163: Happiness Is A Journey Not A Destination

How many times have you heard that classic line? And have you ever believed it? Even if we do believe it, don’t we secretly all want that end point so we know what we’re really dealing with and what we’re aiming for?

I used to think that everything was a destination. The pay check at the end of the month. The holiday at the end of summer. The interest on my savings at the end of the month. Each project I completed. Every item I sold in my shop. What about relationships? Well that’s a tricky one. I learned early on that things change fast, and you can’t rely on someone to stay the same. Because I never wanted to get married or have kids, getting the perfect (whatever that is) relationship didn’t seem like the end of anything, except perhaps splitting rent and utilities. I didn’t have that life goal and I aimed for partners who had the same mindset.

What I have learned more than anything now, as I’ve got older, is that there is no destination in life. The only true destination is the grave. Until you die, you just keep on going. Life is the unpredictable journey. Death is the only surefire destination. It’s not something I dwell on. So even when I complete something as monumental as finally publishing a book, or moving into a new home, that’s just another stepping stone on a seriously long and winding yellow brick road. It isn’t the end point of anything really.

Learning that your entire life is the journey (there is no happy ending no matter what the fairytales tell you) is a strong part of the happiness theme which keeps on coming up. This way you take every experience and every event as a part of that and know that it has a purpose. Lots of us KNOW there is more to life than the 9-5, to paying bills, to punching out a couple of kids and saying, yeah I did that one. I spend more of my time these days analysising whether what I do is actually making me happy. It’s the balance between pleasure and purpose. Do you have that balance or would you rather err on one side or the other? Having spent most of my life on the purpose side, but having loved my work (therefore it is also pleasure), I’ve now decided ‘screw that’ I want something more now. I just need to work out what to do with that new direction.

I realised a long time ago that I was not going to find happiness within the constructs of modern life. I am a square peg and there are no round holes I fit into. I am not obviously an outside, but I am an outsider, without a doubt. I used to question it and worry about it. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Even now, I know what where I live is not the last city I will live in, not by a long shot.

And no one gets me. Not really. No one really knows me. But I’m ok with that. I kid myself that I’m special rather than weird. That I just use a different operating system. But if you look closely at everyone else you might find more square pegs than you realise. It’s that we all think we have to conform, to have that facade. Well fuck that. Seriously.  Happiness runs far deeper than fitting in and putting notches on the bedpost.

I was always a rebellious child. I secretly delighted in never fitting in, though I should really have learned how to fake it as a survival tactic. But I am that lone wolf and the older I get the more it suits me and the more I just let it happen.

It wasn’t until May 2016 that I finally managed to ditch the shackles that made me unhappy (badly crafted relationships) and be who I wanted to be without having to feel guilty about it. But even before that, I’d realised that happiness does not lie in another person. It’s in you.  I read a very apt quote on Twitter once:

‘Relationships are your story – write well, and edit often.’

By divesting myself of those things which were holding me back and by looking at where the pitfalls were in my previous attempts at getting it right, I’ve been able to enjoy the journey entirely on my own terms and on a brand new page. I love where I am now. Single, not single, free within constraints, able, though often unmotivated, energised though procrastinating. I am still that lone wolf. That’s where I really found me and no one is going to take that away again.

I have very consciously built around me the life I now lead. It needs a little work, but it’s basically there and it didn’t just happen by accident. I don’t value materialism or social constructs in the same way most people seem to. I am not your average. In many ways I am unique, but in many other ways I am entirely average. I have no illusion about that. It may seem like I am floating around on the breeze wondering where I will settle next, but that is the joy I get from the journey. I don’t want everything mapped out ahead of me.

What comes next? Who knows. Let’s see where the tide takes me. But the way my life is now built at least allows me to seize opportunities as they come up. Being a ‘Yes Man’ is a good thing.

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