The Importance of What Makes You Happy

“Never take life too seriously. It’s not like anyone makes it out alive.” We only get one shot at this life. It’s not going to last forever, so why don’t we enjoy our time here on Earth? Why is it we accept an unhappy existence, doing what we don’t enjoy?

Everyone tells us throughout our lives to be happy and do what you want. We nod our heads and agree but do we really do it? Are we selfish for the right reasons? Are we able to put aside our fears for moments of pleasure?

Now before we move further, I am by no means telling you to live recklessly and irresponsibly. Just because you do things for yourself doesn’t always mean there has to be a financial cost behind it. I think a lot of our issue in society is we have lost sight of the truly important things and warped our reality around materialistic items and value.

Sure, we all want the newest iPhone, or the latest model car or the designer clothes. Those things all have their place in our lives. To have nice things is something we all deserve, but there are more important things in this world.

Let’s be less shallow and really please our soul, because that’s what we deserve and truth be told, thats what we are really after.

For me personally, my big thing is seeing the sunset. I think sunsets are one of the most beautiful things that this world gives to us. I love to walk along the water on the beach as the light softens and stop and sit to marvel at the array of colours the world gives us. This really started for me when my mom got sick. I came out to Australia and lived a 3 minute walk from a quiet beach. I would walk down each afternoon and sit there. With all of the turmoil in my life, I always had an hour of peace as I watched the sunsets. My circumstances didn’t hurt as much as they did during the rest of the days and nights because my soul- my spirit, was at peace.

Life is all about balance. We need to work our jobs to make money to pay our bills and have a sustainable living and I understand that. We all have responsibilities that need to be taken care of, whether that’s looking after our children, pets, family members, etc. However, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of those that need our help. One of the most important metaphors I have learned to live by is to not give away all of your bricks until you’ve built your own house.

Carlie and I are passionate about helping people. We know that everyone needs help at one time or another and we do our best to help everyone that we can. Early in our relationship, we both needed to adjust to having a partner who was helping others as much as the other. The energy that was being exhausted was taking a toll on us individually and collectively. We stopped doing things for ourselves. Our lives became our own training, followed by helping others around our club or friends we met along the way. You start to burn into your batteries and it benefits no one.

I am trying to maintain a new balance in my life. For so long I put things I wanted to do to the side for basketball. Make no mistake about it, I am not complaining about it because at the end of the day, the outcome I wanted from basketball outweighed the desire of what I was giving up, but nonetheless there was sacrifice. At times, I had a poor balance, not giving the attention and care to myself and giving it all to basketball.

Since deciding to change the trajectory of my life, I have found a new freedom within me. I am significantly happier and lighter in my every day life. I don’t have reservations about having a beer when out to dinner or to go for a walk in nature now that I don’t have to worry about how long I am on my feet throughout the day. I am doing what I want to and when I want to do it. Some days I get the urge to just pick up my camera and go to one of the national parks where we live, and so I do. My soul is finding the peace and happiness it deserves.

I think many of us are damaged and we don’t want to admit it. This makes society a potentially toxic place, with people lashing out in their own unhappiness. Life is stressful, it can be difficult, but at the end of the day, it is what we make of it. To change the world we must first change ourselves.

So please, have that wine at dinner once in a while, have that slice of cake. Take the time to go for a walk, watch the sunset or wake up early for the sunrise. Go to the gym or get your hair and nails done. Set time aside each week for the hobby you keep telling yourself you don’t have time for (we all know we do have the time after our weekly screen report each week.) Do things that will make you feel good about yourself and see the immense change unfold.

More importantly, what we can do in our own lives, we need to have the right people around us. One of the boys that I coach hit me with something the other week that stopped me dead in my tracks and I was so proud of him.

He is 13 years old and when I met him he was in a group of ten or so boys that were a close knit friend group. As we all know, time goes on and we evolve as people. Circumstances will change and friendships form and dissolve. This group of boys is no different.

As of recent, a few of the boys have decided to bully some of the other boys. They are getting to that age where this is common place, as they all enter those awkward years, trying to standout from the rest. One day before our training session we were just having a talk and he told me he doesn’t hang out with those friends anymore. When I asked him why not, he told me what was going on and said so simply, “They made me feel sad and I didn’t like that. So I decided to hang out with people that make me feel happy instead.” It was so simply said yet so profound, I just stopped in my tracks (quite literally) and told him I was proud of him. It’s difficult at that age to be an individual but he showed immense character.

How many of us know toxic people? More importantly, how many of us allow these toxic people around us.Toxicity is extremely contagious and we all have allowed it to effect us one way or another before realising what was happening. As important as it is to feed your soul and do what makes you happy, it is equally as important to keep the right people around you and not allow yourself to become infected by the toxicity.

As I write this, I am returning from visiting Carlie as she finishes up her season. I travelled to Tropical North Queensland with her brother Nathan for a weekend to catch a couple of her games. From the day I met Nath we have gotten along- he’s a very easy going athlete with interests that go well beyond sports. Now for me personally, I get tired of people quickly. I like my personal space and my own time, I always have, so going on a trip and spending every minute with another person would most times be a daunting task for me. But when you have the right people in your life and around you, a light is ignited within you and you enjoy their company. This weekend was no different and definitely lit the light in me.

To reinforce what the 13 year old kid said, put the people around you who make you happy. Carlie and her family definitely tick those boxes for me. This trip to the tropics of Australia was one of the best experiences of my life. A weekend full of the right people, getting in nature, doing what is best for me has put a lot into perspective and let me see the big picture more clearly. Simply put it is because I am in a good place in my life for the first time in a very, very long time. My head is clear, my heart is happy and full of love, and my outlook on life, for the first time since I was a kid, is bright. So please make sure you fill your soul and build your own house- because after all you only get one shot at this life. Might as well be happy while doing it.