When you think of happiness, what comes up in your mind?
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that like me, when you think of happiness, what comes to mind is some kind of big celebration filled with laughter and a lot of energy and excitement. Right?
Our happiness is something that we try to cling to.
It’s our evidence to the world that we are happy/successful/have it all. It is the ego based “my life is perfect” facade that we try to convey to the world.
What would you give to be happy?
Everything, because happiness is what we strive for in life. It’s what drives us in everything we do and want.
We live to be happy.
We run after our happiness.
Most of the time, we don’t really catch up with it…happiness seems always out of reach.
There is always something missing or something more that is yet to add that will make us happy (or happier).
When I was in 7th grade, on a 3-day school trip, I found myself in the middle of some teenage drama. I can’t even remember what it was about.
I was sad and upset, so I found a rock to sit on away from the group and allowed my feelings to express themselves through the flow of tears down my cheeks.
My teacher came to me, trying to cheer me up and soften the blow of my pain.
She said, “Don’t cry. Lian never cries. Don’t be sad. Lian is happy. Lian is always happy.”
I remember looking at her completely puzzled by what she said. I indeed was not happy. Starting with the fact that I was a teenager should have been the first clue. The tears running down my face were the second clue…. Adding to the fact that I was quite a lousy student and home was not the fuzzy warm anchor in my life, so I have no idea why she decided I was happy.
Well, maybe because I pretended to be happy most of the time. Or maybe because I was hiding my fears and insecurities under a shield of pretense.
That expectation of always having to be happy for the comfort of other people. To make them feel okay.
To try convince myself that I am.
Not to burden them.
Not to bother them.
Not to be needy.
Not to worry them.
I was processing it all in my head when I turned to her and said, “You know, there’s a lot of different me’s. There’s a happy me and sometimes there’s a sad me too. Sometimes Lian is sad.
It was another lesson and reinforcement of the pressure and importance of appearing to be happy in life no matter what.
Well, life is not always happy, and we all know it, so why do we keep pretending that all is well and that life is happy dandy when it’s not?
What’s so scary for us and others to be in the place of unhappiness, fear, sadness, anger or any other feeling that is, let’s face it, an inevitable part of life? These feelings can be wonderful tools to help us reach the happier feelings in life.
What is happiness anyway?!?
Can you define happiness?
Can anyone define happiness in a way that will describe everyone’s happiness?
As a child, I used to get into arguments with my parents when I wanted to do things they didn’t really understand or approve of.
They couldn’t understand why I wanted to do or experience whatever it was.
I had the simplest answer: Because it will make me happy.
They didn’t get it.
My happiness wasn’t my parents’ happiness, so they couldn’t understand it.
Yet, I had this conviction from an early age, that happiness was my mission in life.
I was born to be happy.
My life is my party, and I can cry if I want to. But somehow, for some weird reason, all this suffering in life didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t buy into the “life is tough” motto that we are so easily swept into from childhood.
Nope. This is not for me.
I want to be happy! I was born to be happy and goddammit I was determined to find a way to be happy!
Not that life has been an easy breezy silver platter. It hasn’t.
Like you (because I now know we all go through this), I spent most of the first part of my life feeling quite inadequate, somewhat worthless, unworthy, stupid and many other not so flattering beliefs and feelings about myself.
But there was always that part of me that was longing to feel happy. No, to BE happy.
In between the spells of self-loathing, setting myself up for disappointments and quite frankly, not being a very kind friend to myself, I dreamt and strove to find my way to happy times.
I just had to find out what happiness was….
I had to figure out what this happiness thing is…
It’s an elusive thing, this happiness thing.
I had to create my own life’s research and figure it out.
I started observing myself.
I started observing others.
Happiness became a world of its own filled with so many ways and feelings.
I noticed many tears of joy—they reflect happiness too…
I noticed a soft gentle happiness when I babysat my niece and nephew and tucked them in their beds, kissing them goodnight and listening to their breaths as they fell asleep. It filled my heart…
I felt an amazing relief of happiness when I allowed myself to express my anger to a friend who had mistreated me. It was a relief kind of happiness.
I continue to have a recurring calm, serene, quiet, very quiet happiness when I watch the sunset, the sunrise or a nice breathtaking view.
I found a calm, reassuring, profound happiness in the depth of my grief for my father passing away. I must have loved him so much to feel so much grief…. I was sad-happy to recognize the love I have for this man.
I find happiness when I’m allowing myself to be weak and to ask for help and receive it from my friends.
Happiness was learning to love and accept myself just the way I am, right now, in every moment.
Happiness is my inside job of being there for myself—always (even when I’m grumpy, scared or cranky).
My happiness includes the gratitude I feel towards my friends.
Happiness is individual.
It’s like our taste buds.
The things that I will describe as my happiness are most likely not the same as you have on your list of your happiness.
What makes me feel fulfilled and happy might be a stressful nightmare for you.
What adds to my happiness might be a complete bore to you.
Happiness is so very personal and it is up to us to figure it out and to find it for ourselves.
Happiness has many faces.
Happiness comes in many forms.
Happiness is a mixture of all the feelings in the world.
Happiness can be so many different things and can be felt and enjoyed in so many ways, in so many variations. Happiness is the center, the base, the grounds, the tree trunk that has many branches stemming out.
Happiness is taking off the pressure of having to be happy. It’s the freedom to feel what we feel and allow it to be there without judging it or running away from it.
Happiness is respecting and accepting the ebb and flow of life, the waves and the seasons of our feelings.
Without the opposites—well, none of these wonderful feelings of happiness would exist.
Happiness is made up by a variety of feelings and a variety of energies. Here are just a few I have come up with in a quick thesaurus/dictionary search.
- What other feelings and energies would you add to this list that are part of your own way of happiness living?
- What in your life makes you feel these ways?