Between work, friends, life, going to the gym, going to the spa, shopping, dinners out, dates, studying for a Masters degree, time on facebook to keep in touch, I thought I had the perfect balanced life for a while when I was living in Tokyo. I thought I was “living it” and was happy. Actually, I didn’t even have time to think about whether I was happy or not. In fact, I didn’t even know what made me happy.
I was blinded by society’s standards and expectations — if I had a well-paid job and a big apartment, lots of friends, social life and all that, I should be happy. Why shouldn’t I?
Assuming that is the definition of happiness, the irony is that I didn’t really have the energy to be happy. I had the spare time, but I was too bogged down by all these images and reputations I had to live up to: “the caring friend”, “the cool boss”, “the loving child”, “the efficient one”, “a good RM & sales”… And by spending all my energy living up to these standards, either imposed by others — or worse, I presumed was imposed by others or what would make me loved and liked, my spirit and vigor was being consumed.
I had no energy left to be happy from the heart. Yet I convinced myself I was. I am not an ungrateful little b!tch, just whining and complaining about everything. I was strong. I was smilely. I was happy. In front of everyone else.
When I was alone, I was too exhausted to even give the topic “happiness” a thought. I went to sleep whenever I could, or studied for my exams for more qualifications. That would make me happy surely – more achievements!
The outward veneer of happiness eroded gradually, and keeping up with myself started to weather my soul. My core was empty all along. Until I was forced to sit at home everyday for so many months due to being ill, I never actually had the opportunity to stop and contemplate happiness. I was too engrossed in running, running, running all my life – faster, quicker, more, better.
So I am thankful I got ill – especially when I was not terminally ill. I am thankful I got depressed and sunk to the deepest depths of hopelessness and despair for a while. Because it gave me time to reflect. It was a slow process because most energy was spent being sick and being depressed during those months. But a little a day, as I struggled to come out of depression, I finally pondered the issue of how would I be happy. It took a complete halt in my life just to get to this point instead of doing all these things that I initially thought would make me happy. Ironically amusing. Almost funny.
Do YOU have the energy to be happy in your present life? Do you know what makes you happy? Like, really happy? No, seriously, it’s not a silly question. Or would you rather catch one more wink of sleep than to think about this?
As for me, what would make me happy? Simple really. Just to be me, and to be natural. I’m learning.