The other day I was wasting a little time on Pinterest, when I stumbled across a quote that said “It’s ok to be happy with a calm life.” You know when you happen upon a quote, idea or sentiment that just really resonates with you? That’s what happened with this. I repinned the image and went on with my day, but instead of forgetting all about it like I do most things, I kept coming back to the quote and pondering on it. Today I spent a couple of minutes typing the words up (replacing “calm” with “quiet”) and printing it, so I could tape the message on our fridge as a reminder.
I think this little phrase struck a chord with me because for a long time I didn’t think that it was ok to be happy with a quiet life. I am actually only fairly new to this way of thinking. I grew up expecting my adult self to become a high-flying editor. In my teen years I watched a lot of Sex in the City and imagined myself moving to New York and strutting around in Manolos like Carrie Bradshaw. I wanted an impressive job, an incredible wardrobe and money. Lots of money. After uni I leapt at the first opportunity to move to Sydney, so I could start my dream life in the city… And then quite unexpectedly, things changed. I wasn’t happy. I slowly began to realise the life I had always thought that I wanted was in fact, not what I wanted at all. I hated working in an office. I couldn’t stand wearing heels for any prolonged period of time. I found the hustle and the bustle of the city exhausting. Coming home to our dark little apartment and getting takeaway after a day at work and a long commute was miserable. And most surprisingly of all, having more money didn’t make me any more happy.
In our society we are constantly bombarded with the message that we should want more. Advertising tells us life will be better with more. Our families and school teachers (who only want the best for us) encourage us to work hard to we can acheive more. The media and popular culture focus on celebrities and people who have more. More means success. So deciding that actually, we’d be happy with a bit less, can require a big adjustment.
A couple of years on, sometimes I still catch myself slipping into “more” mentality. I see people getting impressive jobs and promotions, driving new cars and buying big houses and I get caught up comparing my humble life to the their successes. But to compare myself to someone else’s version of success makes no sense at all. Though I am happy for my friends’ achievements, I don’t necessarily want them for myself. I actually really like my life! I love our shabby old house. I love my little Etsy shop. I love my Reuben and our fur babies. I love our op-shop dates. I love our trips to the farmers markets. I love that we are working on this home and making it our own, all ourselves. I’ve also come to realise I value time more than money, and that Reubs and I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. I now know that I find life richer, happier and smoother when we spend plenty of time quietly at home. I understand that I’m more confident in myself when I’m not totally focused on material things. I’m less anxious away from the crazy pace of the city. I’m healthier when I take the time to cook whole food from scratch. I’m more pleasant to be around when I’m not stressed. In the past I’ve had more money, more stuff and more conventional “success” than I do at the moment, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than I am right now.
I now know that it’s ok to be happy with a quiet life. Actually, it’s ok to be happy with whatever kind of life makes us happy! We just have to learn to let go of irrelevant expectations, listen to our hearts and do what feels right for us. Because at the end of the day there is no one way to be happy or successful. The formula for a good life is different for each of us.
You makes your life happy?