I used to think I was doing life wrong, that I was failing at something, or at times, everything!
I had assigned the wrong target on my ideal life-compass. I had foolishly assigned the target 'Happy' and because I wasn't 'happy' (some, actually most of the time) I was failing. For whatever reason I couldn't quite get all my ducks to line up. And if I did manage to, it wasn't something I could sustain.
It was my experience that we should live a happy life, full of fulfilment, joy, contentment and picket fences. I was hearing this from all angles...gurus, instagram, movies, books.
And as a consequence of this misplaced perspective, I constructed a narrative which simply confounded that I had got it wrong and that the majority of my days were duds as they hadn't lived-up to the 'happy' narrative. I rarely (if ever) would say, in a response to someones question "did you have a good day?" "Hmmm not really" or at best, "hmmm yeah not too bad"
I wasn't hitting the target set by society's narrative!
This somewhat negative perspective became my default.
Two things happened which change my thinking and changed my life.
1. I got bored of my default.
I wasn't an inherently depressive person or someone who revelled in sadness so I decided to tune into how I responded to those frequent niceties such as, "how are you today?" and decide if my default response was truely reflective of how I felt in that moment/day. I simply became aware of my words and feelings and how they intercepted.
I noticed that my responses and feelings (more often than not) didn't correlate and so I was emitting the wrong narrative. I mentally chalked-up the good days against the legitimately shit days and turned out I was having more good days than shit days. Important to note that my 'good days' weren't days that were drenched in happiness but rather a notch or two lower down the scale and defined more as simply 'good' or 'ok'...that was enough for me.
My personal narrative on life changed for the better.
2. I was alerted to the idea that life is a series of hardships, grief, traumas, disappointment, and challenges by Dr Jordan Peterson. Rather than attempting to avoid the hardships, it's being resilient to all that life can throw at you which is the key. The crucial thing is to have purpose, which is born out of responsibility, to buttress against life's shitstorm.
On the surface, this perspective sounds negative or pessimistic but in my experience it's real, it actually lifted the weight off my shoulders caused by not living a 'happy' life, blissfully skipping from one adventure to another. This different narrative has, by virtue of shifting my perspective, made my life better.
Personally I've been confronted and dealt with death, depression, failings, financial hardship, injuries, stress...the list goes on. I bet you could all reel off a list of disasters and tricky life events. We bounce from one to the next.
Life is hard!
This realisation was a relief to me.
Life is simply dealing with and solving problems/issues. Just when you've solved one problem another presents itself and when you realise there's not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow the relief is profound.
Now I've set my life's compass to purpose and meaning which is masked in a plenitude of ways, from parenthood, work, keeping my house in order and training. It's not one single 'purpose' but an accumulation and amalgam of things that provide me with the resilience to buttress against life's shitstorm.
And when the 'happy' moments do drop-in it's a wonderful thing, but just like all things, it too shall pass.
Hope this perception helps you as much as it has me.
Worth a watch: https://youtu.be/4OmC6LyO5QI