I Don’t Believe you want to be Happy

happiness-path

“Happiness” is like a fresh cut lawn – it looks fantastic and everyone wants one, but most people don’t want to do the actual work.

It’s a fascinating topic, because happiness is an individual experience which each of us has to figure out. What one person loves, another shudders at.

I feel like we sometimes overcomplicate it, though. How about narrowing happiness down to three questions?

  1. Do you want to be happy?
  2. What are you doing about it?
  3. Are you doing that every day?

Interestingly, the answer to the first question is a decision, while the next two are actions. It’s easy to SAY you want to be happy, but do you ACT like you do? Projecting your “happiness” is easy and what most people do on social media; it’s when you’re home alone and about to go to bed where the true test lies.

I don’t believe you, if you are one of those people that constantly say ‘If only I had ….” Although admittedly that can be useful if you do, in fact, use the insights on why you feel like that.  Did  ‘if only’ propel  you to make a plan on what you need to do today, tomorrow, the next week, next month to  look back in wondrous reflection next time? Great. Otherwise, that statement is a waste of energy. This reflection and positive understanding from good and bad experiences allows you to use that insight to recognise the patterns of future behaviour before you feel one way or another. In my experience, I have felt ‘mistakes’ were only ‘mistakes’ if I didn’t learn from them. For example, dating an emotionally abusive partner over and over.

Stop regretting and start acting on what you want!

I come across so many people who use ‘this happiness thing’ and the fact that they don’t seem to have it as a tool to incite sympathy. “Poor you! You deserve to be happy!” Perhaps people are addicted to attention and being gushed over?

What makes you deserve to be happy? Happiness is another form of currency, it’s earned. But unlike money, it never runs out – it’s infinite. As with most important things in life, we have to learn to value and appreciate it before we start recognising just how much it already is present in our lives. Think about a child that’s just given toys at will versus the poor child with no toys – who works to save his pocket money and buy his favourite. I can guarantee you the latter will recognise and value the joy of his toy far more and for far longer than the former.

I don’t believe you, because you spout forth what’s gone wrong or what isn’t right with your life. But when I ask you what you’re doing about it a blank stare comes over you as if you’re a brussel sprout in the back of the freezer. Saying you deserve happiness is like saying you deserve air. Your body uses air to function and it’s freely available; your body doesn’t think it deserves it. It just gets on with it.

Stop envying others’ success at happiness and proclaiming it as an anomaly or that they ‘landed with their bum in the butter’ or that they’re just luckier than you. Gary Player said that the more he practiced, the luckier he got. Interesting.

This is why I don’t believe you want to be happy, because you think some external influence is dictating your happiness. Au contraire! It’s much closer to home than you think. It lives within you and, just like a sculptor carves layers away to reveal his masterpiece, so too do you have to peel away layer upon layer to discover your true inner happiness. Never stop working at it. Remember, it’s not finite which means there is no end. And this means we are constantly discovering.

Our happiness is ours to build and ours alone. Which means we have a lot more control over it than many think. If your happiness depends on something or someone else, what happens if that thing or that someone is no longer around? Of course, people can enhance our happiness, but they can never create it. Just as 3D glasses didn’t make the movie 3D – they just revealed it to you.

You see why I don’t believe you? Your actions are telling me everything I need to know. So, start working on questions 2 and 3 and watch your life begin to transform. If you aren’t sure where to start then check out my post here on exploring happiness.

The easy part is deciding to be happy. And even though it can take a little time to build your happiness muscle through the next two actions – I can promise, it’s something you will never regret.

So, why not start today?

Relationships: An open letter to Women

love-relationships

‘Now that I’m with her I feel like I don’t have enough time left on earth with her’ – this is what women want to hear. So where’s it going wrong?

I find it disheartening when great women make, in my eyes, the same mistakes with guys. This post is an honest recounting of these observations I’ve seen over the last twenty years. Hopefully this and my ten points on what to do will assist you to find and stand in your power.

Firstly, my deepest sympathies go out to women with the drivel they have to deal with on a daily basis from ‘so called men’.

Let’s be honest about them though, these are boys – not men.

Time to be real

This needs to be said.

Stop. Trying. So. Hard.

Half of marriages end in divorce in South Africa. So essentially you are running towards a building that could explode. What is the rush? Perhaps it’s time everyone took a time out to think about what they really want and whether what they are doing is working for them; because clearly the standardised framework of relationships is not working for most.

Being with someone because the idea of them feels great is not the same as being with them because it is great.

It’s a very interesting position to write from because I’m 37 and single. Timing just hasn’t been on my side, this year being an example of that when the crème of the crop moved to France three months after we connected. That being said it’s not as though I’m looking to rush into marriage either with the first woman that seems like she could be ‘the one’; something most people close to me felt I embodied in my twenties.

‘No really! THIS is the woman for me’ – fast forward a couple of months… you get the picture.

I get it. When we want something so badly, we focus on all the amazing aspects of a person instead of taking the time to see if they are compatible. Sound selfish? Just ask one of the divorcees what they would have done differently. That’s why we date. It takes time (for most of us) to really get a feeling of whether this person is going to be supportive during tough times and someone we can laugh with every day. Encapsulate all the qualities of human being we can be 100% vulnerable with. It’s easy to be with someone when times are great and laughs abound. Find someone that can hold a safe space for you.

Hollywood has played a part

The worst thing we can do is live our lives based on what movies show us. It’s not real – just like fairy tales don’t share what happens once the prince saves the princess; so too are movies providing false expectations of what love in the real world exemplifies.

Same goes for magazines.

Stop. Reading them. Please.

Especially the parts that say (and I just googled Cosmopolitan right now to see what their latest cover says)

“The Hot secret to love that lasts!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, they actually had 11 exclamation marks on the cover that you can see and OH BOY how clever of them to unearth the hot secret we never discovered all these years) Next: ‘Boys Toys! How to charm the pants off him” – Why not “How to be authentic to find your gem”

Here’s the thing about both those cover stories. It’s generic. It’s (just as the men’s versions are too by the way) backwards to think that these ‘secrets’ they’re unearthing are actually going to work for you. I’m sure there are exceptions here but for the most part, I highly doubt they do – unless you are looking for a casual hook up, but that’s a separate issue altogether.

As a self-respecting guy who knows his worth here’s a novel idea: why not be exactly who you are and chat to me? Let go of any attachment to the outcome and have fun. I’m sure the rank assholes will turn the conversation to ‘your place or mine’ pretty quickly in which case – hit the eject button. If you ever think ‘but maybe he’ll be different with me’ I can recommend a good island you should probably go live on by yourself.

Why start off playing games and pretending to be something you are not because a magazine said so? Wouldn’t you rather find out in six days that I wasn’t in love with the real you than in six months of the magazine you? Why would you want to waste your time?

I’ve had ten failed relationships. Some ended amicably; some broke my heart; one claimed I ruined her life when I ended it only to meet her, now husband, two weeks later and move in with him two weeks after that. True story. If they were the right ones we’d still be together. I hold no malice for any of them. Just plenty of lessons I learned along the way which helped sculpt me into the man you see today.

A couple years back a close friend gave me some advice “Andrew, your problem is you reveal too much of yourself too soon. You gotta play the game and hold some stuff back bro”

The very fact that the word ‘game’ was in that sentence meant that I ignored everything he told me. I don’t believe that at all or really see how holding stuff back is going to make things better? It’s much easier just playing the role of Andrew Mark Patterson

Where does it go so wrong?

So here are a couple of pointers I’d like to share with women.

This is a very good place to start. Two scenarios with the same outcome you tell me which one you prefer:

  1. You sleep with him and you felt such a deep connection and he said all the right things. You never hear from him again.
  2. You tell him you’re incredibly attracted to him but you want to wait. You never hear from him again.

Yes I can safely say sometimes that initial attraction is insanely strong but trust me – the right guy won’t have a problem waiting. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping with him if you are happy to never hear from him again, but Your self worth does not come from between your legs; it comes from your heart. The right guys know this.

The benefit of just waiting it out and not jumping into bed first chance you get, is that the more time goes on the more you will see the integrity and good qualities are genuine. You can fake that over a weekend but not over a couple of months. If he can’t make plans to see you with his friends he has no intention of dating you. Seeing who someone surrounds themselves with is a big indicator (for men too by the way) of the type of person they are. They say we are the sum total of the five people we spend time with. Perhaps a good start is asking him who those five people are in his life.

A real man will know how to respect you; opening doors, find out how your day was with the genuine intent to hear the answer; arrange a date out at a restaurant (doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it’s not McDonalds), will phone you (not just Whatsapp). They may even ask you subtle questions to understand what your favourite colours are to buy you flowers with that information. See what your favourite food is and perhaps attempt to cook you that meal.

Before you think I’m bashing women go read my post ‘Men – start leading by example’. I genuinely want the best for women and, from a young age I wanted to be an example of what guys could be, somehow I think it will take men longer to change their behaviour than it will women; if I could erase men’s memories and replace them with new ones a la ‘Men in Black’ style I would.

What does your behaviour say?

I often come across woman – friends or otherwise – that find validation from guys by sleeping with them. Or at least that’s how it’s coming across to me. Stop that. It’s never going to make you feel good about yourself. Perhaps the problem is not the guys you are meeting, but the image you project by the way you behave.

You say all the nice guys are married or taken? I say all the nice guys are in places looking for women who know their self-worth. Your looks might attract the right guy – but who you are as a person is what’s going to keep him.

I always get asked the ‘how come you still single’ question as a look of bewilderment comes across their face. I think my wife is playing the world’s most insane game of hide and seek. Seriously though, is it so hard to believe that I haven’t met the right women yet? Or that I have and timing dictates I wait a little longer?

My question is: What makes being involved a case to be happier than being single? Shouldn’t we just enjoy whatever phase we’re in and when you meet that someone won’t it be that much more special? Like being wrapped in caution tape on the dance floor? NOBODY… I feel strongly about this so let me repeat that… NOBODY should complete you. You need to be whole to meet someone.

The worst thing that happened to our society is the age of instant gratification. We’ve lost the art of building meaningful relationships. Take pride in building something over time. Be prepared to put in the work; can you really appreciate anything that just falls in your lap? Maybe if you’ve experienced the bad previously, probably.

For me, the very fact that I am 37 and I haven’t married yet is a blessing, because I know when I feel it, and I did this year, you don’t question anything it’s just ‘there’. One of my best friends lives in the States and he married a wonderful woman from South Dakota and he said to me after waiting about 36 years too – ‘now that I’m with her I feel like I don’t have enough time left on earth with her’

Think about that – how incredibly beautiful the last thirteen words are.

If I perhaps haven’t been clear above let me recap what you should do to find the right guy for you:

  1. Be authentic and don’t play games
  2. Nothing is sexier than a self-assured confident woman (doesn’t mean outgoing – means she knows what she wants)
  3. Your looks might attract in the beginning – but who you are is what will keep us
  4. Forget what beauty magazines tell you. Talk to me and discover what I like and want. I’m not generic.
  5. There is no formula
  6. Know your self worth and don’t settle for less, it comes from your heart.
  7. Be whole before you look for a partner – the whole ‘you complete me’ is rubbish. Complete woman find complete men
  8. Just because you had one bad experience with a guy don’t paint us all with the same brush. Learn from that experience to recognise those behaviours.
  9. Sometimes good people are not good together. If you have to force it walk away.
  10. He should celebrate you and encourage you to be the best you can be – he’s not intimidated by your strength. He’s attracted to it.

If you’d like to discuss this further – I’m more than happy to chat about it in more than 2000 words.

Are most guys assholes? Maybe… Does that mean it’s going to be harder to find the good ones? Probably, but catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and then hike up – see which one gives you a greater sense of accomplishment while admiring the view.

Just don’t be in such a hurry. It’s not always going to work with the good ones either. We are going to mess up but we’ll apologise, learn and try to improve. We’ll be a catalyst for change for you too. I can safely say I’ve never been with anyone with the intention to hurt them – but staying with someone you know is not right for you is a longer more cruel punishment than being honest. After all – don’t we want to end up with someone who wants to be with us? Make mistakes, it means you’re at least doing something to discover what you want and love. Sitting behind a wall expecting it to fall out of the sky isn’t the answer.

Enjoy the journey and find a guy where the fairy-tale starts when you meet.

Write your best story.

 

Gratitude for another year Lived

grateful-for-life

Life is so fragile. My original opening line below is now poignant since I heard the news last night. I’d like to dedicate this to a brave soul who fought long and hard – Gabe Thevathasan – your candle may have blown out at age 10, but the rest of the candles you lit still shine bright with your spirit.

courageous

 

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Tomorrow I get to experience something Lady Di and Marilyn Monroe never did.

I turn 37.

This is always a special time of year for me, with a birthday rolling around I get to reflect on a year lived and feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the new experiences and people that have come into my life – whether briefly or now embedded into the tapestry of my life.

There’ve been great firsts for me this year.

  1. The Opera
  2. Starting my blog
  3. Going for Coaching
  4. Being wrapped in caution tape with an amazing woman on a dance floor
  5. Supporting my brother at the Cape Epic
  6. Winter Vortex
  7. Yoga
  8. Secret Sunrise
  9. Attending a world first launch – the ageLOC ME personalised skin care system

All of which have been complimented by moments of falling in love; experiencing pain; attending a beautiful love ceremony; having endless laughs with friends and dancing for days in the desert. Collectively  I’m reminded of my three pillars that I live by:

  1. Be grateful for what you have;
  2. Be in the service and give to others;
  3. and form meaningful relationships.

Gratitude

I’ve always believed that being grateful for what you have helps you live in joy and happiness. It’s not about being happy when I get something or somewhere (just ask a number of depressed famous people who appear to have it all) It’s about being happy now. When you can find joy in the smallest things, suddenly life becomes much simpler. Simple pleasures begin to elevate your mood to a place you never knew existed. Just because of a smile. Practising this means you will enjoy more days than not.

I had an issue with my engine last month which essentially cost me more than what I spent on my first car. Needless to say my heart almost kicked out the emergency exit and left me stranded. Granted, there are worse calls to get (and I’ve had a few) but that’s an insane amount of money in anyone’s language.

‘Please come in so we can talk about it Mr Patterson’

The garage is about 3km from the office so I decided to take my time rather and stroll in the glorious spring sunshine. The slight breeze made the heat more bearable as I listened to my music. I decided to be absolutely present and feel each step I took; feel each breath lift my chest, and really admire the majestic mountains of Stellenbosch.

At that exact moment everything was perfect. I could walk. I could see. I could hear. I could feel. I had love in my heart from family and friends. Yes there would be a moment later where it would hurt to pay that amount but it wasn’t then.

I brought myself back to the now. And it was beautiful.

The cost was astronomical – but it’s just money. I can make more.  I still have a car and luckily nothing bad physically happened to me up to that point. For the first time in my life I didn’t allow an external bad ‘thing’ to affect my happiness. It wasn’t fun, and I may not have been singing from the rooftops but I was still smiling.

Lesson: Bad things are always going to happen; cultivate a positive mind set BEFORE bad things happen so you can deal with them. It’s too late to try and become positive in a bad moment

Service to others

This is a big one.

I grew up being surrounded by it. Watching my mom and gran working for meals on wheels; my mom carting me and my mates to cricket games all over Joburg or clearing out old clothes to be able to give to those less fortunate than us. It made me think about giving and I remember being incredibly happy buying my family their favourite chocolate with my pocket money or simply being helpful around the house (this was all on my good days!)

Then at my High School, King Edwards, we had something called KESFAM which was about raising money for various charities. One that really sticks out was seeing us sponsoring blind people with guide dogs. Feeling their appreciation changed me forever.

While living in London I had a thought to get involved with something but didn’t know what.

Another life changing moment.

Harrods, I worked in the golfing department, threw a Christmas lunch for terminally ill and disabled children. They needed helpers and I jumped at the chance. I was dressed in a Panda Bear suit and being so nervous (I know – no one could even see me!) danced to the music. I became known as ‘The Dancing Bear’ and if I took too long a break to get clean air in my lungs was immediately summoned. Just for a moment the world was perfect. The joy on every child’s face was a true gift to behold. That would be the start to my life’s pillar of giving back to those who needed it most.

People equate giving with money and I think people believe it has to be hundreds or thousands of Rands – so giving R50 becomes ‘why bother?’. Firstly, imagine 100 people think that same thing? Suddenly R50 becomes R5000. Secondly, it doesn’t have to be money. Giving your time is far greater than giving money and that will tie into my third pillar I’ll talk about in a bit.

Lesson: the more we give the more we receive, just ensure you do it for people that appreciate it. Don’t waste time on vampires. The best feeling is helping others without any expectation whatsoever of it being reciprocated. Try it

Form meaningful relationships

This requires authenticity and vulnerability on your part. Celebrate who you are and you’ll surround yourself with those that matter. They will care enough about you to help you when you do something untoward, help you become the best version of yourself.

I personally have never understood holding on to resentment or anger about past ‘failed’ relationships. I use inverted commas because I don’t believe any relationship is a failure unless you don’t learn from it. You can always learn something even if it’s what you don’t want in your life or how you don’t want to behave. How to connect with people.

Friends are the family we choose. When you find these family members that behave in a manner which, tying back to my previous section about giving, means you’re always working together to build each other up and not just working on yourself.

You strive to build their happiness which inevitably builds yours too. You find people who are genuine and are able to have difficult conversations with you instead of leaving you in a bubble that everything is great. We all have faults and the quicker we set aside our egos and realise growth is for our own good – flying becomes a reality the caterpillar only dreamed of.

Moving to Cape Town where I knew nobody proved that you should never give up. Stick to being who you are and do what you love, the rest will follow. Great things take time and building relationships with people is no different.

Lesson: The greater your vulnerability, capacity to love and authenticity with people; the deeper and more meaningful your relationships will be. If all people want to do is talk superficially, don’t be surprised when they turn their back when you need them most. Hold close the people that listen after they’ve asked you “How are you?”

These are my three pillars. The glue that holds all of them together is love. Hold love in your heart and treat people with this pure intention and you will be amazed how they treat you. Be this person. Be the example to youngsters to look up to. We need role models for them. Twerking and landing on the front page of a Tabloid is not it. It’s a cheesy saying usually reserved for being in love but I think it’s appropriate to end off:

You might feel like just one person to the world; but to one person you might just mean the world.

Go spread your magic