This is a question I have been pondering for a while now.

If I had to class myself as a person, I would say I’m an optimist half of the time, and a pessimist the other.

I couldn’t classify myself as one or the other, because I have periods when I’m optimistic about things, and others when I feel like the world is collapsing in on me.

If you asked me whether a glass was half full or half empty, my answer really would depend on my mood on that particular day. Ask the question every month for a year, and I’m not sure what the outcome would be.

Throughout my life I can count the times I have been truly happy on one hand.

When I was living in Australia, I was happy the whole time. This happiness increased when I was living in Adelaide, surrounded by great people every day.

It’s a time I look back on with fondness.

Another time was when I was living in New Zealand. Again, I was with a great bunch of people, and the country is just incredible.

If I wasn’t happy living in New Zealand there would have been something wrong with me. It’s a beautiful place. Living in Christchurch may have been difficult at times, while the city was rebuilding itself following the devastating earthquakes of 2011, but I was happy regardless.

After that, I struggle to pin other times that I was truly happy.

Maybe I am being too critical of myself. After all, what is happiness? How do you define it?

One person’s bliss could be another person’s hell.

There is no one true way to quantify happiness. It’s a feeling, something you can’t measure.

As such, it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing happiness, when you may have been happy all along without realising it.

This has been brought into sharp focus for me over the past year. Events in my life have made me realise I shouldn’t be so down on myself at times, because looking back, things weren’t all that bad.

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When I was living in Barcelona last year, it’s fair to say, I wasn’t happy.

A combination of reasons, not particularly liking the city, missing England and a restlessness which I’m not sure will ever go away, contributed to me not enjoying my time in the city as much as I should have.

Here I was, living in one of the most interesting cities in the world, and I was miserable. Boring. I wallowed in misery and self-pity.

I became so negative about living in the city that it contributed to me suffering from panic attacks for the first time in my life.

My thoughts had made me ill. I would suffer from anxiety issues for the remainder of 2017, until I sorted myself out at the start o this year.

This all stemmed from my negative attitude towards living in a city. It still amazes me how much my mindset could affect my physical health.

We tend to treat the mind and body as separate entities, much they are very much interconnected.

The ironic thing is that when I look back at my time living in Barcelona, it wasn’t that bad.

I may not have liked the city that much, but there was always something to do. Spain is a great country to live in. I had a good group of friends, one in particular, who has become like a sister to me.

Things were nowhere near as bad as my mind portrayed them. I wanted to return to England badly, but now that I am back, I can’t wait to leave!

It’s that restlessness inside of me again. I have had it inside of me for as long as I can remember.

It’s what has spurred me to travels to all the places I have, pushed me to become self-employed and made me leap out outside of my comfort zone.

But it is also my worst enemy at times. I can become critical and downhearted, because my restlessness has stirred up.

Maybe the secret to my happiness is to keep it in check. To recognise it, but not let it overwhelm and consume me.

Maybe that is the way.

A New Approach

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is 20/20.

Whenever I look back at certain points in my past, I am become nostalgic and pine to relive those times again.

If I recall my thoughts at those times. I would say 60% of the time, I would have been irritated by my state of affairs at that time.

What does that tell me about me about myself?

That I’m wistful for the past? Or that things were never actually as bad as I felt they were?

Maybe a combination of the two! But I’m more inclined to go for the latter.

The present is all we ever know. The past is a foreign country, and the future is a distant possibility.

Things may not be how I want them, but I should accept them as they are, and work towards improving them.

I may never be happy, I’m not sure I’ll know what true happiness is, until one day, it sneaks up on me and sucker punches me in the face.

Then I will know. For now, it is best to accept my lot and live my life as best as I can.

To carry on the way I have been, seeking out the negativity when I’m down, would be return to the vicious circle I have extrapolated myself from.

Life is a gift. We are all blessed to be on this Earth for the short time we exist.

To go through life being miserable would be a waste of this precious gift. People would kill to have lived the live I have and to have had the opportunities I had.

Maybe happiness comes from recognising that being happy is a forlorn pursuit. A trophy that will forever remain tantalisingly out of reach.

Maybe happiness is simply being content with what you have and the life you lead.

Maybe it really is that simple.

One day, I hope to know.

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I like to write. I like to travel. https://www.thetravellingtom.com Join my email list -> https://tomstevenson.substack.com/

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