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Is It Possible to Be Truly Happy?

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Why Are So Many of Us Unhappy? 

We’re almost conditioned to count our problems instead of our blessings. We put a high rank on objects that in the end, leave us feeling emptier. We look around at what other people have and feel disappointed with our own accomplishments.

I’m happy to have reached my 49th birthday last month. I’m healthy, only visit the doctor for my yearly check-up, I don’t have any diseases, or take any medications. That should be enough to make anyone happy, right? But it’s not. Why? Many of us still suffer from “High School Syndrome.”

What is High School Syndrome?

Way back when, we stood up to our parents and told them who we were, what we wanted, and displayed total confidence. It was a constant struggle to prove that we were right and fight for our independence. We argued and grew a little more every day, demonstrated our abilities, until one day our parents gave us some slack (and the keys to their car!)

But we still had to face themThem being all our peers. Showing our parents was one thing, but showing everyone else in the school? Hard to do.

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We spent four years trying to prove to everyone that we were cool. That we had the best life, the best cars, the best parties. We competed with the popular group, who in turn wondered if they were really happy themselves. High school made some people feel really good about themselves, and others really bad. But we all wanted to fit it. We wanted to leave school every day knowing that we were a remarkable, talented and likable person that had many friends.

How come we had no trouble proving this to our parents and showing our confidence to them, but as adults we still struggle with this?

Fast forward to Grown-up Land

Many of us have not outgrown this. Some feel the need to venture into financial ruin just to impress their friends and family by purchasing things to make believe they’re someone they’re not. Some lie and fabricate stories to pretend their lives are perfect. We desperately still want to be liked. Some feel that liked means being perfect, buying specific items, marrying the right type, owning a huge home with Ethan Allen furniture with maids to clean it and landscapers to shape it.

Is that why you want people to like you though? Because you own things? How about people liking you for who you are? We are not sixteen anymore. We have to break out of this idealism and focus on what will really make us happy.

What we THINK will make us happy

I am surrounded by people who feel that buying things makes them happier. It’s equivalent to eating the wrong things (and too much of them) to make yourself feel better. Feel bad that your marriage is falling apart? Go out and buy a $400 pocketbook! Upset that your boss is a jerk? Go eat that brownie a la mode with extra whipped cream! Mad that your latest diet craze didn’t work? Go have 2 or 3 high calorie drinks to drown your troubles away!

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Instead of Fixing our Problems, We Make Them Worse  

Does buying Aldo boots, Gucci bags and Michael Kors (whatever it is he sells) make you feel better? It does? Why? I mean really why? Is it fixing your larger problem? Are you buying name brand objects to reward yourself because your spouse treats you like crap, your boss puts your down, your kids are driving you nuts, or to hide the extra forty pounds on you?

What would make you feel better? How about a spouse that compliments you and tells you how great you look in your TJ Maxx sweater you bought on the clearance rack for 10 bucks? How about going back to college or finding a new job, one that makes you feel good about yourself every day? How about losing the weight and looking good in anything you put on, even if it’s a five dollar T-shirt from Target?

Want to be happy, REALLY happy?

Start fixing things the correct way.

  • Stuck in a dead end marriage? Either fix it or get out. Talk it out, write down issues you’re both having, seek out marriage counseling, but don’t continue to live in that hell day after day. Life is too short. If all else fails, get out. Find someone that will make you happy, or look at yourself to see if you are the one causing the problems. Are you annoyed that your spouse doesn’t see things your way? Maybe your way isn’t right for them. When is the last time you did anything super nice for each other? Compliments, little presents, cute surprises?
  • Lonely, single, waiting around for someone to sweep you off your feet? Why? Didn’t you just read the above? (Just kidding). Stop waiting for someone else to make you happy. You have to be happy with yourself alone and then that special someone will only compliment your YOU. This is your opportunity to make your life better. Go back to school (my co-worker did at age 40). Start a new career. Travel with your girlfriends to crazy places before you have a ton of kids or hefty house projects to complete (and pay for). No one will ever make you as happy as you make yourself. No one will ever be there for you as much as you want them to. You have to look in the mirror every day and love who that person is. Are you the best YOU that you can be? Or are you still waiting around for someone to make you happy?
  • Bored and have nothing to do when you get home? Pick up that hobby you always wanted to pursue. What did you have a passion for but forgot about? Go to the gym, design delicious recipes, join a group or take a class and be active in it, but make it something you enjoy. Get out of the damn house and meet people. Stop being afraid. This is not that gymnastics class your mom dumped you in at age five when you didn’t know anyone. This is not the first day in a new school. This is not pledging a sorority and hoping you get in. When you love yourself, others will love you. Walk into that new group with your head high and be confident. People should be happy to be around you! Instead of wondering if people will like you, you should be wondering if you will like them.
  • Spent thousands of dollars fixing up your home but still unhappy? Maybe it’s because you have no one to share it with. Have parties, invite people over, laugh and be silly. It’s no fun to do all that work and not share it with others. I had an aunt that invited everyone over all the time. Big Christmas parties, pool parties, sleep overs and it was never anything fancy. Just great company, simple food and lots of laughs. That’s what a house is for, to have all the people you love in it.
  • Hate the way you look, overweight, can’t fit into any clothes? Fix it. You have the power. There is no magic potion. Guess what? You have to eat LESS than you currently are and get off your ASS and stop playing on Facebook. Lose the weight, prove to yourself that you have the determination to do it for yourself, not anyone else. This isn’t about them. You are not in high school anymore. People say beauty is from within. Not if living with your outside makes you a mean, obnoxious, sarcastic, jealous bitch. Or, completely sad and depressed. Not if you feel miserable about your weight all the time and hide it. How do you think that is fairing with your insides then? The inside and outside work together, people. Pretending that you’re happy with your current weight hurts the inside, physically and emotionally. Just do it already.

What Moving to Another Country Teaches Us

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My former co-worker had the privilege of moving to France for two years, leaving the rat race of Long Island and learning a new culture. She wrote this one day on Facebook (I actually copied it down) and I never forgot it:

“People lead such a simple life here. They don’t care to have a fancy car or house. I can knock on my neighbor’s door anytime without hesitation and be welcomed. As soon as vacation starts, they are off to visit different places and cultures, spending their money on time with their family instead of objects. Children use nature for their fun. They believe in not rushing life. Relax, enjoy, come and see what the rest of the world has to offer.”

People might make fun of me but do I care?

I used to get made fun of for not having a real cell phone (I had a flip one where you Top Up and pay as you go for years!) I felt it was waste of money. You’re paying hundreds of dollars to do what? Stare at a rectangle? Look around people!  Live your life, not stare at it. I shop mainly in Marshalls and TJ Maxx, Target and Old Navy, and even then it’s once or twice a year, AND I get compliments on my inexpensive clothes. The purple bathing suit I wore in a former post, I bought in Walmart for $12. I have a pocket book from Target that I paid $19 for that I receive a lot of compliments on. My 18 year old did not get a cell phone until she got a job and paid for it herself. She appreciates it so much more. And it’s an older model. I have a no-name brand pair of eyeglasses for driving. I don’t watch TV, I feel it’s a major waste of time. I have never played any of those Facebook games either. (Do you realize what little time we have on Earth?)  I don’t drink because it just makes me fall asleep early and then I wake up feeling like crap. (Plus have you seen the price of drinks lately?)

What do I do for fun then? What makes me happy?

What I did as a kid. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but we still had fun. Lots of it. I love being outside, whether it’s the beach or park and take my daughters there frequently. I take them to amusement and water parks but I go on all the rides with them. I take them rock climbing, Go-carting, we build snowmen, do arts and crafts, go ice skating, sleigh-riding, build forts and play Twister. We bake together, decorate Easter eggs and play badminton on our front lawn. I teach them how to do Kart-wheels by actually doing them. They watched me go skydiving, I’ve gone white water rafting and I even ran a Mudd Run with my 18 year old, and this year I ran an Obstacle Course Fun Run with both my daughters. Memories will last forever. Not I-Phones and TV shows.

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I love working on my garden and pond (which I built myself) and it gives me great satisfaction to know that I constructed it by myself. (Although I will never do it again.) I created beautiful things around my home that can be enjoyed all summer long and I invite people over to enjoy them, too. My daughters love when we have parties in the house.

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I work out at the gym and eat healthy because I want to and I love doing healthy things for body. And I don’t care what anyone says, looking at yourself in a bikini and liking what you see, empowers you. Not only because you can walk outside and feel confident at any event, but because this is something you did for yourself, with no help from others and that alone builds your confidence. And, what a role model you will be for your children! Imagine ‘feeling’ healthy and beautiful all the time. Stop making excuses! Just do it.

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I ditched all the people around me that sucked the life out of me. I wasted so much time trying to get jealous-haters to like me, that the ones that did love me, I ignored. Surrounding yourself with people that support you and make you feel good only adds to the fun of life. If you really love yourself, feel you’re a great human being that is compassionate, affectionate, helpful and giving, then who cares what those jealous-haters think! And why do you care? They have issues, you don’t. “NOT YOUR PROBLEM!” But you’re draining yourself trying to prove it to them. Just find other people that want to slide down water slides, jump off diving boards and run Spartan races with you. Be happy – it drives people nuts!  Hee hee.

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(Courtesy of  jpegy.com)

We are Terrible Judges of What We Think Will Make us Happy

I spend my money on fun times and good memories. Not things. Things don’t make me feel better. It’s a waste of money and that money could be spent on activities or outings with the people you love. Instead of spending $150 on a fattening dinner, spend the entire day at a water park laughing. Instead of spending $400 on a pocketbook, go away for the weekend and rekindle that romance. Instead of another $200 pair of boots, join a gym with a friend or spouse and give each other the gift of health and then giggle as you morph into those yoga poses or wipe sweat off your brow during spin class. Instead of blowing that extra $10,000 on a higher class vehicle, take your family away on a vacation (or two) that they will never forget.

If you have control over your happiness (which you do), choosing things that make you laugh and have fun, changing your career or friends, doing something by yourself, making it happen, proving to yourself you are amazing by your actions and that you can take on whatever you need to, will make you happy. Letting someone else drive your happiness, following them around, living in their lives, letting your dreams fade away, not pursuing hobbies you love? No smartphone will ever make it better.

Good and bad things happen to all of us. How you choose to handle it and find the good in it, is YOUR choice. Stop looking for “external” validation. Who cares! Do YOU like yourself? Why or why not? If not, fix it. When you become the best person you can be in your own eyes, you will spread happiness to everyone around you. Inspire others!

One of my favorite memories was several years ago when my daughters and I experienced a blackout in our house one evening. The three of us (they were 9 and 14 at the time) snuggled up under the covers in my bed among the candlelight and we recorded ourselves saying all sorts of silly things, and then played it over and over again. We never laughed so hard. We still talk about it until this day, and it didn’t cost a thing.

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What are some simple things you find happiness in? What do you plan to work on in the new year to improve your happiness? Let me know.

I love hearing from you!

I’ve spoken to so many people about the problems they face, and inspired and motivated them to go out there and Fix their lives, that I decided to write books about it: My Fix It or Get Out Series. Ladies, we are not alone. Which story is yours?

P.S. As a thank you to all my new subscribers, my first book Cheating to Survive, is now 99 cents!  Grab it while you can. Thank you again!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

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