After years of doing jobs I hated I have finally got my dream job working outside somewhere beautiful. I am 33, female and have always been very independent, into music, travel and lots of hobbies. Relationships were never my priority especially as my parents had a very unhappy marriage. The trouble is, my job means I now live in the back of beyond, there isn’t much of a social scene and I am worried I have completely missed the boat with regards to meeting someone. I have tried Internet dating and there is nobody on there I am attracted to.
Isn’t that just typical? You finally find a dream job but rather than take a moment to savour that success you’re already looking for the next box to tick on your list of hearts desires. Contentment is a particularly elusive human virtue. No sooner do we get what we want, then we budge our parameters that little bit further so we can revert to our more familiar sense of dissatisfaction. Far too few of us have the sense to celebrate good fortune when it lands in our laps. This questing, restless spirit has its advantages, earning us top dog status among Earths species and rocketing us into outer space in search of another, or should that read ‘better’ world? But it’s also made us the unhappiest of all mammals; even prepared to take our own lives, a choice no other creature would opt for, preferring to fight tooth and nail for survival. Happiness, rather than fleeting joy, all too often eludes us and it can’t be coincidence that its replacement is usually another ‘goal’! How many of us would respond ‘content with what we have’ when questioned on our lives and if we did, how would it be received? I’m not sure it’s what they’re looking for in job interviews or on dating sites but given some thought, it clearly should be ranked higher! There can’t be a better way to change your fortunes than to learn to settle for; not less, but enough. It’s the single easiest way to revolutionise our lives for the better but also incredibly hard to achieve.
In pursuit of that elusive sense of gratitude, for what on good days I recognise to be a pretty brimful cup, let me share my weird little tradition. For more than a decade, on New Years Eve, I’ve written, in the present tense, an imagined scenario twelve months hence. The nearby joyful shrieks of my children at play featured in this fiction long before they were conceived let alone born (and remains a stalwart), the warmth and crackle of a roaring fire, the study where I’m writing my book (have the study but not the story yet!), the easy companionship of a happy marriage (in my dream my husband brings me tea, in life that’s not a fixture), good health, the evaporation of financial worries, or on a bad year all of the latter appear in some shape or form. It’s too easy to wile away a whole lifetime, never feeling that you’ve moved forward, always fretting about what you’ve failed to achieve instead of being thankful for what you have. Cynics and Trolls will be sharpening their ire on my platitudes but the cliché exists because our cultural embrace of conspicuous consumption means we feel eternally short-changed, convinced that just one more ‘thing’ (or person), will lead to happiness. Looking back on those scraps of paper, usually penned under pressure as I prepare for a glass of bubbly and the drone of Auld Lang Syne, I’m horrified by the prose but surprised by how much of what I’ve described has insinuated itself into my life. Whether it was the patter of tiny feet or our move to the country, a man with whom I could make a home, or a meaty job I could get my teeth into, much of what I secretly longed for has eventually, in circuitous ways and over extended periods of time, come to pass. Those latter two qualifiers are especially important because having written down my pedestrian but persistent desires helped to take them out of my hands and perhaps more importantly, head . Committing my hopes to paper and describing my dreams seems to have been an act of alchemy. You’re clearly, at long last, in the right place. So imagine this man, place him in a tableau that encapsulates your dreams, and commit him to a page in your notebook. Then stuff him and your imagined world where contentment reigns into a drawer or box. You’ll be surprised how surreptitiously, once you’ve given oxygen to your desires, they start manifesting themselves in your real life.
Lastly naturally your parent’s unhappy marriage influenced you to seek security outside of a relationship. It was a healthy choice! Finding a partner when you’re happy with your lot is not just easier and far more likely, it’s also solid ground on which to build a future together. Whether he’s advertising himself online (where your catchment area is global so I wouldn’t dismiss it’s potential), down in the local pub, or about to knock your paper out of your hands in the village shop, this guy is out there. Give him space in your imagination, get on with your life and I know he’ll materialise. Let me know when he does?