Some say happiness is a choice.

Clearly it isn’t. Not if you’re clinically depressed, not if you’re a child that’s starving, not if you’ve suffered a bereavement.

Luckily none of these apply to me, so happiness is perhaps a choice for me. It’s a choice, for some reason, I’ve avoided  in my recent past. The potential for happiness is inside us and all round us; unfortunately so is the potential for unhappiness. I’ve often inexplicably chosen unhappiness and have recently started to explore the reasons why.

I came across a post on another blog that referenced a book by Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier. In it he states that people often think something or someone in the future will allow them to be happy. Or they blame circumstances of their past. Ben-Shahar says that people must live in the now and “rather than allowing ourselves to remain enslaved by our past or future we must learn to make the most of what is presently in front of us and all around us.”

Sounds familiar? It was to me, that scenario has so characterised my recent past. Events of the last couple of years, however, have driven me to greater self examination and I’ve become more conscious of my true self.  I’ve realised that when you stop blaming others and take responsibility for all the decisions in your life, you free yourself, and as a result allow yourself to be happier.

I know that I have also often compared myself to others and judged myself harshly as a failure. A better house, a better car, a better job, more fulfilling personal relationships, more money, a better life. It’s a vicious circle and just makes you unhappy.

I haven’t felt a success for such a long time. Why is that? I suspect it’s because I’m a perfectionist (not in all areas of my life obviously) and that no matter what I have or what I’ve achieved, it’s never been enough for me. Perfectionists, according to Ben-Shahar, reject reality and replace it with a fantasy world, a world in which there is no failure and no painful emotions and in which, their standards of success, no matter how unrealistic, can actually be met. Welcome to my world.

I wish I’d read ‘Happier’ years ago. My life is now much simpler than it was. I’m not wealthy, but I have more than enough money to live on, I don’t own a flashy car, I have a small economical one and I don’t own a house, but I do have a lovely quiet home to live in. There are things that are missing in my life, but they will happen when the time is right. For now what I have is more than enough.

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim