I have always wondered why there are so many unhappy people around me. In Romania, being discontent with everything around us is almost like a virtue. We despise everything and everyone. Then I went to Western Europe and I saw that people are different, they are more content with their lives and they are happier. Of course I wondered what the difference was. At first I thought it’s due to the poverty and to the fact that people have always worried about how they will live tomorrow. But in the last two decades things have improved and I did not notice much change in people’s state of mind. I see the same discontent with their lives and with other people as I did twenty years ago so I drew the conclusion that the two are not related.
Then I went to Thailand and I saw people that are simply and genuinely happy, even if their means for survival are limited. Again, it seems that the material means and happiness are not related. So, what is the cause of this constant discontent I see all around me?
The answer came, as usual I might add, from analyzing myself and my behavior. I noticed that I am always happy during my vacation but when I come back, I instantly start worrying and I deliberately induce stress on myself. As a result I make myself unhappy. Of course, I wondered why, because there was no logical explanation for this. My work is not so stressful and the fact that I was stressing myself even before arriving at work made no sense. After some more reflection I realized that I was unconsciously reproducing a childhood pattern. As a child, I spent my vacations at my grandmother’s house, in a village near my parent’s town. For me, the little house in the country side was like the Garden of Eden. My grandmother was like an angel, she never schooled me, she almost never forbade me to do things and I never felt I was not measuring up to her expectations. She truly knew how to raise a happy child.
When the vacation ended I would go back to my parent’s house in the town. Things were different there, I was schooled for not doing things right and there was always some pressure of some sort. Of course my parents wanted only the best for me and they wanted me to succeed in life so that I would be happy, but they never thought of the consequences of the constant pressure they were putting on me. So each time the vacation ended and I had to go back home, I would start stressing myself in order to cope with the pressure that was expecting me. See the pattern?
You are probably wondering why we act like this and we continue to repeat the same patterns over and over again. Well, most of the times we do not even realize it. We just live our lives as they come and blame others or the environment for our unhappiness. It takes self-analysis, we need to question everything we feel and do in order to find the patterns. And even after we find them, change is hard. We are afraid, our mind tells us that the way we lived so far may not be the best way, but it is something we know, something that helped us survive until now. Changing our patterns brings us to a brand new, unknown lifestyle. Who knows what dangers are awaiting for us if we change? And because of this uncertainty the new behavior brings, it takes even more effort to make the actual change.
But even with all these difficulties, change is not impossible. It is hard and it takes a lot of conscious effort for a long period of time to change the patterns, but it is not impossible. And we have to realize that we are not doing the change only for ourselves, we are doing it for the people around us as well. We have all seen happy, positive people around us and we know what effect they have on our state of mind. Emotions are contagious and by spreading positive feelings we please the people around us and we have a greater chance to receive the same from them.
Also, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is for our children. A stressed and unhappy parent will create a stressful environment for his children. The way we raise our children predetermine a lot of their behavior as adults. Think about what influence you have on your children and what kind of patterns you create in them. How can you help them be happy grownups?
I think this is what happened for most Romanians. We have been raised unhappy by unhappy parents, we continue to be unhappy as adults, we will raise unhappy children which will do the same with their children and the drama continues. The only way to stop this legacy is to make the conscious effort I was talking about earlier. Each and every one of us has the power to put an end to this vicious inheritance. We can help our children be happy in the future not by putting pressure on them to learn and to be the best at whatever activity we choose, but by teaching them happiness and allowing them to be themselves from the day they are born to the day we leave them.
We all want what‘s best for our children and the way we can make their lives better is by bettering ourselves, by making that conscious effort.
I wish you strength and best of luck trough your journey!