The very title of this post falls heavily upon its category and future compliation I have been adding to for going on a year. It’s a concept that can be so hard to truly grasp, one often learned through trial and error.
We all talk about happiness. This out-of-reach emotion that will magically make the world a better place. We will all smile and laugh and sing around campfires.
But we personify happiness into a character in of itself. An outside entity that we must run after and must rely upon physical means and steps to get there.
I have likely suffered from depression and anxiety my whole life, but only recently have I begun to address that. Before then, I was honestly not a happy person. I felt like I dwelled under a storm cloud, and whoever was in my vicinity was immediately pulled underneath.
In my mind, I felt like I was not enough. That I maybe wasn’t worthy of happiness. I didn’t know what it really looked or felt like. When I looked inside my own being, it was miserable.
So I focused attention outward. And, in turn, that also shifted those doubts and worries outward. In my family’s best intentions, that meant that I was basically entombed in a foggy bubble. I couldn’t really let others in, nor did I want to. I was guarded. I was a victim to the bully tugging at my thoughts.
So often that turned into others going out of their way to try and appease my sulking, my unhappiness that most of the time I was blind to. It meant others buying me gifts and doing whatever they could to provoke some happiness, some chance at connecting to that happy person hidden underneath the layers.
But this turned into resentment on both ends. It caused frustration to the givers who felt like they never received anything in return, that felt drained from doing so much but seeing the same result. It caused guilt in me knowing that these people are constantly trying to give me everything they could, monetary or not, and yet I could never begin to repay them. And even with my gratitude, the effects were merely temporary and I’d resort back to my usual middle-ground mood.
Something has to give, not someone. I have spent years in this vicious cycle that has brought tension to the relationships that matter to me most. But I cannot fault others for wanting the best for me. I cannot play a blame game for buying this or doing that. At the end of the day, I am the one who must learn this important lesson.
This lesson? Happiness is not a carrot dangling in front of our noses as we run endlessly on a conveyor belt. Happiness is not a store receipt, a single experience.
Happiness can only be found within ourselves. That is where enduring, strong, true happiness lies. And we cultivate the beautiful relationships, memories, and passions in life, taking optimal care of ourselves in the process, to find our own version of happiness.
Chances are, the ingredients to create happiness are already in front of us. Perhaps they are hidden behind mental illness, unhealthy circumstances, or just self-doubt. But the way we perceive our lives, the gratitude we spread, the way we communicate and live are all factors in happiness. There’s a reason why the wealthiest people in the world can be the most miserable, and the people who are in the depths of poverty are some of the happiest and most inspiring.
We must live in a way that we want for ourselves. If we don’t feel happy, we must live as if we already are. We must count our blessings. We must prioritize what truly matters most. We must take care of ourselves in all aspects, physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional.
So happiness is not tucked away in a faraway location. It’s in each of us. It always has been. Our consumer-minded society tells us otherwise. Our loved ones’ best intentions to provide and comfort us can become an addictive drug. But we must instead turn inward. Turn to love, gratitude, optimism, wellness, mindfulness, joy.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie