When I was 29, I went through a funk. I was feeling down and out. Jaded. And a whole lotta sad. “Buck up, April,” I thought. “Get out of this.” So I tried to settle into my normal routine. I popped in a Jillian Michaels exercise video, got into my workout clothes, pressed play and proceeded to bawl my eyes out through bicep curls and lunges. I tried changing things up a bit. I went on long summer walks in new neighbourhoods, hoping to channel the vibrancy but everything just looked grey and felt blah.
Finally I stopped trying to get myself out of it and settled into a depression with a glass of wine and a lemon cookie in hand. I let myself fade for months while my family stood by trying to motivate me, perk me up and support me. Eventually my parents told me it’d be a good idea to see someone.
So I did. I found a cognative therapist, flopped down into an armchair in her office and blabbed for an hour straight. And I went back the next week. And the week after that. I talked about feeling directionless, my obsession with my weight, and how lost I feel after experiencing loss and disappointment. I told her a boy had broken my heart and that I simply couldn’t understand how someone so wonderful could hurt me so much. And then she told me a wonderful thing.
“Everyone is just looking to be happy.”
She said it in passing, but I was dumbfounded. The idea that happiness is the motivation for every decision we make in life suddenly made life so much easier to bear. It made it easier to deal with heartbreak – the boy was just looking to be happy. And I wanted him to be.
Most importantly, it made me ask myself, “If everyone is looking for happiness, what does that look like for me? What makes me happy?” I couldn’t believe that up until that point I hadn’t given it much thought.
I began to re-evaluate how I was trying to attain happiness. Maybe dieting my way to a size 6 won’t won’t make me a happier person. Maybe choosing to watch seasons one through four of Mad Men instead of working on my masters won’t make me happy down the road.
And I started to keep track of all the things in this world that made me grin. Things that made me feel accomplished. Things that made me feel like my best self. And then I made those things a priority in my life. The result? Happiness. Happiness that didn’t hinge on anyone but me.
Have you ever received life changing advice? What do you do to keep your spirits high? And how do you keep those things a top priority for yourself?