My brother in law was shocked to see a hoard of diving equipment stacked neatly against the wall in my grandmother’s house, but this wasn’t the time to investigate further.
He had to get the front door open.
My grandmother spent her whole adult life living in a very old, tall, house. When she became very elderly she became a little deaf but she always phoned my mother on a Sunday evening to assure all was well.
One week, there was no call.
My mother became increasingly frantic when she couldn’t get any response and my stepfather and brother in law, were dispatched to investigate.
There was no answer to their fist-pounds on the door so the police advised them to force their way in through the back door. And that was when my brother in law discovered the diving equipment.
Rushing past, he flung open the front door and was surprised to see there was no one waiting outside. He leant out into the street. My stepfather and the police officer were stood outside a house a few doors further down.
He hadn’t realised the back gardens of the houses sloped back at an angle and he had broken into the wrong house!
Thankfully all was well with my grandmother.
How many of us do this?
We think the new home, the expensive holiday, the snazzy car will make us happy. And yes, they certainly bring a short-term thrill.
Think of even more simple pleasures – a walk in the woods, laughing with a friend. These can bring a calmer pleasure.
All of these examples from the materialistic quick shot to the more experiential pleasures of the soul, all seem to lift our mood. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying them for what they are.
But do they really make us happy? Could it be that we too are knocking on the wrong door?
It’s an easy and understandable assumption to make.
We’re taught from such a young age that what’s “out there” can make us happy, sad, angry or peaceful.
The excitement of a birthday party makes us happy, the dreary, long, rainy wet afternoon lead to boredom and frustration.
But what if this is one huge mistake? Because the truth is, there is nothing outside us which has the power to make us feel anything.
We’ve all come across people who are gloomy sat on a beautiful beach. We all know of those who remain cheery and upbeat despite difficult circumstances.
Because it’s never the “what’s out there” that effects our mind. I know it looks that way, because it’s become such an ingrained habit of ours but our feelings come from another source.
Our feelings come directly from our thoughts.
Compare stuck in traffic = “I’m going to be late, I’ll be in such trouble. I can’t stop myself getting worried.” with stuck in traffic = “I’m going to be late but I’ll sit here and take a chance to relax”.
So our happiness is created by our thoughts.
Turn your attention away from the lure of the outside world, for a moment, to the inwards, to you.
Up for an experiment?
Don’t take my word for this if it’s all shockingly new. Start to play detective to your thoughts.
Mentally stand back and create a little space between them and notice what your thoughts are as the emotions come and go.
Observe how some days your work can make you angry, on others, elated. Pay attention to how your partner’s jokes can seem funny in one moment and irritating the next.
Start to listen to what’s going on in your head.
To find happiness, don’t knock on the door of trying to gain things or control your outside world, knock on the door instead of turning inwards and noticing your own inner world.
This is where true happiness is created or destroyed.
If you’re fed up with knocking on the wrong doors for happiness and know you want to do more with your midlife (and beyond) even if at the moment you haven’t the foggiest what that might look like, get on a free Flourish call with me.
Together we’ll explore what your version of a great midlife looks like and we’ll get you moving forward.
My guarantee: You will make progress during our conversation.
We'll also talk about whether 1:1 coaching with me is the right next step for you. For details of my current coaching package there is more info here.
I look forward to talking to you.