By Sumitha Bhandarkar
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” ~Jim Rohn
Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent the better part of my life chasing after happiness. It always seemed like happiness stayed just a tad bit out of my grasp—somewhere in the future that I could always see, but not quite touch.
For instance, when I was a kid, I believed I’d be happy if I got an admission into a good college. In college, I believed that I’d be happy if I got a good job. When I got a job, I believed that I’d be happy if I got a promotion and a raise. And on and on it went.
Every time I reached a goal, it seemed like the next goal was where true happiness lay.
Sadly, this affected my personal life as well. I thought, “When I find a great guy, I’ll be happy. Wait, to be truly happy, we need to first get married. Being married is great, but we need to have kids to find real joy. Gosh, our baby needs to grow up a little so we can really enjoy being with her…” And so on.
For more than thirty-five years, I’ve chased happiness on this path, not realizing what a futile chase it was.
And then, about two years back, I was abruptly jolted out of it.
One evening, on a day that had started out like any other, I found myself at the hospital with my three-year-old daughter in tow, waiting outside the emergency room that my husband lay in.
After a week at the hospital, my husband came out okay. However, it fundamentally changed the way I look at life.
For the first time I saw the futility of our chase. I still believe that goals are important and we should strive to achieve them. But now, I see them more as mile markers in life’s journey, not having much to do with happiness.
Happiness, it turns out, is not something we go after. It’s something already within us. We just need to clear up some clutter to find it.
The two years that followed have been an amazing journey of slowly letting go of some of that clutter in the quest to find the true happiness within. It’s still a work-in-progress, but here are the things I’ve been striving to let go.
1. Let go of trying to control everything.
The only thing that we can truly control is our own attitude and reactions. Once we accept that, we can find happiness right where we are, irrespective of how things turn out. This was perhaps the hardest but the most necessary part of the transformation for me.
2. Let go of trying to please everyone.
Every time we pretend to be someone, it takes us away from our true selves, and from o