It is called thought diffusion in psychiatric lingo. It is that weird feeling you get when what you thought was already there in the world as a part of someone else’s thoughts. It was as if there was a doppelganger who was living your life and suddenly, you got to know about him/her.
Recently, I was in a phase where I was utterly disappointed in how I was handling my life. Life seemed regular, mundane and so very average. I craved for newness, was always cribbing about how life was not what I expected.If someone told me to be thankful for the blessings that life had given me, I would have gladly snapped their head off. In short, I was having a mid life crisis. Or what I thought was midlife crisis. In my twenties, I had thought about a life of social service, idealism and simplicity. And here I was now, not even close to what my dreams were. Yes, I have a very comfortable life, a great job, lovely children and am not in dire need of money. So logically, I should have been happier, more comfortable and appreciate what life had given me. Instead, I was cranky, irritable and not sleeping well at night. Whenever I read things about how people had followed their dreams and now were ecstatically happy about it,my mood would worsen.
It was then, that I chanced upon this book “The happiness project”. Bingo! The first few lines of the book echoed what I was feeling exactly. The book, written by Gretchen Rubin, a lawyer by profession and a full time writer now, has chronicled how she went through life’s motions dysthymic, till she started on a happiness project for a year. Things which she could not change were left the same, but there were a million things which could be worked on in small tiny steps which gave a her happy feeling.
There were many things in the book which sort of did not apply to my setting. But the book and its concept held great appeal. The fog in my head seemed to clear and I was left with new enthusiasm where I knew that I was not alone and yes, there was a way to get out of this self made rut.
For those who have felt this discomfort and inertia in life, I would now think a happiness project of your own is a great idea. First of all, all that you have to do is to make a list of twelve important things that you mean to change in yourself to become happier ( well, yes, this project does not include bringing about change in others’ behavior unless you change yours first)and break it down to small directives that you ritualistically follow until it becomes a habit. For example, if you always wanted to be a clean, organized person, ten minutes of cleaning everyday with a goal in sight may make you feel jubilant as soon as the goal is reached.
The idea is definitely not new. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, zen, and a million other religions have sure theorized on this, but to apply it to today time and social structure, that is the key.
Most of us keep materialistic goals like buying a car or a house or going on a holiday as a source of gaining happiness. This is true to an extent, but to keep happiness as an end goal and personally work for it with sincerity that you would put for say a job or a deadline, that is something new.
I am beginning my happiness project now on, let me know about yours.