Understanding Happiness

A few weeks ago, Fast Forward Imaging turned two years old. Two years ago, I set out on a journey that felt familiar at the outset, but turned out quite different from anything else I’ve ever done. This journey has changed me in many ways.

Most importantly, I have become stronger than I ever thought possible. For a while, I thought that it was all about discovering some hidden center of power within me, but – rather annoyingly – I couldn’t find that secret spot, no matter how hard I looked and how deep I dug. So instead I built this strength through hard training. Probably – as in physical exercise – some rest phases would have helped to build these ‘muscles’ more efficiently, but since that wasn’t an option I suppose I just built them through constant endurance. And this strength feels incredibly good. Knowing that I can deal with whatever rocks are thrown in my path, knowing that I can keep falling over again and again, and that I will still have the strength to get back up every time, has changed my entire outlook on life.

The most important aspect is the fact that my life is exactly as I choose to live it. I created my own circumstances; I built my life by removing certain aspects and adding others. To me, there is no difference between ‘work’ and ‘private’; I see my work as an expression of my personality and my life choices. I have a small circle of friends who understand (or at least respect) my choices, who are not upset if I don’t call them for months at a time and who do not try to ‘protect’ me from my own choices.

However my journey has certainly not made me a nicer person. Not surprisingly, I have lost quite a few friends along the way; some may say that I broke these friendships deliberately or carelessly, and they are probably right in more than just a few cases. I have certainly lost any patience with people who consider themselves a constant victim of circumstance, and I cannot bear to hear people whine about their work and their employers.

A long time ago, I decided to use my own standard as the yard stick that I want to be measured by. There is no one who demands more of me, no one who is more critical, but also no one who understands as clearly as I do how I got to where I am. Of course I long for external feedback, and I am disappointed if I experience a lack of loyalty or appreciation. But mainly, I am drawing a deep pleasure and satisfaction from being where I am and having made it this far.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of the deep joy that I sometimes experience: a warm, glowing happiness that expands in my chest and rises slowly until I can hardly keep from laughing out loud. It sometimes overcomes me when I’m out running, and sometimes when I’m on my work commute, on the bike or on the train. The sun hits my eyes, or I catch the scent of some flowers; a certain track starts playing on my phone, or I realise I have actually been rushing forward because I’m impatient to get to the office. It hits me suddenly, and it’s the lust for the challenges I have chosen and the deep satisfaction that lies in overcoming them, one by one. It’s the pure and ultimate joy of moving forward and growing with every step.