What does happiness mean to you?

It’s a genuine question. Not just a title.

I’ve just seen an advert on the TV which opened with this line- “What does happiness mean to you?” 

It got me thinking- how can that question be so hard? Why does this crazy world with its bills, deadlines, work and stresses mean that such a tiny little question is so difficult to answer? For me, the meaning of happiness has changed throughout my whole life.

As a child, happiness meant getting a lead part in a school show, being the best in my dance class, getting the highest grades. As I grew into adolescence, it meant having a good group of friends, a boyfriend, a university plan. Now that I’m coming to the end of my education, I can’t seem to find what it means anymore. 

I go between happiness=successful career one day to happiness=travelling the world and feeling content the next day. Money is key to happiness in one thought whilst it has no relation to it in the next. 

So. How do you discover what happiness means to you? Is it the success, the career, the education and grades? Is it travelling the world, not caring where your next meal comes from? Is it having someone to love and knowing they love you equally and always? Or is it just not caring? Living life as it goes along, one step at a time.

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Week Seven: The Fear of Asking

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My journey of learning to be a child seems to be taking a different turn. Recently, it’s been less about doing childish materialistic things (because, let’s face it, turning up at a kid’s theme park on your own or hogging the climbing frame at a park is not exactly right- it’s why those places are for kids) and more about re-learning the actual lessons you’re taught as a child but often forgot the importance of in adulthood.

This week I learnt one of those incredibly important lessons- to ask for help.

There has been or will be times in everyone’s life when they need to ask for help, whether that be in their personal, emotional, financial or work life. As adults we’re very good at doing the exact opposite. Trying to deal with it all on our own “because we can”, because we’re grown-up and responsible enough to not need anyone’s helping hand.

But maybe the answer to whatever problem we are experiencing, cannot be dealt with on our own. As children we know when to ask parents or friends, teachers or classmates for help. We know not to struggle on our own when that extra hand could give us the last push we need in completing a task or understanding a concept. So why do we think it is any different in adulthood?

We’re older, true.

We’ve learnt more, true.

We know everything, false.

We are superhumans who can deal with everything, false.

We are perfect, false.

This week has taught me just that- we are neither superhumans or perfect beings and asking for help is not a sign of weakness nor a sign of irresponsibility in our own lives. No, it is quite the opposite. It is a sign of strength, of intelligence, of responsibility. So next time you are struggling with something, whether it be trivial or serious, personal or professional, ASK.

Ask for that helping hand, because nine times out of ten it’ll be right there reaching out to you.

Daily Prompt: All Grown Up. But too early?

I can’t remember the first time I felt grown up because I chose to live my childhood in a way that was as grown up as possible. It was great at the time- I felt responsible and independent. But as I truly grew up (in the sense of physically reaching ‘adult’ ages), I felt like my growing up had already been done. So I wanted to ‘grow down’ if that could ever be a phrase!

And that’s why this blog exists. To document my journey to not be “all grown up” but, instead, to find a way of seeking the childhood part of my life that I sometimes missed the first time round.

Maybe some of you can remember growing up when you first bought a car or a house, first got a full-time job or got married. But for me I think some of these milestones that I haven’t reached yet, will pass by without this sense of ‘growing up’ because I’ve felt that way already for as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s a good thing- I won’t be too overwhelmed or be tempted to run away from such things because I feel partly prepared already.

But maybe some of the fun in taking these steps lies in the ‘change factor’. The idea that parts of your childhood are changing into adulthood and this change adds excitement, anticipation and a sense of achievement. So if I’ve skipped the childhood part already then could I be risking missing out on the excitement of this change into adulthood? Maybe. Which makes my journey to be a child again all the more important.

Are children better dreamers than ourselves?

Fulfilling this week’s lesson in learning to be a child has really made me think about the bigger picture of where this is all going. I wanted to do child-like things as a way of learning about myself. But why do I need to learn about myself?

I don’t think I really realised the truth that lay behind this until today and that is that by learning about myself, I hope I can realise what I truly want from my life and what I truly want to achieve.

Because, in all honesty, I don’t have a clue.

Adult life gets so complicated, so busy, that we very rarely step back and question what we’re doing and what we want. This is the most important step in following our dreams, truly and honestly discovering what they are.

No, I don’t know what they are yet. But maybe my inner child does…

“And they lived happily ever after.”

 

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Happily ever after is like beauty. It lives in the eye of the beholder.

A homeless man offered a permanent shelter believes he is living happily ever after. A popstar whose offered a million pound contract believes they’re living their happily ever after.

But am I?

No I am not.

What do I need to do to get there?

I have no idea.

My biggest fear is not thati’ll never achieve my own happily ever after, but that I won’t see it when I find it. I don’t know what I want my happily ever after to be because I don’t truly know what my dreams are. Maybe this is all part of what I am blogging about at the moment, not having lived my childhood as a child means not being able to dream as a child which in turn means picturing my childhood fantasy happily ever after is impossible.

I hope that if I find my inner child, I can find my inner dreams.

So when my happily ever after comes along, I won’t be blind to what’s right before my eyes.

Week Two: Sweetie time!

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Week Two: Sweetie time!

There’s nothing like a trip to a seaside arcade to fulfil week two’s objective of learning to be a child. I’m quickly learning though that it may be easy to do child-like things but it’s going to be a lot harder truly learning to be a child, to think like a child. Adult: “This ten pound note could add to the food shopping budget”. Child: “Wow, ten pounds!! How many sweets can I win with this?!” So I changed the note, forgot the money value and threw all that anxious energy into winning some refreshers!
So lots of pounds turned into pennies turned into tickets. Exchanged for this little lot…

The smile of a gentleman

It’s funny, reflecting and changing can do a lot. Like today. A comment on this blog spoke of maintaining your inner child no matter what your age. And I saw a gentleman today whose done just that.

He was elderly and yet when he looked at his wife, I saw a smitten seventeen year old. And it made me wonder, do some of us never grow up? Do some of us forget our childhood before we’ve even lived it?

Life is short. We all know that. Every time we turn on the TV or open the newspaper, there are more stories of the harsh realities of the adult world.

So why do we rush the world of youth and childhood?

Why did I rush it? Everything grown up was exciting, independent and it opened up all the opportunities I’ve ever dreamed of so I wished my childhood away like so many of us do when we reach the teenage phase. Adulthood is this adventurous, golden goal where we can ditch our parents and start our own lives. And yes the opportunities are endless when we reach that magical age of 18.

But what use are opportunities if our minds are too ‘grown up’ to truly see them? Shouldn’t we all take a step back, stop reading articles of debt, stop (just for a second) worrying about bills and other ‘adult’ things we so wished to be able to worry about in our childhood? Shouldn’t we take that step back and not just praise those who grew up too fast to earn the money, speed through life at a crazy pace in the office and look instead towards the affectionately smiling elderly gentlemen like the one I saw today?

Why not praise him for doing one of the hardest things I think possible? Not working 24/7 at the office, not becoming the next rich entrepreneur. But making it all the way through life to an older age and still looking at his wife like he did when he was a teenager.

Yes, I know praise is due to those who have worked hard to make fortunes and grown up quick to do so. But let’s not forget those who have done something I can only dream of being successful at- maintaining that youth throughout my life, maintaining that childhood.

Sometimes when we are young, we feel being an adult means we will be able to think more clearly and in a ‘grown up’ fashion.

But what if the most clear way of thinking is by thinking through the mind of a child when the daily grind has not clouded our vision, the daily news of turmoil has not dampened our spirit and our dreams for the future have not been filed behind our gas bill?

That is the clearest way to think and I only dream of achieving it one day.