The word ‘true’ feels important to me as a I read this quote. And I believe it could be replaced with the word ‘Authentic’- Authentic happiness. Authentic joy. Authentic inner peace.
I spent years and years searching for happiness, joy and peace. Outside of myself. It is still my go-to place to look. I will often, automatically, look for it in other people, in other places, in other things. And for sure I have had some wonderful experiences this way. Great experiences and trips away, great conversations with other people, a beautiful new piece of clothing or furniture which I enjoy. All things that can give me a sense of happiness or joy, but usually fleetingly.
I remember reading Dr Martin Seligman’s work and learning about the difference between having a ‘good life’ an ‘engaged life’ and a ‘meaningful life’. A good life being one of experiences and a focus on things outside of myself. A new pair of shoes, a new house, a new car, a holiday, but his research showed, while great in the moment, these things do not lead to sustainable satisfaction, happiness and joy. They need to be continually replaced by another ‘new’ thing or experience. Whereas a focus on living an ‘engaged life’ and a ‘meaningful life’ led to long term and more sustainable happiness. An engaged life being one where we know our strengths and values and live a life where we are in congruence with these. A meaningful life takes it one step further. Where we live a life aligned with our strength’s and values and also in services of something greater than ourselves – whatever that may be – perhaps our family, community, the environment or an organisation.
To live either an engaged or meaningful life, to find true happiness, true joy, and true inner-peace we have to start our quest by looking in the mirror, by knowing who we are, by getting clear on our values, strengths, purpose and passions. What brings us alive. What feels important to us to be in service too. We need to understand ourselves and just as importantly we need to learn to love and genuinely care for ourselves.
And what a journey this has been for me. A transformative, albeit at times very painful journey to really get to know myself, to really learn to care about myself. To start to live an authentic and meaningful life. To start to experience true happiness, true joy and a sense of true inner peace. And in my own personal experience it all begins with Compassionate Self-Awareness.
With great warmth