Written by Maeve Belshaw - Co-founder of Soulful Soundwaves
The other day I came across a fantastic animation, called Alike, with a very powerful message. There’s not one word muttered, but the animation delivered its message loud and clear. If you missed the video, here it is again:
Colour. We all think of colour differently. It’s a personal thing. We may have a favourite colour to wear and we may see colour and shades very differently. But what this short video is illustrating is the importance to keep the colour alive within ourselves. The fire. The love. The joy. That passion for life. And it shows how our colour and happiness can deeply affect others.
Is your daily routine affecting your happiness and those around you?
Society as we know it can have a hindering effect on our internal fire, if we let it take control.
The system in which we have had to conform with since when we started school, has been subliminally dictating what ‘success’ looks like. Whether that’s grades, being picked for the school band, a scholarship to the best university or the next promotion at work. There are always certain criteria we’ve had to meet in order to move to the next level or be given the ‘tick of approval’. Is success really about being the best at something? Being better at something than someone else? Having a better job or a higher income? Or is it about being happy?
Talking from a personal experience, school for me was a bit of a struggle. I loved the social aspect, but I wasn’t the student that the blanket learning approach of reading books, studying numbers and sitting exams worked for. And as a result, I was always considered ‘average’ in terms of grades and tiers at schools. No matter how hard I tried, I would never be as good as my friends.
Feeling ‘average’ from such a young age had a HUGE impact on me. And it definitely faded my colour from a very early age. I feared every exam, every essay I had to write and every event where I would be compared to others in terms of literacy. Luckily I found sport, which I was good at, but could I really play netball for the rest of my days?
I didn’t realise the impact school had on me, until recently. That urge to never feel 'average' again made me super determined in my career. For years, I worked so hard to be in a great job and it wasn’t until I found myself working for the company I had always wanted to work for did I start reflecting. Yes I was in a great job and had proved to myself and to others I wasn’t average, but was I happy?
The sad truth was no. I was underweight, stressed and struggling to sleep. I had completely surrendered my inner happiness to my working life. I was anxious and had become grey without realising it. But not only did it consume me, the way I was feeling was also affecting others. My unhappiness crept into my personal life and was impacting relationships with family, friends and the people I came into contact with. That’s when I felt the deep responsibility to change. My problems and unhappiness shouldn't affect others and I started my journey on the quest to get my colour back. I was surviving life, rather than living life.
When was the last time you paused and reflected on your own happiness? How is your happiness affecting your interaction with your family and children? Is it impacting their happiness?
I knew I wasn’t as happy as I should have been and here’s how I started to get that colour back in my life:
I had to acknowledge what made me happy – really happy. I thought about all the things that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling of happiness and wrote them down. In my case, it wasn’t my job, my monthly income, or the newest Apple gadget, it was spending time with family and friends, walking in nature and finding a job with a more meaningful purpose.
It was alright having a list of all the things that made me happy, but I needed to make a plan to make sure I started to do more of them in my day-to-day life. I needed to balance my current work situation with things that brought me joy. I looked at the list and prioritised them. Where did I see myself in a year’s time and what little steps did I have to put in place to get there. What little promises was I going to make to hold myself accountable? And what would I voice to family and friends so it became less an idea and more of a plan.
Then it was time to put my plan into practice. I started doing more and more things that made me happy, at least once a day. I could finally feel the colour returning. Work wasn’t as consuming, I wasn’t bringing it home and it wasn’t interrupting my personal life. My priority changed from work led, to life led and I could feel my happiness starting to radiate out to others. Personally, I don’t think this stage ever ends. I still make sure I take time to nurture myself, as I know the consequences if I leave it too long. Meditation, listening to binaural beats and regular yoga have been a massive contributor to my transformation in realising how to work with the mind, nurture it and love it. It's a powerful tool and I took it for granted.
I understand it isn't easy to make significant changes to our jobs that provide financial security for us and our families, but it's important to balance the necessities with happiness. We want to do the best for our family and understanding how our happiness impacts them should be one of our priorities. I'm hoping my experience can in some way help you and please share any comments below. For now, I leave you with a quote from a wise music legend...
Source: Video and images in this blog are from CGI 3D Animated Alike Short Film directed by Daniel Martínez Lara & Rafa Cano Méndez. Featured on http://www.alike.es.