Happiness is the bottom line

I spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting on life. About ten years ago when trying to work out ‘what it was all about’ I came to the conclusion that all any of us really wants is to be happy.

So for many years I tried lots of different things in order to get closer to my happy. I packed my schedule full of activities in order to work out, by trial and error, what would lead me in the right direction. In many ways this exploration worked, I learnt that working in a magazine company did not make me happy, I learnt that working in a pie shop also, did not make me happy. I learnt that when I ran I felt happy, and that the more I helped people in various contexts, the more I stepped into that happy zone…

What I know now however is that there is an easier route to finding out what makes you happy. This route is about looking inwards. Acknowledging and crucially, accepting who you are and making decisions from that point makes it much easier to pick out what is going to help you on the happy path.

For many of us however, the difficulty lies in accepting the whole range of who we are.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research into the idea of introversion and extroversion. I’ve learnt that in many respects I lean towards introversion (loving spending time on my own, being a thinker, being empathetic in nature, being fairly sensitive to images, smells and sounds) but I also have very extrovert tendencies as well, I love travelling and adventure, and I feel in my element at many social gatherings.

I’ve been devouring all of this new information about who I am, (mostly via Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet‘) what my temperament was as a child and whether my introverted and extroverted tendencies are in-built or learnt. I’ve been wondering whether I’ve suppressed my introverted side because society is less tolerant of such qualities as sensitivity and quietness. Even sharing and owning the introverted qualities as I did above feels difficult. It feels much easier to tell you that I love to travel and I’m good at parties, at this stage I feel more proud of those parts of who I am.

However I’m concerned I’ve neglected whole pieces of who I am over the years, and have started to wonder what avenues I shut myself off from by denying myself the full exploration of my introversion.

Looking back over my life so far I can see where I’ve played a regular tug of war over wanting to stand on stage and be seen, and wanting to spend hour upon hour getting lost in my own thoughts. On reflection my extroverted self often won, forcing introverted Hannah to go out when she didn’t really want to, or answer a question in class when her heart was practically jumping out of her chest. Hence why my previous approach to finding happiness was about searching ‘out there’ rather than ‘in here.’

I believe, therefore, that happiness is about looking at who we are, first and foremost. We all have an introverted side to us, for some much more than others, but that introverted side is the part that gives you access to self-reflection. Once you allow yourself the gift of self-reflection you can work out, and accept who you really are. And when you can see and accept who you really are, you can go out there and head straight towards those things that make you really happy.

When it’s all said and done, all we all really want is to feel happy.

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