When I began the research for this article, I thought it would be pretty easy. I mean everyone wants to be happy, right?
But happiness is such an individual thing, as unique to each of us like our fingerprints. We all know that friend who has to have that latest shoe or be seen at the hot new restaurant to be “happy”, while for some of us spending a day alone with a good book in our pajamas is bliss. How do you measure happiness? What role does culture, gender and demographics play into it?
I started reading about happiness and discovered lots of books and research on the subject. I realized as I was dutifully reading one such book, that it was not making me happy. The thing is, you can’t find happiness in a book or a shop, you have to look inside yourself and listen to your heart. It’s not as easy as it sounds as we navigate our relationships, work and this craziness we call life into the mix.
Like most of us, in my teenage years, I wanted to be independent from my parents and live in my own place with my own rules. Buying my first car at sixteen was the beginning of breaking away, enjoying the freedom to go where I wanted and when I wanted to. Of course, with freedom came the price of keeping the gas tank full and paying for the insurance and maintenance.
Lesson one: you have to pay some kind of price for happiness, and one that is not necessarily a monetary value.
The twenties are the blueprint stage when we try to figure out what we want to do in life and how we fit in. Again, I also remember setting goals like purchasing a boat and sailing to the South Pacific, desiring financial freedom and achieving career success, to name a few. My husband and I were fortunate. We made these goals a reality, but people critiqued our extended sailing trip to Tahiti because we chose not to settle down earlier with a mortgage and babies.