October 2017 was the dawn of a new period in my life as I began an experiment called the Happiness Project, modeled after a book by the same name. In truth, I already had much happiness. Nevertheless, there were factors which conspired against me, leaving me feeling dissatisfied: I had just gone through a dark night of the soul—ten grueling years long—I was an inch from fifty, my children were growing up, and well, there were a lot of shifts which left me wondering if I had not entirely missed my purpose.
Human beings ache to be purposeful. They desire to know they matter. They yearn to leave their mark and not just live and die, mission unfilled, the world not any different for them having lived. This begs the BIG “Why am I here?” question.
On a conscious level, I knew I mattered. There are people around me whose existence would be greatly affected by my absence. There is knowing, however, and then there is Knowing. I did not Know.
Most of my adult life I have been a wife and mother. Noble roles to be sure, Functions I was blessed to fulfill. Being a wife has been a great blessing to me, and I love my husband deeply. Likewise, being a stay-at-home mother is a privilege, and my children are a treasure. Nonetheless, I am aware there will be no retirement party when my last child leaves. No recognition for the years—willingly and gratefully—invested.
Motherhood is one of these responsibilities which, while praised, is confined to the shadow of a society which measures worth and productivity in dollar signs, not lives transformed. Therefore, I was enthralled by the idea I could become happier while changing nothing of my current situation.
I had no desire to drastically alter my life. A new husband or a new job was not on my happy list. Out with the old and in with the new was sure to leave me unfulfilled, not happier. Likewise, while the notion of traveling to exotic destinations made my heart flutter, this was not in the cards.
My truest yearning was to find happiness, abiding joy, and peace in the midst of my current circumstances. Anything short of this desire was sure to be fleeting and empty. I masterfully mapped my plan and set it in motion. Every month, I selected action steps with the goal of improving my happiness.
Surprisingly, I obtained my objective within days of my starting point. Truth be told, the steps I gingerly and carefully selected were not the cause of my newfound joy. The considerable alterations to my life were not in deeds. True, being altruistic does have its mood-altering benefits. Purposefully engaging in goodness is to be commended. However, I was most transformed by two concepts: one, being myself, and two, being present.
From birth, we are asked to step into many roles: child, parent, friend, worker, etc. As a result, too often we become actors on the stage called life, lost to ourselves, and eventually others. We can only genuinely be happy and at peace when we are authentic to our truest self. Masks have no place in joy.
Likewise, when we become mindful—fully present—we realize that life is not in the melancholy of the past nor in the fear or longing of the future. Life is now, this instant. As I sit writing, life is the touch of my fingertips on the keyboard, my brow furrowed in concentration, and my twins’ playful bantering over breakfast. It is me sitting in my favorite chair, now.
That is life. Unadulterated, raw, often times messy, but also exhilarating and breathtakingly beautiful.
While I am wife, mother, friend and neighbor, I am foremost me now. A created being, designed to inhabit this life as wholly myself without apologies for being a perfectly imperfect human being. Yes, a human be-ing, not, do-ing.
I was created as enough—more than enough—by a God who loves me. I am enough, and that is enough. The same goes for you. The world does not need you to role play. It needs you to be you, now.
Am I happier?
Yes, indeed, I am.
Author | Florence Witt
Florence Witt is a French-born wife, mom of many, and grandmother. She now calls the desert Southwest home. She loves to write compelling, positive messages to stir her readers to a more positive life and view of themselves.
You can learn more about Florence and read her work on her blog, here.