Nobody is responsible to make you happy but yourself.

— Christy Tania

ID-100349643 what makes you happy
What makes you happy? Now, there’s the ultimate question … and my answer has surprised, and terrified, me. (Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

For those who don’t know, Christy Tania is a chef who recently set an elimination challenge on Masterchef … and sent one of my favourite contestants home. But this is not what I am writing about.

When poor Bryan presented his ‘floating’ ice cream without the helium sugar balloon to Christy and the judges, he was devastated. Desserts were his thing, and he had failed with more than just the balloon step.

Stress can be a right bugger.

They talked for a bit about why he wanted to stay in the competition. Bryan related the pressure from his parents to pursue a ‘more suitable’ career — but all he wanted to do was cook.

This was when Christy came out with the quote above. Now, she’s not particularly famous or well-known (beyond the foodie world) … but what she said really resonated with me.


Because when I ask myself if I am happy … I am not really sure.

Unable to sleep that night (not because of this, but other factors), my brain went to work making a list of the things that make me happy. The list was surprising in some ways.

What has made me happy recently?

♦ It is report writing time and, being at home and not having to write reports this semester, I have offered to proofread a number of my colleagues’ reports (and help another colleague with the structure of hers).  I have loved doing this! The buzz I have received from looking over these reports, and the feedback and appreciation from my colleagues has been amazing. I feel like a weirdo … but I don’t care. Doing this, helping others out, has made me happy.

♦ Writing is making me happy! Whether it’s one of my blogs, or the novel and the picture book I am working on with my amazing mentor, when I sit down to write I feel great. Pressing save or publish at the end carries a whole sense of achievement; not to mention the feedback I am receiving from people. Anything from a Facebook like to a comment … and particularly the feedback from my mentor (amidst all the changes, which serve first and foremost as the best learning ever) … creates a buzz of happiness.

♦ Sitting back and seeing the changes in my two beautiful children. My daughter, who despite being at the ‘eye-rolling, you know nothing and I know everything’ age, is becoming an amazing, resilient, self-directed young woman before my eyes. And my son, who has struggled somewhat over the years with the concept that school is a legal requirement, has, in Year 6, become confident and mature to the point where he ‘sort of enjoys going to school’ and is looking forward to High School next year. As a parent you worry so much about the future of your children — and I still do — but watching them in the here and now, I would have to be crazy not to be happy.

Other things appeared on my list too: support from my husband; dragon boating; friends who I knew I had, but didn’t realise how amazing they were … the list is longer than I initially thought it would be.

But …

This is big!

My job … teaching … did not make it to the list.

There are aspects of teaching that continue to make me happy: the mentoring side of things; relationships with many of my colleagues; those moments when a student ‘gets it’ or achieves something you couldn’t see happening a few years ago, and their eyes shine.

But, the day-to-day routine, the administration, the bull that goes hand-in-hand with the job (and isn’t related to the actual act of teaching) … do I really want this any more?

If I am honest with myself I really have to say ‘I am over it,’ and I think it has been this way for some time. I just haven’t fully admitted it until now.

So, what to do?

This is a scary question. I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was 8 years old. That was all I pursued. I have been in the job for over 20 years. I don’t want a total change, after all, there are aspects that still make me happy. Yes, I feel like I am stuck.

Once my brain had completed its ‘happy list’, it went on to try to problem-solve, and, in its semi-awake state, came up with the following:

I love writing. I love mentoring. I love editing and proofreading. I love the buzz when someone I have worked with ‘gets it’ and achieves success. I love working with my colleagues and their students in my own areas of ‘expertise’ and their areas of ‘need’.

Surely I could carve something from this?

Could I explore going into editing? Could I develop a mentoring service for teachers? (Now, who would pay for that, I wonder?) Could I combine my love of writing, editing and mentoring, with the occasional ‘kid interaction’ thrown in?

There is a place in Sydney called the ‘Sydney Story Factory’. It is amazing! They write there. They run after-school student workshops. They conduct teacher professional learning. It has been in the back of my mind for a year or so that we need a place like this where I live.

But how?

This is where my brain stopped. I obviously fell asleep when the question became too hard. But for the last week or so, the idea has been circulating through my mind.

I believe that my circumstances this year have been the driving force for this thinking. Life is too limited, with no clear end date, to not get out there and seek happiness. And, (now this is scary for me to say), if you fail … at least you have tried!

People do not achieve success, or happiness, by just sitting and waiting for it to happen.

So maybe, just maybe, I have to somehow overcome my fear of ‘risk-taking’, get out there and take the bull by the horns.

In the meantime, any ideas would be received with gratitude. This sort of venture is a whole new learning curve for me. However, I tend to find if I write about a goal, I am more likely to get up and do something to achieve it. I do not like to fail.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a relationship, a lifestyle or a job. If it doesn’t make you happy, let it go.

— from Power of Positivity (Facebook post)






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