I woke up late, as usual, tried to open my exhausted eyelids. I had skipped the usual question “What’s the plan for today?” and left my bed. It has been almost 3 months since the last time I answered that question, after the first week of going back to Jerusalem it was the same day repeating itself over and over again. Wake up, go to the university campus, meet the same people and work for 12-14 hours.
Everything was the same that day except one thing, one thought. When suddenly I found myself shouting out loud to myself “Oh shit, I’m not happy, FUCK!” after a voice inside my head asked: “Are you happy?”. The answer was obviously no. I just realized I was on auto-pilot and forgot to ask myself such a trivial question. “If you are not happy, what is the point?” I kept asking myself for the rest of the day.
Auto-pilot is really good when you want to survive for a definitely period of time, but if you don’t have a deadline to turn it off then there is something wrong. I had to find a way to remind myself of that, a precaution alert before auto-pilot takes over. I decided to set a weekly reminder, every Friday, to ask myself the simple question: “Are you happy?” I have to answer with Yes or No and tell why. This way I didn’t only know when things are not going well but also I knew what really makes me happy and what does not!
2 years ago when people asked if I’m happy I couldn’t answer. I really didn’t know how to define happiness and a simple “yes/no” answer wasn’t satisfying enough for me. I definitely wasn’t sad, I had a good job, I started to travel yet I wasn’t able to answer. What is happiness anyway? After thinking a lot about this maybe happiness is not just a feeling. Maybe it’s a habit or even a skill, the awareness of your own thoughts and the ability to fight negativity when it tries to sneak in.
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” – André Gide
I still believe emotions are just an illusional reaction generated by our brain, reflexes of the chemicals and hormones in our bodies. I thought, if I can control my thoughts then I can control my feelings. I still believe in this fact, but it’s a tricky one. Our minds are wild animals and they are not easy to tame and the relationship with our bodies is reciprocal. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to focus on positive things you can’t change your mood, simply because your body is not helping. If you are sick, exhausted or even just hungry (👋🏻). It’s an absolute truth that:”If you take care of your body, it will take care of you”. Maybe this TED talk can explain it better:
Now let’s face reality. Nobody can be happy 100% of the time, it’s normal to have down days when all you want is to crumble in bed, do nothing and see no one. On some days I have to wake up in the morning and fight my own demons, sometimes I win and sometimes they do. When that happens I have a lot of sad/negative/evil energy and I have to do something about it, I could wait for it to fade away with the help of music, sport or sleep. Now, I’m not sure if this’s completely true but I think most artists use that “bad” energy to create art, so I feed that energy to that “artist” inside of me and I start writing. You can write too, paint, sing or play an instrument, find your artist!
What works for me may not work for you and the other way around. You need to learn about yourself and I think nothing can help you do so more than books, so maybe you should check out these:
1- Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
3- Create or hate: successful people make things
4- The Alchemist
5- Steal like an artist
Finally, this post will not magically change your life and make you a happy person. I can’t tell how to be happy because I’m myself still trying to figure out BUT I know all the answers come from the right questions. So I’m going to ask you, are you happy?