And What About Happiness?

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney

What is happiness anyway? We talk about it all the time, but I think most times we don’t even know what it means. It’s this big idea that we’re all wondering about and trying to chase down. We learn that happiness is life’s mission. It’s some elusive thing that we must find and hold onto, before it slips away. We tell ourselves, “I’ll be happy once I get that job. Or that relationship. Or that paycheck. But I can’t be happy now.” Why do we limit ourselves to a certain time or place where happiness is allowed? Is it because we’re scared that we won’t continue to grow if we let ourselves be happy right now? What if being happy now did allow us to grow, did give us that magic spark we need to get that job or that relationship, did drastically change the way we view ourselves and the world? Is there something scary about that? Is happiness really a choice, or is it some external thing that happens to us?

Like health, happiness can mean many different things to each individual. To me, it’s about not floating through life, waiting for something to change. It’s about being present with what is going on around you, and constantly saying “heck yeah, I appreciate this.” And it’s not about being happy all the time. I am the biggest advocate of feeling your feelings. If you’re upset, put on your emo high school playlist and cry. (No one else has that playlist? Oh, awkward….) When you’re angry, go to kickboxing class and curse. When you’re confused, go for a walk and try to recenter yourself. But when you’re happy, embrace it. Don’t say “this feeling will pass, so why try to hold onto it?” It is for that exact reason, that happiness is somewhat fleeting and can pass quite quickly, that you should try to hold on to it and appreciate it while you have it. My best friend’s mom, a wise woman indeed, told me that we cannot feel happiness all the time because we would have nothing to compare it to. We must feel the more negative emotions so that when we do feel happy, we can cherish those moments. It’s not about thinking that you will be happy once you finish that degree or get to that certain weight. Of course, you may feel better about yourself at that time so perhaps more happiness will be induced then, but why not be happy right now?

When are some times that I feel genuinely happy? When I light candles in my room and read a great book that captures me and makes me forget that there is a world outside of the world the author created. When I reminisce with my friends about the funny, doofy times we had in college. When I go to my home home (also known as my parents’ house) and they have fruits and veggies and cheese waiting for me. Putting on Missy Elliot’s new song and bopping around. Really honest conversations about people’s dreams and aspirations. Many people ask me why and how I am so joyful all the time. First off, I’m not… I get as crabby and as anxious as the next person. However, I learn to embrace the simple pleasures of life, like when it’s time to put pumpkin spice in your coffee and sunny days when you can walk to work and listen to an awesome podcast. Think about some of the simple pleasures you take for granted, and next time you encounter one, choose to be filled with gratitude. Say thank you to yourself for picking up that great book from the library. Appreciate when your boyfriend emails you a link of a song you’ll probably love. Let the pure treasures of life that don’t seem like a big deal, become a really big deal. You have that choice. We all fall victim to waiting for next month, the new season, the new year, Monday, a new job, feeling more settled, completing that degree, before you can be happy with yourself. Ask yourself why you’re holding yourself back. Why aren’t you allowed to be filled with joy right now?

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(By the way, everyone should check out + subscribe to Buddha Doodles. Incredible artwork with really inspiring captions.)

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