The Secret To Happiness Is To Stop Looking In The Mirror

by Lauren Martin

Will I ever be happy? That’s the million dollar question. The reason we do what we do every day and for the rest of our lives thrives on that particular motive. We may all have unique desires, goals and aspirations, but at the core of our motives is an innate desire every human being shares: to be happy.

I bet you can think of few times you remember being blissfully fulfilled and satisfied, completely content with who you are and what you are doing.

Because the sad truth for most of us is, no matter where you are or what you are doing now, there will always be that little piece of you that’s constantly wishing something was different or better. Wishing you were different or better.

Why can’t we just be happy? What’s so hard about it? Just be happy. Be happy. I said it over and over again to myself like a mandate. But no matter how long I thought about it or tried to decipher the source, I didn't know why I couldn't just be happy.

I could tell you why I was unhappy, though. I used to think it was because I didn’t look like Miranda Kerr or at least have the petite nose and slimming neckline of Grace Kelly. But as the years passed and I reflected more on my perpetual state of unhappiness, I graduated from that thought to understand that the root to my unhappiness wasn’t because I didn’t have Miranda Kerr’s bone structure, but that I kept comparing myself to Miranda Kerr.

This conclusion was a pivotal moment in my life, but not the defining one. Because it is one thing to find the answer, but another thing to know what to do with that answer.

At that time, I prematurely believed that if I were just to stop comparing myself to all the supermodels and hot sorority girls and every single other girl who passed me on the street, I could finally be happy-- then the suffering could end.

But I couldn’t stop. And as I lay in bed contemplating the simple logic of the answer I thought I had found, I couldn't help obsessing on a specific quote from Tennessee Williams.

“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”

There’s a reason I love quotes. It’s that rush you get when someone’s words hit you at the very core of your being. Someone had the same exact feelings and thoughts as you, and was able to articulate them so eloquently.

With this quote, there’s a moment of pure clarity and peace when you hear the honest truth of that statement, but also a deep moment of utter despair when you realize the harshness of that truth.

Those are really the only three options. This is as good as it will ever get. You will never be any better or prettier or taller than this. And you can either accept that, kill yourself, or just stop looking in mirrors. There is nothing else besides those three choices, and our lives are defined by the action we decide to take.

I contemplated my three options for a long time and found myself choosing suicide more often than not. But that comes as no surprise to me, I was born a coward. However, because I am a coward, I knew I could never go through with it, leaving me with only two options.

I took the second one, but not with full consciousness. In years of vanity, I had become so obsessed with my looks and the way I presented myself to the world that I could not look in a mirror for fear of shattering the perception, or better yet-- the illusion. I didn’t look in the mirror because I didn’t want to see the truth.

I lied to myself everyday. I told myself I was pretty and that was enough. I didn’t need to look in the mirror to disprove or prove it to myself. My mind was strong enough to believe the lie.

For years, I spent my life avoiding mirrors. I would dread public bathrooms for fear of being caught off guard. I avoided makeup  because that meant I had to examine myself. I even took down the mirror in my personal bathroom. I was vain and superficial and verging on insane.

I refused to take pictures, deleted my Facebook and never downloaded Snapchat. I ignored my friends' constant demands to get Instagram and even asked my roommate if we could remove our full length mirror. She said no, but it didn’t matter.

And suddenly one day I woke up, got out of bed, put on clothes and walked to class. I didn’t think about how ugly I was or how fat I had become. I didn’t care that my hair was flat or my boobs weren’t bigger.

Not looking at myself became a pivotal movement in my quest for inner peace. In my vain and shallow attempts to ignore reality and lie to myself, I became at peace with my true self.

By not looking at myself, I had inadvertently stopped making appearance an issue. It was irrelevant what I looked like at this point because, at the same time as feeding my delusion, I was also destroying it. I was slowly forcing myself to accept that appearance didn’t control my happiness. And I realized that once I stopped caring, so did everyone else.

So by not looking in the mirror, I was subconsciously choosing not to equate my looks with my life's worth. However vain and superficial my motives were, the end result saved me from myself.

I eventually came to the conclusion that not looking the mirror is just a step to accepting yourself. Because once you stop looking in the mirror, you realize that looks aren’t everything. That, at the end of the day, people actually care about your personality and what you have to offer. So in that decisive moment, you are free.

So just stop looking in the mirror. Look past it. Don’t stare at yourself. Just be yourself. Because at the end of it all, I figure that the key to happiness really may be to just stop looking in mirrors completely.

Hopefully one day I will be able to wholeheartedly love myself enough to look in the mirror and be completely content with what I see. Until then, I am going to keep avoiding them.

Top Photo Courtesy: Emma Hartvig/Flickr, she has awesome photos so be sure to check them out!