If you are anything like me, you may be feeling a bit bombarded with advice and ideas about how to make the changes you want to make at the beginning of a new year and a new decade.
Personally, I think that any time is a good time to start making changes and I don’t think we need a New Year to help us to do that. In fact, it can often be counter-productive to think in terms of ‘resolutions’: I will do this or I should do that… It tends to put off into the future what we can begin right this minute.
However, every year, at this time of year, my phone starts to ring constantly with people who want to work with me to make some changes. It is a very popular time of year to think about stopping smoking or finally giving yourself the opportunity to have the weight and shape and health and energy that you want to have, for example.
And, of course, I am delighted to help people to make these sorts of changes in their lives.
But I also have to say – and to some people this may even sound surprising or counter-intuitive coming from someone who actually makes their living in the field of personal development – that I am always even more delighted when I can help people to fully realise how wonderful they already are.
You know, this New Year, the only thing I really want to say to anyone out there who is perhaps feeling a little of the ‘back to work’ blues, a little of those ‘It’s New Year and my life still sucks’ or ‘I am just so sick of being me’ kind of feelings, is this.
You are already the most perfect, wonderful, amazing, beautiful, powerful you.
Yes, perhaps you just haven’t quite realised it yet… but, really, you are.
Being happier in 2010 isn’t about losing a few pounds, eating healthier, getting a better job or finding the right relationship. All those things can be important, that’s true, but they are not really what happiness is about.
In fact, happiness isn’t really about anything.
Think about those times when you said to yourself, ‘I will be so much happier when I do this, get that, find this, achieve that…’ and then you did just that, got just that, achieved just that… and the happiness lasted for precisely five minutes or, possibly, a couple of weeks, before you were already thinking about the next thing you needed to do.
Happiness isn’t something that happens because of this or that. Happiness just is.
Happiness can be a way of looking, of being, of noticing, of appreciating. Some people even maintain that happiness is a skill, a discipline that can be learned, a choice that can be made, moment by moment. But happiness doesn’t happen because of anything particular out there in the world.
Once you’ve met your basic needs for food and clothing and shelter – and I think it is important to remember that most of the people in this world haven’t been able to do that yet – happiness doesn’t happen because you have better clothing, a bigger house, more food. Watch any chat show or flick through the pages of any glossy celeb magazine to have that confirmed for you.
It’s also interesting to me that, years ago, when I started doing the work I do, I worked in London, with people who had arrived in the UK with nothing at all in the way of any of those things we might consider essential for happiness, and I met many people who, despite this, were very happy people. They didn’t have their health, their families, money or a home but some of them would tell me – time and again – that they already had happiness. And at the time, I found this hard to get my head around. I thought they were just putting a brave face on things.
But, you know, now I can understand what they were telling me. It was something very powerful.
Because if we can be happy without certain things we thought were essential for happiness (and that doesn’t mean, either, that I think we should give up any of those things in order to be happy); if we can be happy even when we don’t get what we thought we wanted, or when bad stuff happens; if we can accept that we are not happy because of anything, really, what then?
Well, what about this? My own personal development, experiment in living, or whatever you might call it over the last few years has brought me to this conclusion:
We are happiness.
I am leaving a little white space around those words because I think they need to breathe a little. Believe me, I know – I really know – that it can take some time, some space, some breath, some love for yourself, some willingness to let go of all kinds of other stuff to fully embrace the idea that you are happiness.
So what if you were to live 2010 from that starting point, from the idea that you are happiness in this world?
I would like to say, once again, a huge thank you to all the wonderful people in 2009 who showed me what happiness really is and can be; who taught me about the happiness I already am and how to appreciate it and live it. I know that I have so much more to learn in 2010 – and how exciting that is.
And I’d like to send out my warmest wishes and much love to you all for everything that you already are this New Year. At risk of sounding mushy or sentimental – oh, what the heck, I am going to be all mushy and sentimental – you are all already a part of my happiness. Thank you.