I watched a movie recently, for the first time in a long time. Whilst I have been travelling I haven’t watched much TV at all, I have preferred to get out and about and when indoors, have used the free time to blog about the travels. This photo was taken probably a month and a half ago in St Kilda, south of Melbourne’s CBD. The nature of the photo reminded me of the film I am talking about.
The movie was Hector and the Search for Happiness. I will add a spoiler alert here, so if you are wanting to watch it maybe do so before reading further. It is about Hector (played by Simon Pegg), bored of his current existence and career, questioning if he is really happy in life. He then goes on a quest for happiness, one destination at a time whilst his girlfriend stays at home reluctantly waiting for him. It is a feel good movie and made me think about what I would consider happiness to be.
So, the spoiler. I have warned you!
The movie concludes that happiness isn’t just one emotion, it is all of our emotions. This may sound a little confusing, however the wheel above helps me to make sense of this and give my insight as to what I take from this message.
The stormy skies and beams of light breaking through gives this image- for me at least- a sense of hope and optimism. Which is why it made me think of the movie. Imagine life is this wheel, instead of a long road. Also, imagine the wheel with a clock face.
Let’s say 12 is happiness. Bliss, joy, euphoria, whatever happiness is to you. 3 o’clock can be mental pain, a loss, a breakup, a fight with a loved one. 6 o’clock is physical pain, surgery, a work injury, illness. Lastly 9 o’clock can be personal development, maybe improving ourselves by going to the gym or quitting a bad habit. Something not easy, but very rewarding in the long term. Between these numbers is every other emotion and experience linking these together, as each and every experience varies in size and duration. There isn’t a universal standard of emotional experience for any of us.
We are all born on this wheel. And with that, we will always reach the heights of happiness. Every single one of us. But none of us will stay there. Like anything in life, these experiences will come and go and are never permanent. As unpleasant as this may seem to think about, it can be very liberating to acknowledge.
To get back to happiness, we have to experience everything else life throws at us. Whether this is a unsuccessful job application or sickness, knowing this is only a temporary feeling should help us to keep going and get through the hard times. If anything, the lower we feel means the chances are our next step is going to be a brighter one. Time heals everything. And although time seems to stand still during dark moments, these moments are as temporary as any other. The night can be daunting, or with a closer look can be magical. It can provide an view we would never see with the light of day, and prevent us from fearing that sun going down once more.
No one is exempt from this either. Just because someone else is experiencing happiness doesn’t mean they won’t hit every other number on the clock. We all get on this wheel at different times, and with this experience different emotions depending on where we are in life. Someone feeling the bliss at the top will have to feel the lows at the bottom. It doesn’t always seem this way as when we feel low, the joys of everyone else seem so apparent. But the joys we feel when it is our time feel too good to compare to the lives of others and often we are too busy enjoying life to want to compare with others. This is a good thing. However it does give the illusion that others feel happiness more than us when it is their turn. But that is just that. An illusion. And if it isn’t, like so many successful people in life, the prolonged time away from happiness can only be a motivator to strive for success. Sometimes the distance from comfort and joy motivates us to get there quicker than we ever would have. And experience it much more than we would have.
So this is my take on life. We all share turns at the top, and to get back there have to experience than sinking feeling once in a while. But knowing we will have to experience this ride and feel it all over again, instead of picturing life as a path with the hope of not experiencing the low spells, is more liberating to me. And preparing instead of evading helps me to get through when the time comes.
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