Derry woman unveils secret to true happiness

The way you live your life every day determines your level of happiness. Whilst happiness is subjective, one fact remains-it is a direct result of your everyday actions and decisions. Deirdre Porter discusses the pathway to true happiness.

The way you live your life every day determines your level of happiness. Whilst happiness is subjective, one fact remains-it is a direct result of your everyday actions and decisions. Deirdre Porter discusses the pathway to true happiness.

Often I find myself drifting off into another sphere of deep, unmitigated thought. Sometimes, the story of my life appears in my thoughts as a sequence of flash-cards. Each and every momentous occasion flashing by bringing with it an instantaneous flush of emotion. My subconscious assures me it’s been an amazing ride so far. However in typical Capricornia style I’m rarely satisfied and always wanting more so I question the route my life has taken me and wonder, have I done enough? Should I have neglected the notion of marriage and children? Studied more? Worked less? Travelled more? Procrastinated less? Then I decided to compile a list of my top ten tips on how to get to a point in life where I can say ‘I am complete, and I am happy’.

1. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life expected of you by others.

So many of us are caught up in a falsely constructed sense of self, made up of self-limitations, family expectations, pressures and conventions. A strangle-hold so tight that our own true voices can be barely be heard above the demand of others’ requirements. Therefore it takes real ‘‘courage’’ to live life well, the way YOU want to live, not the way others EXPECT you to live.

2. Don’t work too hard.

Those who know me well will be shaking their heads about now. But that’s ok, I’ve done what I had to in order to achieve what I have today. So the cliché is true and hindsight is a wonderful thing. No-one wants to spend more time than they have to at the office. But we don’t get time back so turn off the computer, put down your phone and pay attention to those who love you- now.

3. Have the courage to express your feelings.

Having feelings is not a sign of weakness. Feelings require courage, optimism and respect. I have always been able to expand on and express my feelings at the slightest provocation (too often maybe) but there are those who can’t. Why confine yourself to a psychological prison when you can stand up for what you believe in and have your voice heard loud and clear?

4. Stay in touch with friends.

We may be constantly surrounded by family, but good friends are only a phone call away. It is amazing how a shared history and experiences can remake connections so quickly. And there is nothing to be lost in attempting to do so.

5. Live in the moment, but dream in the future.

Happy people have hopes, dreams and more importantly, goals. They have wants and aspirations but don’t get lost in them. Take small steps towards achieving them but don’t get too distracted or caught up.

6. Never try and enforce change.

Instead learn to embrace it and deal with change appropriately. Devoting your energy to changing other people is a complete waste of time and energy because people do change, but they have to do it on their own accord. Concentrate on your own life because change itself takes time, and you cannot push or force time. On the contrary, learn to deal with people as they are, in order to appreciate them truly.

7. Realise that there is nothing to lose by being happy, but everything to gain.

Like most things, happiness is a choice, and although it often involves a struggle, it is within the grasp of everyone. Even those who struggle with Depression and mental illness know that happiness can be a choice and pleasure that can be taken at will. It just involves discovering the power of positive thinking and allowing all the positive aspects in your life to over-power the negative.

8. Love your friends, but don’t rely on them.

Friends are a major part of our lives and can not only be of help, but of hindrance too. They are individuals with their own wants and needs, and will always put themselves ahead of you and your goals. Friends are great to have and add enormous value to your life, but don’t rely too heavily on them, or its inevitable that you will end up disappointed. Those with happy lives have very close friends, but they maintain their independence in order to avoid this disappointment. Over-reliance often ruins the relationship between friends.

9. Don’t try to impress others, just be yourself.

Happy people like themselves, and believe that this takes precedence over trying to please others. The saying ‘what everyone else thinks of you is none of your business’ is powerful, but true. Just do what it is you love to do, and take no notice of what others think, it’s not relevant and shouldn’t make any difference to the quality of your life. Never try to gain acceptance or approval as this will only denigrate your spirit and sense of self-worth. Tell yourself ‘I am amazing’ and believe it!

10. Understand that difficult people are not out to hurt you, they are just dealing with their own demons.

Most of us encounter difficult people daily, we just have to learn to deal with them and not take them personally. If someone is lashing out and you happen to be in the firing line, chances are they are dealing with something internally and are having trouble addressing it. Don’t take this behaviour to heart, don’t question what you’re doing wrong. This is THEIR issue not yours, and once you’re comfortable accepting this, it becomes easier to let go.

lDeirdre Porter is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Deirdre was born and raised in Derry but moved to Australia as a teenager. Deirdre writes freelance feature articles, blogs and has been published in a range of national publications.