Originally published at amygiglio.com
Everyone wants to find happiness, but often this can seem incredibly tricky to damn near impossible. Perhaps something only for the lucky few. Striking that balance can feel like an insurmountable task. Well, I am here to tell you that while life will never be perfect it can be pretty darn good. And in that good, you can find happiness but it’s not something that just falls in your lap. You have to create it. How do you achieve this you ask? It is as simple as this: put on your gardening gloves, it is time to weed the garden. Stick with me, I will explain, promise.
Think of your life as a garden. You are in control of what grows in your garden, who you allow to visit, and who you allow to stay. When is the last time you tended to your personal life as if it was something alive that needed pruning and watering? Are there weeds in your life? Are there things that bring you down? Do you hate your job? Are there people who stress you out? A friend who is always complaining? Tired of that person who is always stomping on your tulips? It’s time to draw a hard line in the sand. The bad stuff, the “weeds”, the toxic negativity that is dragging you down into that pit of despair has got to go. No exceptions. No excuses. It doesn’t matter who or what it is. Now it doesn’t have to happen in an instant, and you don’t have to excommunicate everyone who ever annoyed you, but it needs to be something you are aware of and constantly working to change. Take control of when and where these people have an impact on your life. You want to be happy? You have to make it happen and you have to be resolute. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
A Hard Lesson
Several years ago, I had a bad falling out with a close friend. We had been pretty good friends on and off for about 10 years, always had a lot of things in common and a lot of laughs. One time he told me about how he was doing a Facebook cleanse and unfriending anyone who was always posting negative content. At first, I thought this was kind of extreme, but as time went by and he applied this same philosophy to negative people who were directly impacting his life, I saw things around him change for the better. Learning from his example, I really took this idea to heart and slowly began to apply it to my own life (I have been working on this for about 5 years now and I still have some deep-seated personal issues to root out, don’t we all?).
I realized that I didn’t want to be a leaf blown about by the whims of others. I was going to decide who to allow into my garden. I didn’t want to be taken advantage of any more or brought down by one-sided relationships that did not bring something positive into my life. Most importantly, I realized that doing this was not a selfish act on my part, but rather one of self-defense or self-care. I had to be the one protecting and looking after myself. No one else was going to really and truly have my best interests in mind all of the time. I could no longer blindly trust and hope that people were going to do what was best for me. I had to do it. Me. I had to be my own guardian. And this idea was the catalyst behind huge changes in my life. I had to cut some people out of my life. If I couldn’t make them leave, then I had to walk away. Don’t wait for permission or for someone else to do it. Long story short, you are ultimately the only person who really has your back 100% of the time.
Sadly, for various complicated reasons that I would rather not get into, the friend who had helped me realize all of this was also one of the people who had to go. While it was a bitter pill to swallow, it was necessary. I wish it could have been another way, but I am better off without trying to carry that burden. Just like everyone else, I have my own problems and past to deal with. I cannot carry the weight of my own troubles AND those of others around me. Nowadays, I think of relationships like an emotional investment of sorts. It needs to be a two-way street. There has to be a balance, a mutual benefit. No relationship where one person always gives and the other person always takes can survive. Honestly, the hard truth of the matter is that these types of situations are a waste of your time. I can speak from years of dealing with painful unbalanced relationships, they never work out.
On the other side of the coin, do you appreciate that blooming trellis of climbing roses or your favorite shady tree? Are there good things in your life? Supportive people who always make you feel better? Do you thank them? Tell them that you love them? The friends that have always been there for you? What about your significant other? Or your faithful furry friend? Let them know how much they matter to you. Make a point of thanking people for doing things for you, no matter how small or insignificant. Tell your family you love them. Everyone likes to know they matter and are appreciated.
Returning to the garden analogy, if you want to be happy put water and fertilizer (time, attention, kindness, appreciation) on the plants you want to grow. Pull out the weeds and let them go. You will be better for it and have more to give to the relationships that matter most. If you neglect your garden it will run wild with all manner of things, plants (and people) can have thorns. Some are even poisonous. But if you tend to your garden, nurture it, you will find the most beautiful things can grow there. Perhaps you will even find the love of your life. And what is happier than that?
Why Am I Telling You All This?
I am sharing all of this with you because I had a realization today. I realized that when it really comes down to it, I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, just want everyone to be happy (I know this is not entirely realistic, but it doesn’t hurt to talk about it). This is the core reason behind why I share my artwork. My art brings me joy and fulfillment. I hope that by sharing it I may inspire others to seek out joy as well. I have found my happy place and I believe other people can find theirs too. Let’s pass on those positive vibes!
About the Author
My name is Amy L. Giglio, I am a watercolor artist with over 20 years of experience in drawing and painting. It is my goal as an artist to encourage and inspire because I truly believe that everyone has the ability to find fulfillment and happiness in life. By sharing my artwork and creative process, I hope my journey can serve as a valuable learning tool for others. Art is my gift to you and to the world.