“Happiness”

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ― Albert Camus

A dear and incredibly wise friend of mine posted some very interesting food for thought on social media. She said, “Happiness is too fleeting and trivial a thing to be the main goal for something as massive and wondrous as life.” Being naturally inclined to have deep discussions, I posed back, “What makes happiness trivial, and who says it has to be fleeting?” We fleshed out the thought back and forth, and it just really made me think  about the way we romanticize this idea of “happiness.” We tell ourselves that the best thing to aspire to is happiness, but how do we know when we’re there? Are we ever really there? In telling ourselves that happiness is the pinnacle, are we discrediting any unhappy experiences as not worthwhile? Should the take home be that anything that isn’t what we perceive as happiness isn’t as valuable? There are many, many quotes and cliches about this subject. As a culture inundated with images of perfection, happy smiling faces, and true love, we lean away from discomfort. We only talk about struggles once they are over, and we have a happy outcome. Underdog stories only inspire us if they result in victory. But isn’t there something valuable in accepting defeat, understanding loss, and feeling pain? Without those things, we wouldn’t even have a barometer for what “happiness” means.

I am always perceived as a very happy person. It’s the compliment I get from people I meet and people who have known me a really long time. They will tell you how positive I am, and that I always know how to cheer people up. I am also clinically depressed. I only recently accepted this and started taking medication to treat it. But I’m a great example of someone who isn’t really sure what “happy” feels like, but knows what it looks like. If we tell ourselves that truly being happy is the only end objective, what are we telling people like me? Wouldn’t be less pressure to just let happiness be a pleasant treat along the way? Like stopping for ice cream on the way home from school, having a candy bar in the middle of a long work day, or hearing your favorite song during a long commute. If we took the emphasis off being happy, wouldn’t it be easier to achieve? What’s wrong with aspiring to be someone great, rather than just someone who’s “happy”? (Not that the two are mutually exclusive, mind you.) I want to help people, to inspire them, to empower them. And it turns out, I don’t have to always be happy to do that, nor am I done once I feel “happy.” Does that make me a cynic or even more of an optimist? Even I don’t know. But that’s the beautiful thing, I don’t have to know everything. And neither do you.

This week’s 5 things I love about myself:

  1. I love the mole on my chin. It’s the same mole that my mother and her mother have. It’s an accent mark that makes me a part of something bigger.
  2. I love my love. My heart goes zero to one hundred. I love hard and fast, and even if it doesn’t last, I never regret the heartbreaks.
  3. I love my hair. Okay, sometimes I bitch about it because it gets crazy, but I love it because my curls come from my dad, who I loved more than anyone or anything.
  4. I love that I get bold when I’m drunk. Yes, I kiss people I shouldn’t, and yes, I sometimes foolishly text my exes. But drunk me is unfiltered me, and I’ll never be ashamed of that.
  5. I love the me that plans and outlines steps for everything… and the me that panics and does nothing on the planned out list. I need both of these components for balance. (and I’m only a little sorry that this makes me 30 minutes early or 10 minutes late for nearly everything.)
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