You know when you’re REALLY happy with life? I don’t just mean when you realize it once as you sit with your legs dangling off a dock into a lake at your family’s summer house. I mean when you consistently realize, day after day, that you’re truly content. It doesn’t have to be constant ecstasy. It’s just a constant elevated baseline: you’re happy.
There’s one phenomenon I’ve noticed when you’re really happy: You don’t do everything, and you don’t even think about it.
Let me clarify. I’ve been really happy for the past couple months. Last week, I realized that I had straight up FORGOTTEN to work out for over a week. This isn’t the best thing for me, since I need exercise to manage my anxiety and to feel energized and feed my happiness. But I hadn’t avoided exercise: I’d just…forgotten. I was happy, living life day to day, and not worrying about what I “should” be doing.
I generally hate Carrie’s dumb articles on ‘Sex and the City,’ but she had one really good line that has resonated with me for years. She asks, “Are we should-ing all over ourselves?”
Yeah, this is a pun on poo, but it’s a pretty good point. We stop ourselves from contentedness by placing all these expectations — these “shoulds” — on ourselves. Goals are important and exciting and help us #GetThingsDone, but goals are ideally focused around progress that’s proven to make people better and that makes sense for you.
Shoulds stop us from feeling good about ourselves. Shoulds tell us that we aren’t ever good enough. Shoulds are the enemy of happiness.
I began leaning into my regular achievements and letting that be enough. This transformed my life and allowed me to be happy; it also made me a more effective friend and employee (amongst other things).
When you are #blessed enough to be at a happy place in your life, savor it. Don’t dampen it with shoulds. We tend to think that happiness is unmerited if we’re mid-career rather than on top, or if we have a lot of friends but no romantic partner. Guess what? Happiness is TOTALLY merited. Preexisting happiness makes that eventual promotion or relationship SO much sweeter. Seriously. Take my word for this. You know all that advice that “you have to love yourself first?” That applies to all areas of your life. Your boss won’t buy stock in you unless you’re a shareholder as well. That cute guy isn’t dreaming about the girl who is embarrassed to be herself.
Don’t should. If you have achieved your goals and have become a version of yourself that YOU like, celebrate it. You’re enough.