Happiness. We put so much pressure on that single word, don’t we?
It’s all too easy to get stuck in this mental cycle of thinking happiness will magically arrive once we get something we thought we wanted more than anything else—when we accomplish something we worked our asses off to get.
I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.
I’ll be happy when I buy that house.
I’ll be happy when I write that book.
Do we feel happy after obtaining or accomplishing any of these things? Not for very long. Like coming down from a high, we crash and we wonder where it all went wrong.
Hey, what happened to my happiness I deserve? I worked so hard for it, and now it’s gone.
The build-up we attach to thinking happiness comes after a certain thing causes this self-destructive roller coaster of emotions.
As a writer, I know this feeling well. And I see it all the time in other writers.
I hear many aspiring novelists say that they’ll be happy when they finally finish writing their first book, so they can share it with the world. They envy others who have published their novel, thinking they have won the key to happiness.
I know this, because I used to be an aspiring novelist. I used to feel these things.
I used to think that if I published books, I would be able to become a full-time writer. I pictured myself looking out the window, typing away with a cat in my lap, creating meaningful art to share.
Since then, I’ve written and self-published three books. And I still have my full-time job.
After each book release, I felt disappointed. Yes, I was proud of myself for my hard work. I was. But what kept holding me back was the pressure I put on my own happiness.
Because I said…
I’ll be happy when I publish my first book.
I’ll be happy when I publish my second book.
I’ll be happy when I publish my third book.
Here’s the really interesting thing about finding happiness. It’s not hard to find. It’s actually right there in front of us.
Recently I ran a free Amazon promotion on my first book, Beneath the Satin Gloves, for a re-release I did after reediting the whole damn thing.
The promotion was a smashing success, with hundreds of downloads. My goal was to get more reviews. Then, I got my first Goodreads review…and it was one star, no comment.
I blamed the review for stealing my happiness. I wanted to quit writing—not for the first time—and I began second-guessing my path and purpose in life. Just like that.
Sure, it sounds ridiculous as I reveal this vulnerability to you guys, but it’s true. And, we all do it.
Again, I put too much pressure on my happiness, because I said I would be happy when I got reviews for my book. Well, I got one didn’t I? Shouldn’t that have made me happy?
The picture of me you’re seeing is a selfie I took right after this happened. It was a beautiful sunny day here in Portland and I took a walking break at work.
There’s a lovely urban park not far away. It’s surrounded by tall buildings and a busy freeway, but the park is spacious and peaceful, a sanctuary inside of the chaos.
It was here that I snapped out of my unhappiness. It was here, on a Wednesday afternoon, that happiness washed over me.
Nothing happened. There was no five star review for the same book to make me “feel better,” or some other grand revelation. I was simply happy.
And when I look back at some of the happiest moments in my life, they happen when I least expect them.
I think this is something we should all keep in mind. I’ll be happy when I live.
Britt is the spirited indie novelist of Nola Fran Evie, Everything’s Not Bigger, and Beneath the Satin Gloves. Her blog, a physical perspective, is a whimsical snapshot of life, musings, and the glory of the written word. Britt is blissfully married, has two delightfully incorrigible cats and loves to experience the world—all of its quirky beauty inspires her endlessly. When she’s not writing, she’s a bike riding Yogi who loves to dance.