Should happiness be so hard?

I think that a lot of the things I’ve been spending time on over the last few years are in the pursuit of happiness. I know that sounds obvious, because what else is life but one long chase of those moments that make your heart sing? But sometimes I feel like when I wake up, there is a pit of emptiness in my stomach, and I spend my days trying to fill it.  I get the odd peek at some of the things that start to pad out that feeling of vastness inside. Yoga, seeing friends and family, writing and being creative, moments of solitude (though not for too long, as busy brain tends to creep in).  I don’t get to do any of these as much as I would like, and I constantly complain of being ‘busy’ without always being able to explain what I fill my time with.  I think I’m always busy because I am always trying to find those things that will perfectly fill that gap.

Stephen Covey wrote about the ‘big rocks’ in life – where your life is an empty jar, and you fill it with big rocks first, then you can add gravel, sand, water; all the small things that make up life.  Every time you think it’s full you can add more of the small stuff.  The point isn’t that you can always fit more stuff in (though that is pretty much how I’ve been living my life lately) but the point is that you have to get the ‘big rocks’, the stuff that matters, in first, otherwise the small stuff will fill it up and you won’t be able to fit them in.  I try so hard with the small stuff – the gratitude journal, the endless self-help books stacked up on my bedside cabinet, the yoga classes I do manage to get to, the morning runs, the cookbooks and the rich foods, the holidays, the new hobbies, the gym routines, the new clothes and beauty products…. but it never seems to fill that void.  I still find myself searching for those big rocks to make me feel full and content.

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I have trouble with December and January (see here), and when Mercury is in retrograde, and on rainy days, and dark days, and cold days.  When I spend too much time with people, and when I spend too much time alone. When I think too much, and when I don’t spend enough time reflecting. I have read that happiness is a muscle you have to build, and flex, and it takes work.  I have read The Happiness Project and I am trying to declutter, and have a capsule wardrobe, and ‘be Rosie’, and lighten up, and be grateful, and generally invest time and energy into being happy. I am trying so hard! But the muscles aren’t quite there yet. I’m checking myself in the mirror but I can’t see any changes.

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I know that you will think that I have so much to be happy about, and so much to fill that feeling in my stomach. I agree. I have my health, I have a lovely husband, we are lucky enough to own a house in the beautiful New Forest, I have a nice car, we have Bodhi dog, I have a good job, food on the table, books on the bookshelf, a loving family, and an enormous amount that others aren’t lucky enough to have. Please don’t think that I don’t count my lucky stars for these things, every day.  I know that for most people, they are the big rocks. But I guess this hole in my belly yearns for more. I just don’t know what ‘more’ looks like at the moment. I feel so selfish for wanting the ‘more’ – I know that our grandparents were taught to graft and work hard, and that happiness was a good meal and a comfortable bed. I curse my type A personality that is always eyeing up the next challenge, the next shiny penny, walking fast and talking fast and filling my diary with the next thing that might be my ‘more’. But still I keep on searching and trying to fill that empty place that wakes me up in the night, and washes over me when I wake up. And I keep asking myself, should happiness be this hard?

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