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In Need of Advice: Where Do You Find Joy?

My 35th birthday is right around the corner and I feel happier than ever before.

I’ve always been a very serious, driven and competitive person and I’m sad to say that happiness didn’t seem to match my personality type much in my younger years. In fact, though I recall many moments of happiness I don’t believe I was an overall happy person.

My state of mind changed dramatically seven years ago when I unexpectedly fell ill. Faced with an unknown future I slowly began to realize that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so I sure has hell better learn to live for today.

Although I consider myself unbelievably lucky and blessed I think it was my change in perspective that made me happier than anything else. After all, I know some very wealthy, healthy people that are downright miserable, so having either of those two things in life is not necessarily a recipe for bliss.

I feel happiest when I live in the moment. I know so many people that are waiting for something. They are waiting for love, money, better health or better friendships. They spend so much time looking forward to the the next thing that they never stop to appreciate today. It’s those little moments in life that need to be appreciated. I try my best to live fully in the moment, whether that moment is cooking dinner with my husband, playing peek-a-boo with my son or spending a lazy Saturday afternoon watching the Olympics.

I also know my faults and flaws and accept who I am as much as possible. I’m the kind of girl who needs a lot of space. If I go on vacation with my entire family, which I often do, I know that I need at least thirty minutes of time all by myself. If I can’t get this by waking up early and staying in bed, sitting out on the porch on a warm summer morning or trying to sneak in a few extra minutes at the pool then I’ll excuse myself for just a few minutes go into my bedroom and close the door. Do my in-laws think I’m being rude? Probably. Do I care? Most definitely not. We all have our own needs and in order to be a happy, healthy functioning individual I know that I need time to myself.

I spent the first ten years of my marriage trying to please my in-laws. Eventually I realized they wouldn’t be happy no matter what I did. There will always be some flaw, some issue, some problem with what I say or who I say it to. I now do and say what I want much more often. If I’m in the doghouse anyway I might as well enjoy myself on the way out the door. A few months ago I stopped worrying so much about what other people think.

I am amazed by how many of my friends still worry about how they are perceived by others. They are so afraid of the reactions of their friends and family that they stop sharing their lives with them or lie about their situations. In the end they only drive people out of their lives. They may not realize it at first, but true friends can tell each other anything. The longer people stay in the shadows the farther their lives pull apart. If people don’t react well to the truth then you may want to question why you are friends in the first place.

At the end of the day my perspective certainly helps me stay happy, but my life is also filled with lots of joy. My son, husband, family and friends all fill my world with happiness. A healthy emergency fund and money in the bank certainly helps too as does a relatively healthy body.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as happy as I am and my heart aches for my friends and family members that seem utterly miserable with their lives. Are you happy with your life? Are you miserable? What are your recommendations for those that can’t seem to find any joy in their lives? Where and how do you find joy?

Broke Professionals

Saturday 4th of August 2012

I'm so happy to be in my 30s now, because I am finally realizing that (1) people are not paying as much attention to me as I thought they were when I was in my 20s and (2) I wouldn't care even if they were! It's nice to get to a point in your life when you live for yourself, not for others.

One Frugal Girl

Saturday 4th of August 2012

I LOVED this comment so much I forwarded it on to friends!

Budget & the Beach

Wednesday 1st of August 2012

I think not caring what other people think of you is one of the biggest keys to happiness. It's also one of the hardest things to overcome. Good job!