‘Could you tell us what makes you happy on video? You’ve got twelve seconds,’ the editors of a website asked me, after doing an interview with me. The ultimate existential question, answered in a soundbite – what was I waiting for? I took a breath and told them what makes me happy: realising that I don’t have to be happy all the time.
If you see all the shitty moments and painful emotions in life as an obstacle for the happiness you deserve, you’re about to have a hard time. Escaping or erasing the things in life that are less pleasant, is a race you won’t win. Besides, it’s extremely tiresome. Instead, try to include everything in your definition of a happy existence. I accept the bitter with the sweet, boredom with ecstasy, pain with pleasure. And I try to do so without shame, remorse, victimisation or rushing.
The art of living is not about optimising the circumstances for happiness, but embracing life under all circumstances. To put it boldly: sometimes it sucks. And that’s fine. You can still feel blessed, regardless of everything that bothers you.
Just be where you are. That’s what I would want to tell every stubborn fortune hunter. Don’t try to be better, happier, more optimistic, more balanced than you are right now. It allows you to relax and let go of everything that’s forced or fake in your attitude towards yourself and others. Your shoulders will lower. You don’t have to pretend anymore. Simply let go of the task to be happy and see what happens.
This ‘being where you are’ is an attitude that brings you more serenity than the ‘I need to be happy’ attitude. Life consists of inevitable heartbreaking setbacks, even if you’ve got your act together. It’s unpredictable. Without resistance and rejection, it’s better to handle it. You know you’re not a victim of life, you’re a participant of life.
Once you’re able to feel comfortable when you’re down, or when there’s a setback, you’re open to life. And as soon as you’re open to life, happiness will strike you in all kinds of big and little things.
Text: Susan Smit – Photo: Kyle Loftus
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