Cultivating Happiness and Abundance

I’ve been quiet lately, enjoying some solitude and some serious contemplation. Aside from paying off debt and trying to get my financial life in order (just dropped $800 on my debt!), I’m very much interested in pursuing happiness.

Not the ecstatic, fake, overly joyous kind. The kind that sits pretty underneath a calm exterior. The kind of happiness that deals with stressful issues, and maintains composure. The kind of happiness that comes deep from within, and exudes abundance.

I mentioned a few months ago that I read the Geography of Bliss, a fantastic book about a man on a journey to find the happiest place on earth (hint: it’s not Disneyland). I found it so fascinating to read about other cultures, other lifestyles and the pursuit of happiness. In the author’s research, he found out that money does play a role in happiness, but not as much as we thought. His research suggests that happiness rises with wealth, and then levels off at about $15,000. That’s crazy to think about. I’d really like to know the details of this research. Does this include people in debt? I made 20k last year, and while my needs were covered, I had some fun, and continued to pay off debt, I do believe I would be much happier if I made more money. I’d feel more secure, I’d be happy with paying off more debt, my money could work for me, instead of feeling like a tool of shame and guilt.

But enough about money and happiness. I’m really interested in finding that deep core within myself, that inner peace and strength to deal with anything. Last year, when I first moved to Portland, I was miserable. I felt like I worked hard for nothing, and had nothing to show for it. My love and I were fighting because I resented being here. The weather got me down. Pretty much anything, minor to major depressed me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I sought low-cost counseling because there was a deep layer of depression within me, and a gray cloud perpetually hanging over me. I felt lost, confused, like nothing made sense. Where was the gregarious girl I used to be? I was finally with my partner, why couldn’t I be happy? My therapist concluded that my happiness was reliant on external factors, like finding the perfect job or making friends. Since that wasn’t happening, I was miserable. She asked me to forget about external factors (i.e. things I can’t control like people, jobs, shitty situations, the past) and asked me, “what makes you happy?”

I wanted to say my partner, but that would be cheating. If I had to forgo everything outside of myself and find the happiness within me, I didn’t know where to find it. We’ve been raised to think that happiness comes with the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect salary. We’ve been told that if you work hard enough, that all your dreams can come true. The fact of the matter is, none of that is true. Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you thought. Sometimes you made a decision that you thought was best at the time, but turned out to suck later. Sometimes relationships change, friends change, people change, you change. It’s hard to keep up and I’ve realized you need a strong sense of self, to get through all the muck.

After thinking hard, I realized reading, writing and creating makes me happy. Giving back, volunteering and learning makes me happy. But I realize, the lines blur with finding happiness within ourselves and finding it with others. We do not live in a bubble. We are not insular beings. We crave human affection, conversation, etc.

In the past year, I’ve made leaps and bounds towards defining happiness for myself, by myself. I’m creating more boundaries and learning to say ‘no’ to things that don’t serve me. I am exercising more, meditating and making an effort to create happiness. I find this particularly interesting, because nothing drastic has changed. Yes, I do have some more friends, I have this blog, and I am feeling more settled in Portland. But for now, I am still at the seasonal job that is coming to an end. I am still without health insurance. I still have my love, and we’ve grown together through my own rough patch.

I am wondering, how do you find happiness for yourself? What are some happiness habits you have? I know some people are lucky enough to wake up and feel happy, to see the best in things. I admire those people and strive to be more like them, knowing that I could never quite be like that. For me, happiness isn’t easy. Happiness means accepting that everything is ok. It goes against my worrying nature. Happiness feels vulnerable, way more than my depression. Depression is a form of armor, worn by those who are scared to face the world in all its glory.

As I get older, I want to create a life where my mental, emotional, physical and financial lives are all in order. I want to create a life of abundance. I don’t necessarily believe in The Secret or think that positive thinking will change everything, but I know it can’t hurt. I know that if it makes me feel better, that it does have the possibility of changing my life and changing the world. I want to create a state of abundance, happiness, and joy.

A sense that everything is enough.

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8 responses to “Cultivating Happiness and Abundance

  1. Great post! I don’t know where that guy did his research either because $15k is very low! I read it before somewhere between 52k & 72k, which makes a lot more sense, not matter where you live. I have to work at happiness because I think my natural baseline is really low. I take after my “dark man” dad who has a doom and gloom personality, so I think I fight it constantly. I think as I’ve gotten older I just naturally have learned to appreciate things more. I’ve read a lot on the subject like you and have watched a million documentaries (have you seen “I Am?” Great doc! I try to believe in love an compassion, and again as I’ve gotten older I’m less “angry with the world” like I was in my 20’s, although I do find myself quick to anger when technology fails me. lol! I think for me it’s been a slow journey. I do believe having a financially stable life does make one happier. It’s just a very big source of stress if you don’t have enough to cover things like rent and the bills, or of you not having health insurance, or people with a lot of debt.

  2. I agree, I am getting better as I mature. Depression runs in my family, so sometimes my fight is genetic, and other times circumstantial. I think enjoying the simple things and expressing gratitude really help!

  3. Positive thinking plays an important role in happiness but it’s kind of like a diet, where you have to be committed to make a lifestyle change or you sink back into old habits. Every few years I find myself rereading Mindful Loving by Henry Grayson and for a while I feel happy. But then life happens and I sink back into being a stressed out pessimist. Just have to find a way to stick to it and figure out what works for you.

    • You are so right! I am glad you mentioned that, it’s like a diet…you are good for a while, then you creep back into old habits. I find myself on a positivity kick, then something will happen and I’ll go back to being pessimistic. I want to stop or delay that process. Create better happiness habits. I’ll have to check out that book, sounds interesting.

    • Oh yay, the same things make us happy! I think happiness can require some discipline, but is definitely doable. Making a commitment to doing those things that make you happy, and letting go of the rest.

  4. I know that I am my own biggest enemy to my happiness. I don’t think that we can FIND happiness. Instead, we can only BE or not be happy. I’ve found that I’m happiest not when I’m pursuing something that I believe will make me happy, but when I simply accept my current situation, whatever it may be.

    • You are so right, I think acceptance is a large part of it. Just accepting the way things are, not how you want them to be, or thought they were going to be. Just being in the moment and not judging it and making the best of it.

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