For some reason this question was swilling around in my head yesterday. It all came about because I had this flash yesterday afternoon, this thought came into my head, totally out of the blue - I am happy. Not just content. Not just dealing with my lot. But actually, genuinely happy.
So I started trying to think why I was happy. I hadn't just won the lottery. I hadn't miraculously morphed into having the perfect figure, face or hair. I wasn't suddenly living in my dream house. I hadn't just landed the perfect job.
None of these things had happened, but I suddenly realised I was happy. This is what led to it - yesterday morning I had had a lovely morning playing with C and the new baby I am looking after, the two of them were gorgeousness itself, giggling and talking to each other. Then when they were napping I did some background things for this blog. Just before 3.30pm I left the house to go and collect L and the other little girl I childmind from school, and that's when it hit me. It was cold and clear, one of those perfect winter days, And suddenly I just realised, I am totally happy.
I am working as a childminder, not exactly my dream job or where I thought I'd be when I did a degree in French & Spanish all those years ago, not what I thought I'd be doing when I was working as a global marketing director, nor when I was running my own luxury travel agency. BUT it is where I want to be and what I want to be doing now.
I get to spend time with my children, to see them grow up and change every day, I get to help make my children and other peopleís children happy too, I get time to be creative and do some ìmeî stuff on this blog and elsewhere when the babies are napping, and I get to be my own boss again.
I bought my own house when I was 25, sold it three years later and made a big profit. I bought another house when I was 28, sold it when I was 32 and made another big profit. Since then, I've lived at my parents (with my husband and then three-year-old daughter) for three months, as we chose to move back to the UK with no jobs and no home, and we now live in a rented house with no plans to buy in the foreseeable future.
I am nearly 38 years old, I have been pregnant and given birth twice, I most definitely do not have the face, hair or body of a 20 year old (cue wobbly tummy, eye bags, wrinkles, grey thinning hair).
My husband has just resigned from his job in order to focus on his own business for the next year, so financially we are worse off than we have been in quite a few years. And we now have two children to think about/pay for this time round too.
But do you know what? Despite the lack of perfect job, dream house, pots of money, an ideal physical appearance I am happy.
So I reckon this is what happiness is. It's being happy in who you are, what you are, what you do, who you are with and your day to day life. It's realising that you are not going to have the Jones' life next door, that you're not going to have that A list celebrity's bank balance, or a model's looks or figure, and that you may never land that 'dream' job (which might end up making you miserable anyway).
So if I've got a message to pass on to anyone reading this who isn't happy, it's this:
learn to be happy with who you are and what you are. Change the things you can change but beware that this may not make you happy - losing those 10 pounds may not be the secret to everlasting joy, moving house may just move your sadness with you. But do leave that partner who is making you unhappy, and do change that job that is making you miserable.
Go forth and be happy!
I am English, I moved to France when I was 22, marrying a Frenchman and raising 2 half English half French daughters. Since 2010 our Franglais family has been living in London with our French dog, French cat, and two English cats in a very Franglais way.
Blogs at: Franglaise Mummy