A handprint on a foggy, rain-covered glass window.

Photo by Dukhanov on Unsplash

Imagine the world without you. It’s a thought most of us shove to the deepest, darkest recesses of our minds, but indulge me for a moment. Picture the aftermath of your departure. The sun will slowly set on the day everyone you shared this space with will remember for the rest of their lives. The funeral ends, the tears dry up, and your favourite tea cup is washed and left on the draining board to drip dry. The raw, immediate grief of those who loved you begins to dull, and the gears of daily life start grinding once more. Buses move people to and from work, shoppers fill the streets, and laughter spills from cafes, oblivious to the trauma you have just endured. As the sun begins to set on your heartbeat, the flowers by your grave will start to wilt, along with the image of your face.

Your children, though heartbroken, will be pulled back into the relentless tide of work, for business doesn’t pause for personal tragedy, and the government certainly won’t pay for extended bereavement leave. A few sympathetic gestures – perhaps some flowers on your daughter’s desk or a round of beers for your son from his mates – and life’s cadence resumes its steady beat.

In the weeks following your passing, your partner, cloaked in solitude, might find a fleeting moment of joy in something as mundane as a joke on the TV. For a brief heartbeat, laughter escapes their lips, followed by a wave of guilt. But soon enough, the rhythm of life will return to its pre-loss state. And, eventually, they might find love again.

The harsh reality is this: the world moves on, sometimes much quicker than we’re prepared to accept. In the grand scheme of things, your absence, though profound to those closest to you, is a mere blip in the unrelenting march of time.

So, why do we spend our fleeting moments on this earth trying to impress others? Why do we seek validation from people whose opinions hold little significance in the grand tapestry of our lives? It’s a question worth pondering.

We live in an age where social media amplifies the need for approval. Likes, shares, and comments have become the currency of self-worth. We curate our lives to fit the mould of what we believe will garner the most applause, forgetting that these digital affirmations are as fleeting as the memories of those who scroll past them. We seek significance in the eyes of others, often at the expense of our own happiness.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: no one else is responsible for making you happy. That burden, and privilege, rests solely on your shoulders.

Finding happiness within yourself is a journey, often arduous and fraught with challenges, but it’s the only path to true contentment. Happiness is not a destination; it’s a state of being that must be nurtured from within. It’s about recognising your worth independent of external validation. It’s about embracing your quirks, your flaws, and your unique perspective on life.

Consider this: the approval you seek from others is fleeting. People are wrapped up in their own lives, their own struggles, and their own quests for happiness. Their opinions of you are transient and, more often than not, superficial. What truly matters is how you perceive yourself.

The moment you stop seeking validation from others, you free yourself from the shackles of societal expectations. You begin to live authentically, guided by your own values and desires. This authenticity attracts genuine connections, people who appreciate you for who you are, not for the image you project.

Finding happiness within yourself also means embracing solitude. In our hyper-connected world, solitude is often mistaken for loneliness. But solitude is a powerful tool for self-discovery. It allows you to reflect on your life, your choices, and your desires. It’s in these moments of quiet introspection that you can truly connect with yourself and understand what brings you joy.

Moreover, self-happiness is about setting boundaries. It’s about knowing when to say no, when to walk away from toxic relationships, and when to prioritise your own well-being. It’s about recognising that you have the power to shape your own destiny, and that power lies in your choices.

The legacy you leave behind isn’t measured by the approval of others. It’s measured by the lives you’ve touched, the love you’ve shared, and the happiness you’ve cultivated within yourself. When you focus on your own happiness, you create a ripple effect that touches those around you. Your joy becomes infectious, inspiring others to seek their own paths to contentment.

So, stop seeking approval from others. Instead, seek approval from yourself. Live a life that aligns with your values, your passions, and your desires. Embrace your journey, with all its highs and lows, and find happiness in the simple moments. Because, in the end, it’s these moments that define your legacy, not the fleeting opinions of others.

Life is too short to live for others. Live for yourself. Find happiness within, and let that happiness radiate outwards, touching the lives of those you care about. That’s the true measure of a life well-lived.

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