Some of the wisest people claim that true happiness comes from self-knowledge. If this is true, how do we truly get to understand who we are? Its more than what we do or even how we think. It’s a process that may take a lifetime. But for those who invest the time, its a worthwhile journey.
What forms us?
Our lives are a series of moments from the distant past, recent events and present moments. It is up to us to decide how to weave our stories into our present. Everyone has hopes, dreams and wishes for the future that may not come. Every individual is more than what he has done or what she will do. In the search for true happiness, we have to know ourselves.
The present is all we have in front of us. Honestly, all are broken in some form or fashion. Maybe we have done bad things in the past and made poor decisions. People hurt others and behave selfishly. Maybe you are hurt or scarred in ways that are hard to overcome.
We are both beauty and darkness
Regardless of all of the bad moments and unhappiness in our past, we are also creatures capable of beautiful thoughts, love and kindness. We can change what we were into who we want to be; who we are intended to be. The past is gone, but we can shape what is to come.
I am a selfish, moody, emotional, woman who has allowed others to hurt, use and manipulate me. In turn, I have also used people to get what I want. There is no pride in the poor choices I have made or the harm I have inflicted. I also have a very poor self image and hate myself, which has truly damaged my relationships. But in spite of the ugliness within, I learning there is compassion and truth inside of me.
Our brokenness can be our strength
I am nurturing, caring, considerate and compassionate. I can feel the pain of others and want to ease suffering. We are all a beautiful mess. One can choose to fail or succeed in relationships and in life. No one can fix every physical shortcoming, but that we can heal the brokenness inside. Though I have more cracks in my shell than I realized, I am not the broken vase that is beyond mending.
There is a proverb in Japanese culture about damaged pottery. Such items would not be discarded just because they developed cracks. Instead, the Japanese would fill them or immerse them in melted gold. When it was cool, the gold within the cracks made the vase more beautiful and stronger as well. For many of us, traumas and pain that we endured in the past help us develop empathy and understanding in ways that others may lack.
Find what resonates in your soul
So, how do we truly learn to know ourselves? We can’t just sit for five minutes and come to a sudden epiphany. True happiness comes from self-knowledge gained by searching for what resonates within you. What feels most natural to you? What attracts you in life? When you have to push past negative thoughts or feelings to engage in certain activities, you are going against your true self.
Granted, we all must do things from time to time that we don’t like or makes us uncomfortable. However, many of these things are for the benefit of a loved one. Maybe you hate public speaking, but if your closest friend asks you to make a public toast, you dig deep and do it.
We all have an innate sense of what feels right for us. Going along with a crowd just to fit in, is not being true to what you are. People are not meant to be alike. We are created to be uniquely different, with our own strengths and weaknesses. It may be easier to deny that inner intuition, but it’s there for a reason.
True Happiness does come from within
We have all heard someone tell us that they just want to make us happy. Truth is, no one person or thing can actually make us happy. Falling in love, landing the perfect job, buying the house you dreamed of…these all bring feelings of happiness. Sadly, that feeling will fade over time. We cannot derive true happiness from anything outside of ourselves.
We are only truly happy when we are in harmony with who we were created to be. There is no one right answer to this quest. Who I am is not who you are supposed to be. Trying to mold ourselves after a role model will only bring misery. Money and success do not buy happiness. These things can sometimes relief pressure, but of themselves, they are merely adjectives.
I don’t have the answer for you. No one else can walk your path in life for you. But, each and every one of us has the tools inside of us to find that happiness. All it takes is time, patience and a willingness to let life teach us. All I can offer is this: true happiness comes from self-knowledge. The good news is, school is always in session.