“If people are talking behind your back, be happy that you are the one in front.” Mashaal Mughal
Do you believe you can be utterly happy?
Most of us, unfortunately, believe in unhappiness. We wish to be as happy as Marry Poppins, wandering amusedly in the world and bursting into songs every now and then. Yet, most of us believe that no one can really be that happy. Not even governesses. Surely not us.
It may have something to do with growing upon the beliefs that heaven is not on earth, but far, far away. A pretty discouraging starting point.
I, for instance, used to believe in unhappiness from the bottom of my cringed heart. I used to live obediently up to the perceptions of an entire bunch of parents, teachers, neighbors and passersby. Striving to be their ideal, I enthusiastically ignored my depression.
But life was going to turn upside down.
What Happens When You Do What You’re Told
It began when I followed my erroneous dream, and became a teacher in the city’s worst high school. It was entirely my fault, because I didn’t manage to dream about becoming rich and famous as a normal person should. Instead, I had the impractical urge to make a difference.
I taught my beloved students to research, and took them to the city’s main library, for the first time in their lives. Entering the temple of success excited them deeply. Therefore, over the next weeks, they strenuously wrote brilliant essays. Some of them even stayed away from drugs for that purpose.
Then we got a reprimand letter from the library for being noisy. Museums and other educational institutions didn’t like my broadening-minded teenagers either. We became the most scolded class in town.
For me, still being too-good-a-girl, being crucified for arduously doing the right thing was shocking. Then enraging.
Rage was a superb wake-up-call to examine my belief in authorities thoroughly. To hell with them all, I fumed. Who are they to tell me to close my students in their usual disadvantaged school? Who is anyone to tell me right from wrong? Never again will I let any jerk stop me from following a dream! Ever!
And I never did.
What Happens When You Don’t Listen
It worked miracles.
My students’ marks in the final exam, for instance, were among the highest in the entire city. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Then, they didn’t see themselves the same again.
I, over the following decades, found myself behaving in other startling abnormal ways. Instead of worshiping money, for example, I heretically left a well-paid career to humbly raise my kids and enjoy a homely-gardenly life. Then I took my kids and their father to the far, dangerous India for months. Continuing my irresponsibility, I took my son out of our honorable education system. Finally, I encouraged my better-half to quit his prestigious high-tech job and become a photographer, i.e., an artist, heaven forbid.
Though I did every such revolutionary step by the book, namely following a crisis, I acted in a way the people around me considered reckless. I didn’t have good enough reasons for it, either, if you ask the public opinion, for I did it only to make us happier – surely not a sufficient motive. As the mother of Author Jeanette Winterson said, “why be happy when you could be normal?”
What Happens When Nobody Abides
Most of us wish to be as happy as Marry Poppins, and we can do it, if only we could believe that everyone can be that singingly happy. If we could believe that heaven can be on earth, (as Anita Moorjani shows in her wise book What If This Is Heaven). If we could believe that we’re the ones who know what’s good for us, and we’re the ones who should make the choices and follow our dreams.
It’s not easy, though. For one thing, digging up our buried wishes can be baffling, for we tend not to admit, even to ourselves, our undreamed-of dreams.
For another, when you do live your own way, there will always be good souls who’ll explain that what you do is hideous, and describe what an inferior human being you are. If you have children, they’ll undoubtedly tell you that you’ll ruin your kids’ lives. Sometimes they’ll kindheartedly just hint that. Repeatedly.
Not believing them is a hard task. They remind us of the guilt we grew upon along our blessed childhood. On the other hand, they give us a fantastic reminder of what a wretched life people who don’t dare to stick out lead. Of how boredom and jealousy make them stick their noses into your affairs. As the saying goes, “if people wrinkle their noses at you, they’ll have wrinkled noses.”
We, who accept the Dalai-Lama’s saying that “the meaning of life is to be happy and useful,” must follow our own hearts. There’s no other way to happiness. We must choose our lives for ourselves.
The best thing is that when you’re making your own choices and living your unique happy life, you also become an inspiration to others. After tittle-tattling about you and how dare you act so recklessly, some of the gossipers will follow your lead and do something good for themselves, too. Thus you can help not only yourself, your descendants and your other relatives, but also your farther surroundings, and so on and so forth.
And, more importantly, you can be happy.
So go start your liberated happy life, right now.
Don’t worry. Be happy.
Estee Horn is a former eight-days-a-week stressed careerist mother, laboriously turned into a peaceful author and world-traveler. Estee helps busy people slow life down and be happier. To focus on what matters most, and enjoy every minute of it, get 15 Habits That Guarantee You’re On The Road To Happiness.
Image courtesy of Barbora Polednová.