In Buddhism there is a term absolute happiness. This is defined as ‘a state of mind in which we can feel that life itself is a joy.’
At 11.59pm on 31st December 2014, sat on my bedroom floor, I made a determination that 2015 would be the year that I became absolutely happy.
By January 21st my boyfriend of almost 3 years had dumped me, my job position had been axed hurling me into an unexpected state of unemployment and I had no real idea of where my life was headed.
Not exactly the kind of happiness I had promised myself just 3 weeks prior.
What I have come to realise now though is that for an arrow to be propelled forward, it must first be dragged backwards.
Going back to 2015, I found myself in a position with a lot of time on my hands.
With a lot of time but no money I began looking for any job that would bring in some income.
Somehow, without having any kind of formal qualifications and virtually no experience in the profession I landed a job as a Teacher.
At the time that was great. A good job, a decent salary and I hadn’t had to endure all the training that usually comes with being a Teacher. Finally! I thought, things were going in the right direction.
Once again now I see that I was deluded, caught up in a life that I thought I should be living and too influenced by people around me living the London grind. Above all I was forgetting that this was the year that I was supposed to be becoming absolutely happy.
Life as a Teacher was tough. Okay I’m being polite. Life as a Teacher was fucking horrendous.
Battling my way through each day I would come home drained. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I felt ruined. I stopped doing a lot of things that I loved to do. I fell in a routine of going to bed at 10am and getting up at 6am to do it all over again.
I felt miserable because I knew that this kind of life was not what I wanted to be doing but I couldn’t see an alternative. So I endured.
I was working 8+ hours a day for someone else and coming home and not working on myself. I wasn’t tired, I was uninspired.
One day, after a particularly rough day I came home and decided that I had had enough. I wasn’t going to continue this job and would leave at the earliest convenience.
At this point it was nearing the end of October. Nearing the end of 2015. The year that I was supposed to become absolutely happy.
With this new resolve I went in to work the next day. As ‘coincidence’ would have it (though I don’t believe in coincidence) the Deputy Principal called me in to her Office. Sitting me down she said to me that she had seen ‘a lot of potential’ in me and wanted to offer me a full-time position at the school. Not only that but she said that the school would subsidise the cost of a Masters course so that I could officially qualify as Teacher!
I almost had to stop myself from laughing there and then at the irony of it all.
Just last night I was committing to quitting and now here I was being offered a this.
The conversation had really caught me off guard so I requested some time to consider the offer so it was arranged that we would meet again the following day.
You see, when you make a decision based on the resolve to become absolutely happy, you will be put to the test. You will be tempted. You will come up against people and opportunities who will try to deter you away from getting closer to your dream and lure you into a false sense of happiness.
There are always going to be obstacles but it is exactly when this happens that you must dig deep and persevere no matter what.
So it goes without saying that I declined the offer.
I was told that I would have to leave at the end of the term, just before Christmas. (Fine with me!)
I had (and still have) a long standing dream to travel the world and write about my experiences for no other reason than it makes me happy. I want to share that happiness with others in the hope that they too can set off on their own path to becoming absolutely happy in whatever capacity that may be.
So that’s what I decided to do.
When all of this was going on I remember telling someone about the offer that the school made me and about my decision to turn it down to go travelling. This person said to me ‘why would you turn down such a good opportunity? Travelling can wait.’
I just smiled. It reminded me of something that I had read before, a little parable that I once read. A little parable that rooted itself in the depths of my life and has now began to bloom. I would like to share it with you now. I hope that it reaches you and helps you to live in the same way that it has helped me to live!
There once was a business man who was sitting on the beach in a small village. As he sat, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite a few big fish. The business man was impressed and asked the fisher man ‘how long does it take you to catch so many fish?’ The fisherman replied ‘ oh, just a short while.’ ‘Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?’ The business man was astonished. ‘This is enough to feed my whole family’ the fisherman responded. The business man then asked ‘ so what do you do for the rest of the day?’ The fisherman responded, ‘ well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my children. In the afternoon I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my friends in the village for a drink- we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.’
The business man offered a suggestion to the fisherman. ‘I could help you become a more successful person. From now on your should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money you could buy a bigger boat and catch more fish. Soon you will be able to buy more boats, set up your own company then you can move out of this village and move to a big city and set up more branches.’ The fisherman asked ‘ and after that?’ The business man laughed, ‘after that you can live like a King in your own house and you will be rich!’ The fisherman asks again ‘ and after that?’ The business man says ‘after that you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with your children, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife and when evening comes you can join your buddies for a drink. play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!’
The fisherman was puzzled, ‘isn’t that what I am doing now?’