I used to look at everyone in my life and think they were all having a far happier life than me. Then one day something happened that changed everything for me.
However great your life is it’s easy to think everyone else is having a happier, more fun, more exciting time than we are. We live in a comparison society where our happiness is measured relative to the perceived happiness of those around us, and we are encouraged to look outwards to others to provide the barometer for happiness we are prepared to accept in our own lives. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter provide us all with a highlight reel of our lives. We craft our very own “best bits” as if we were on Big Brother or some other reality TV show as we invite the world in to see how happy we all are. Things aren’t always how they seem however, and on some level we do know this but it doesn’t stop us from expecting more and more.
What if the pursuit of happiness wasn’t a pursuit after all and instead involved us stripping away the very things we are convinced will bring us happiness as we get back to a simpler life. A few years ago I had an insight that helped me to realise that happiness can be created by me and I already had everything I needed to be able to make this happen every day of my life.
I was driving to work with my girlfriend at the time and we noticed that the degree of happiness we felt as we arrived at work was directly proportional to how many cars we let in on our journey. As I would approach a junction I would notice a car wanting to join our lane of traffic so I’d slow down and flash them to come forward. A small exchange would then take place as the driver would give me a nod, a smile or maybe a thumbs up to say thanks, and on our way we’d go.
Then I’d notice in front of me this driver would let someone else in and they too would share a small moment together. Before I knew it, it became a habit and I’d be letting people in at every opportunity just so I could experience this small connection. When we arrived at work we’d notice how much better we felt due to these small moments of kindness and I’d ask my girlfriend “how happy are you Helen” and she’d smile at me and say “well today I feel 8 car happy”. Eight cars, 8 small moments of human connection, kindness, and giving. It was a revelation to me and demonstrated in front of my eyes the power of human connection and how this leads to greater feeling of happiness and well-being.
In our lives we create distance from each other in pursuit of what we believe to be happiness. The distance we create in our relationships with others often mirrors the distance we create in the relationship with ourselves, and by opening up to connections with others we encourage a deeper connection with ourselves. Happiness is simply a consequence of those connections.
So the next time you’re in the car and the opportunity presents itself, slow down, flash your lights and create a connection with someone. Just notice what happens and how that makes you feel. If you like the feeling then do it again, and before you know it you can be car happy too. And we don’t need to stop there as there are opportunities everywhere in our lives to create small, powerful connections with people. What connections are you going to create today and how much happier will that make you?
Written by Mike Matthews
Mike Matthews is a Personal Coach who helps people live passionate, happy, purposeful lives. Mike helps people step in to their true self to connect them with a deep sense of purpose so that whatever they want to create in life is created from the inside out. Connect with him