What do you do when you have the earth shattering realisation that you've been lied to your entire life?
That the life you have been living and striving towards was all smoke and mirrors?
That the life you thought you were living was a result of being sold that lie.
For me I had a few options.
Lie down and never get back up, get angry and want to watch the world burn, get up and move forward seeing the truth through the lies.
I did all three. But I bet you are wondering what the lie was, that rocked my world so deeply.
It's a lie we all believe. It has many names but ultimately its the lie that has us believe that the aim of life is to be happy...and my word is it a complex one because there are all these things you have to do to get it.
Unwittingly we each pass this lie on to our children and children's children. When parents are asked their one wish for their newborn child, they overwhelming reply that they just want their child to be happy.
And with that happiness programme in place, it naturally stands that anything other than happy is bad, needs fixing, means something is wrong.
Yet those very kids everyone just wants to be happy, are absolute legends at showing every range of emotion constantly, as well as conflicting one's at the same time!
That's because happiness isn't a destination, it's a moment. Moments make up minutes and hours and days and months and years and not every one of those moments will be happy.
But Nici, this is a pretty depressing blog, can't you be a little more upbeat/high vibe/positive?
Contrary to what you've been told and frankly, sold for years- Happiness is not the gold fleece of emotions and constantly seeking it or thinking something is wrong with you for not being happy all the time has a huge detrimental effect on your health.
We humans have an entire range of emotions and happy is just one of them, angry is another, sad is another, there are actually tonnes! And then there are feelings too- because we are made to feel, experience and grow. Our emotions and feelings help us to do that, they all serve a purpose.
Every single person on this planet experiences difficulties, pain, grief, illness, injustice, loneliness, joy, happiness, excitement, inspiration, connection and more.
To experience only one of those is impossible.
You see, to connect comes with the risk of loss.
To be excited comes with the risk of disappointment.
To feel joy comes at the risk of grief
If you only wanted happiness you could not live a full life at all, because every experience has two or more sides and not all of them will be without suffering. But you know what? That's what makes them worth it. That's what makes life worth living.
If I knew in advance my father would pass away when I was so young and cause such pain and grief, would I have avoided the beautiful relationship I had with him? Not a chance.
Because every pang of pain I feel is because I was connected to him and because I feel joy and sadness in equal measure.
If I knew that the puppy I rescued would have to be rehomed, would I have never got him? Not a chance.
Because the sadness I felt was because I was connected to him.
Without connection to something other than myself, without that risk and inevitable pain, happiness could not have been felt, however fleetingly or permanent it felt at the time.
So if happiness is not the aim, what is?
Many of my clients come to me confused, overwhelmed, sad and angry that life isn't going the way they were sold it should be.
But very few of them mention wanting to be happy. What they want instead is to feel more balanced, more able to cope, calmer, content, stable, to have more clarity and feel in control.
For me, I think the aim is simply to live as authentically 'you' as possible and with that, to allow yourself to be human. That means experiencing all the emotions, all the feels, all the ups and downs and to live them as honestly as you can in that moment.
Because life is a series of moments. Some will be happy, some will be sad, some will be easy, some will be hard- but all of them? Are worth it.
To help you ditch the happiness programme I have a tip:
Pick a day, any day in the next week and endeavour to notice how many different emotions and feelings you go through on just that day. Notice how quickly or slowly each passes, notice how they feel in your body, notice your thoughts.