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One of my favorite quotes is from Alice in Wonderland when Alice is talking to the Cheshire Cat.
Can you tell me which path I should take?
Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to go!
Alice: I don’t really know.
Cheshire Cat: Then, clearly, any road will do!
That is how a lot of us start out our lives–blindly picking a road and heading down it. The key to living happier is once we have picked a road to ask ourselves–where do we want to go and is this road helping us get there? We need to pay attention to the road and ask ourselves how do we respond to the people/activities/values on that road—do we need to detour? Take a side street? Slow Down? Back Up?
I had a client a few years ago who was just getting out of a bad, toxic relationship. She had stayed in it for close to a decade, telling herself she was ‘happy enough’ so it was ok. When I asked her what happy enough meant she said, ‘well he wasn’t abusive, we got along ok, and I had my career.’ When I pushed her further for what she wanted out of her life she had said she wanted, kids (something he didn’t), to get married (something he didn’t), and to travel (something he didn’t). She had in essence given up ten years of her life to be ‘happy enough.’ When she came to see me, she was coming out of the relationship and going through the process of recognizing that she deserved more than ‘happy enough.’ Through our work together she started paying attention to her road and figuring out what was important to her. Eventually, she went back to school, found a new career, moved to Florida and started a new life. During our last session she said, she couldn’t imagine how she had lived all those years, not paying attention to what she wanted.
I believe that to live happier; you need to pay attention to yourself on the road. You need to make sure you are present with your mind body spirit.
Living Happier, is an ongoing activity. It is a process we live every day constantly listening to self and checking the road. Our life ‘map’ may be a swirl of roads, we might detour or take side roads, and that is ok. Unfortunately, in this culture, we value picking one road and blindly sticking to it without any thought as to whether or not we like the road.
It doesn’t mean if we don’t like something or don’t enjoy something we need to back up or get off the road. But maybe we need to detour or rest stop or make sure we are connected with ourselves and the road we are choosing. The point of life is to engage fully and actively pursue our values and passions.
So today, as you think about your road, remember–any road WON’T do, happy enough isn’t ok. Ask yourself: Are the activities, people, and events you have in your life something you CHOOSE to engage in or are they filler in your life? Are they something you want on your road?