it could be simply just showing up and doing their best and not only living their life but growing and evolving and thriving as they go. By no means, I am suggesting that dreaming big is the only way to choose joy in our lives. All I am saying is, staying true to whatever our heart desires, how things make us feel and how we can want whatever the hell we want; be it a simple slow day with a good book in your hands or be it a creative business owner living her truth out loud and sharing and inspiring everyone she comes in contact with. It is your life and your version of life, happiness and fulfillment can look like whatever you want it to look like. I am talking about those unsaid expectations by society, family, and friends. I am referring to the unsaid need for having to ask for permission before we choose to do something a little differently.
I fear that choosing to prioritize fulfilling other’s expectations and not prioritizing joy can make us feel lost and scattered and sometimes can even make us feel like we are no one, unworthy of love and belonging; that unconditional love that every human being deserves we feel ourselves being deprived of it. Therefore, I believe, we need to focus more on what feels right and what brings us joy. Sometimes that could also mean living your life for others. Go for it if that’s what makes you happy. There is nothing bad in that but the only difference here is, you are choosing it because it is bringing you joy and not because it is expected of you. Another thought that has run across my mind countless times over the years is, ‘that person you are making sacrifices for – one day will turn around and tell you they didn’t ask you to.. and they’ll be right’.
I believe, it is okay to choose ‘joy’ as the compass of your life. Just asking the question of what makes you happy, really really happy and let the answer to this question guide your path will be a huge service to ourselves.
Here’s my encouragement for you, you are capable of so much more and you are allowed to live your life a little differently if that’s what your heart aches for. Every now and then, remember to not only ask yourself,
what makes you happy?
What brings your joy?
What lights you up?
But also, what absolutely drains you?
and what doesn’t make you happy?
Let Joy be the guiding light towards setting up the creative work and life you desire. Also, remember to check in once in a while on what feels right and what doesn’t.
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