Recently, I stumbled on this book cover of a french novel the title “J’ai trouve le bonheur… il etait en moi” written by Marie-Laure Cuzaq. The title is translated “I FOUND HAPPINESS…. IT WAS IN ME”
And this really accentuates my thoughts over the last couple of weeks.
As I began counting down to forty, I compared the last two decades of my life- my twenties and my thirties and I could see a stark difference!
My twenties was so much fun!
I pursued interests, took swimming classes, dancing classes, tailoring, I had a friend’s party or celebration to attend almost every weekend. To cap it all, I could pack my bag at a whim and go on a trip. I had an interesting job that took me around the country and outside- I worked for an airline so sometimes I’d go to work in the morning and end up in another city before the end of the day. I started a travels and tours office for my company, so I also got free stays at hotels and invites to different destinations by tour operators.
I wasn’t rich, but I was happy!
My thirties took a more somber disposition.
I had become very dissatisfied with my life, and I wanted to do and be more. I had become so tired of my job the thought of going back to the office the next day would keep me awake all night. I resigned and decided to take some time to unwind before setting out again… but trust me, I didn’t take a day rest before I hit the road again, and there went the plans for my already planned vacation.
Then I neglected all the fun things to pursue ‘more serious’ things.
Yes, I traveled a few times, but not as much as I wanted and it was only always on business.
And I did do quite some serious stuff.
– I stopped being passionate, I became mechanical and was more concerned about results.
– I said to myself “I’m not married, so what? I could make a lot of money and relevance, then it wouldn’t matter”, so I pursued one project after another.
– I was unprepared for failure. I used to be so afraid of failure that I always worked hard. I now realise that you can work very hard and still fail.
– I totally stopped socialising. I’m not sure I’ve attended more than three weddings in the last five years.
– I had given up what I had for what I was looking for. I soon became very unhappy, sick and broke.
Yes, my hard work did pay off- I won grants, scholarships, sponsorship for study tours, international conferences and exhibition, got a license to run a international business incubator, and several other feats… but none of these gave me fulfillment and I still didn’t hit my mark.
In retrospect, I realise that I also achieved other goals I wasn’t pursuing and didn’t think much of because they didn’t seem very major to me- I got licensed to practice as a counselor, earned a diploma in French language (whereas I wanted a doctorate in a more serious field), self-published two books (while I was looking for a traditional publisher for an entirely different book), got an award I certainly wasn’t expecting…and a whole lot other things that I had taken for granted. Surprisingly, I got a deeper sense of fulfillment from these compared to the ‘lofty achievements’ and big things I’d been pursuing.
The last 5 years have been a battle for my physical and mental health, as a result:
– I had to learn to be less self-dependent.
– I had to learn to be less anxious and trust more
– I had to learn to live more out of my heart than my head
– I had to learn to extricate myself from stressful relationships and toxic environments.
– I had to learn contentment and become more laid back.
If I have learnt anything in this time, it is that happiness often doesn’t come from the grand things, it is from the little things that we most often take for granted.