“When you’re there, you’re there.”
My dad has said that for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it went straight over my head. When I was a teenager it would make me roll my eyes and smile, not quite getting it. As an adult it has gotten a bit more profound.
It doesn’t matter where you go in life, you can never escape one thing…yourself. Wherever you got, there you are. If you are surrounded by negative people and situations you might feel like you have choices that will help you rise above – you can move, you can go on vacation, you can do whatever you like, but you will still be surrounded by negative people and situations. It’s not where you are, it’s what you think and how you feel. If you feel down, you need to do the hard work to find out why and make the right choices for you to get back up again. And it is hard work.
At the beginning of the year I had lost sight of this simple, but not always easy law of the Universe and was determined to make happiness a destination. I felt somewhat broken and was looking to leave all of my problems in the dust and search for something better. Better weather, interesting opportunities, a fresh start at relationships and friendships – you name it and I wanted it.
My husband and I carefully plotted out our move. This was going to happen. It was time. We had always been careful not to root ourselves in one place for good. We were gun shy about committing to staying in one place and set up our life to reflect that. We had early on decided not to have kids and we rented an apartment instead of buying a house, so that someday we could make an easy exit on to the next adventure.
As my husband interviewed for new jobs and we patiently waited to see what the job offer would be, I started to feel a hesitation stir in my heart and my gut. Leaving would mean leaving family and friends. It would mean I would not get to see this community of yoga students grow. It would mean leaving a wonderful school community that my husband had been a part of since the school opened its doors 12 years ago. Warmer weather also meant leaving behind the glory that is a Midwest autumn season and the crisp chill and wonder of the first snowfall.
But I was so unhappy. Probably the unhappiest I had been in the past decade. I was uncomfortable in my own skin with the weight of it, trying to fake happiness until I made it back to actually feeling it and hoping no one would notice. I cried a lot and held onto the belief that soon we would be leaving and I’d get the fresh start I felt I so desperately needed.
And then…I caught myself. No matter where you go, there YOU are. Sitting in meditation one morning I realized that I needed to figure out what “happy” was here, where I was right now, in order for me to ever find “happy” in a new place. So, I did the hard work. I took a step back and thoroughly looked at my life with new eyes. What was making me so unhappy? What did I need to say, “no,” to in order to have space in my life to say, “yes,” to the things that would actually work best for me?
I cleared out the cobwebs of my mind and stopped denying what was right in front of my face. I left a job I had once loved, so that I could grow in a new way. I let go of the relationships that no longer worked for me, honestly wishing those folks the best in life and hoping they were wishing me the same, but knowing it was the right thing to do for me. And then I thanked my husband, my family, and my all too incredible friends for standing by me through the process of it all.
A couple of weeks later my husband and I decided to stay put. This is where we are meant to be right now. And I was happy again – well, I was happy about two weeks before we made our decision and at that point didn’t care where we lived one way or another. Where I lived had very little to do with my happiness and everything to do with my mindset and my everyday choices. I am in control of how I’m feeling from day to day.
Last week at the grocery store I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. “You look great!” she exclaimed, “And so happy – it’s good to see you smile again!” It had never crossed my mind that she would have noticed my unhappiness earlier, but it made the compliment that much sweeter.
“Thank you,” I replied, “I am happy!”
Though this year has been a challenge, I don’t regret a moment. Sometimes you need to experience feeling down to know in your heart how sweet true happiness can be.