That never-ending hunt for happiness. Do a Google search and there are countless blogs and websites on finding your true happiness and inner meaning. It’s the meaning behind so many religious phrases, and spiritual quotes.

Additionally, from many discussions with others, an endless search that becomes a lost and found journey of mistakes, regrets, joy, spending money and acquiring possessions, only to become more lost or ideally find another part of yourself along the way? Sound familiar? Getting lost often has such a negative connotation, but I don’t believe it is. I do believe it is often on the lost moments of my journey, that other branches of learning have shaped my life in even more intricate ways, before steering me back to where I am meant to be. I love that old saying:

The greatest mistake you can make in life, is to be continuously fearing you will make one (Elbert Hubbard).

I recently turned 42, am still a single parent with one child, and still ebbing and flowing between lost and found. However, with each moment of fear I let go of, the greater my experience and another piece of the real me I find. The more I trust that life is pro my happiness, the more authentic I am, the more content, the more peace, the more alive I feel, the more moments I think I must be experiencing this true deep real happiness that I hear about.

I can see with increased moments of authentic happiness, there is less room for moments of unfulfilling UNhappiness. From someone who has battled with and managed depression since I was at least 19, this is really important stuff, and especially when I, like many of you, am in the position of caring for children alone. Our happiness counts. Dancing in the rain, hanging out in my little garden the other night and feeling so alive with a real honest-to-goodness sense of wellbeing and happiness, I started to sense a recipe forming here that truly meaningfully resonates with me beyond quotes and text books and gurus.

How am I getting to those moments?

That should be the simple bit, but talking to others, I wonder how many of us struggle with it? How many of us let fear or shyness or time get in the way of following our intuition and being true? Feeling those stomach pains or nausea in the pit of your stomach or the little voices, angels, God, the universe or whatever you want to call it, and truly listening and ACTION down that path your intuition is guiding you (regardless of how little that action may seem).

“You can’t be anyone else, so why not be you?” just sprung in to my mind. When I get that thought “go dance in the rain” and another little voice says “don’t be silly, what if someone sees me”, I am trying to tell it “who cares, do it anyway” and go and do it. The rewards are beyond anything money can buy. The sense of peace and healing and knowing that everything is going to be ok, can’t be replicated by anything else. Whether it’s dancing in the rain, turning right instead of left, saying no instead of yes, surrounding yourself with people who are positive, having the courage to use your voice, accepting an offer or declining it, or a major life opportunity, every action counts.

We will all have our own recipe for happiness, and it’s really important to find what’s going to work for you. The following are some things I’m finding working for me right now:

  1. Finding my soul lighters

Finding the little things that light up my soul, instantaneously filling me with a feeling of calm and peace. It’s following my heart’s desire; it’s feeding something my soul needs. For me that’s simple things like being near the sea, having my hands in the soil gardening, smelling fresh herbs, reading a good book, dancing in the rain, writing, studying, coffee with friends I truly connect with and can be myself around. Go where the peace is.

  1. Being grateful and seeing the positive

Taking note of what you can be grateful for and seeing the positive even in the challenging life lessons. It’s an unrealistic expectation on life that everything should be positive, this isn’t what I mean. It’s about making a choice to find the positive in each moment, and open to seeing the lessons and awareness that a journey is unfolding here – even when things are hard and freaking you out. Furthermore, the more I focus on what to be grateful for, the more positive my mindset is, and the less space for negativity to become a couch potato in my head.

  1. Not feeling guilty

Stop feeling guilty for having “me” time. I have found this is really important to grasp as a solo parent. Embracing the kid free moments and letting it feed my soul, helps me ride the parenting waves with much more grace, compassion and patience!

Stop feeling guilty for making mistakes, and not being perfect.

I used to beat myself up, let my parents’ voice ruminate in my head and not be forgiving of my mistakes. Now most of the time, I simply don’t. I forgive myself, let it go, and ask myself, how can I do this better next time or how can I fix this?

  1. Setting boundaries

Professionally and personally, having and setting boundaries that value my own self-worth, my time and show some respect! I haven’t got this one down pat, but working on it, and learning.

  1. Doing something for others

Giving in little ways can make a big difference in other people’s lives. This gives a good inner feeling and often has a reward by way of learning something new, lighting up that persons day and just being kind, spreading the love. It can be as little as seeing the need and helping a struggling mum get her pram on to the bus, or going back and telling the coffee lady it was the best coffee I had ever bought from there and seeing her face light up. It doesn’t have to be big! Being kind, encouraging others.

  1. Having personal goals beyond being a parent

The moment I decided I was going to start working towards personal goals (that weren’t about being a parent but working on me as an individual woman), was the moment I broke down in tears and finally felt like a string was connecting my heart, soul and mind in one. I always thought it would be a man that gave me that feeling!

I am now studying a Bachelor of Social Work at a spiritual based institute and for the first time ever, I not only feel an amazing sense of purpose beyond being a mum, but an excitement for our future, an enthusiasm for learning and learning and forever learning!!  I have a passion about growing and becoming a better person and a better parent and making a change in the world. This has lit an empowering flame within me that feels inextinguishable. If you haven’t considered it already, or you have been thinking about it and sitting on the fence, I highly recommend going for it. Don’t let finances and being a single parent stop you from following your dreams and reaching your full potential – remember your kids are watching everything you do.

Happiness is a reciprocal thing in a single parent household. When I am happiest, my daughter is happy. I deserve happiness, and she deserves to have a mum who is happy. It’s that simple, focus on what innately makes you happiest, and the rest will fall in to place.

Some useful articles and resources

Find more useful information on self-care and ‘me’ time in Motherhood and Keeping SafeHow to be a Fun Mum and 20 Tips for Emotional Selfcare.

If you’re looking to find clarity and perspective, and work on reaching your potential in life, you may want to check out the Manifestation Miracle.

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Michelle Woolley is a qualified nanny, has worked in hospitality, accounts and advertising, and is now studying Bachelor of Social Work full-time, working part-time as a support worker for people with disabilities. In her teens, she volunteered at kids' camps and listened to real life stories, dried the tears of many young girls struggling with living in a broken family. She didn’t realise that one day she would be drying the tears of her own child while parenting alone. Join her as she writes about her journey.

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