Several times this week, a simply drawn cartoon popped up in my various social media feeds. One character asks another where she found the object she carries, because he has been searching everywhere for it.
I smiled every time I saw the cartoon, because of the object bearer’s response. My heart and soul resonated with an enthusiastic Yes!
This evening, as I considered topics for today’s blog post, the cartoon, which I mentally titled Searching for Happiness, made the list of possibilities. Just as I looked over my options, a song began to play. I don’t even know what song it was but the word happy caught my attention. I laughed, my decision made.
What is Happiness?
That’s a big question that people have been trying to answer since ancient times. Philosophers, writers, poets, artists, actors, theologians, singers, psychologists and countless others have sought to define what happiness is.
What it is not is just another emotion, or a positive mindset, or a fat bank account. People agree that happinesses is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life imbued with meaning and purpose. However the road to happinesses is different for everyone, as is the exact meaning. Living my version of happy will look different from yours.
What is essential is understanding that happiness cannot be supplied by an outside source. No one can “make” us happy or sustain that state of being for us. What a heavy burden to place on another person. Happiness is something we create for ourselves, and it is sometimes hard won.
The journey to bliss can involve pain, challenges and letting go of past hurts and the need to control people and outcomes. As we grow in awareness, we grow into a happiness that is not dependent on circumstances or what others are thinking, doing or saying.
My personal journey to happiness included facing and defeating fears, embracing my whole heart and accepting who I am, practicing gratitude, seeing the presence of the Divine in everything and recognizing that I am the only one who can create my happiness, which lets everyone else off the hook.
In my state of happiness, there are many ways that I contribute to my sense of well-being. I regularly feed my happiness by doing the things that bring me joy: spending time with family, laughing with grandkids, gardening, traveling, expressing my creativity, cultivating solitary time, watching movies, writing.
Taking care of my health contributes to my happiness, as do ongoing conversations with the Divine, nurturing my dreams and walking alongside other people as they journey. Can I be happy and still experience sadness, anger or disappointment. Yes! Do any of those erode my happiness? No! Happiness is core to my being. No matter what else is going on in my life at the moment, happiness is what I return to. Like those toys from the 1980s, the Weebles, I can wobble and tip off my center, but I won’t fall down and stay there.
As I often do, I looked up the etymology of the word happy. It comes from the old English word hap, in the 14th century, which meant “lucky”. The word worked its way into many cultures, however from the Greek to the Irish happy originally conveyed the meaning of being lucky and having good fortune.
Isn’t it interesting that some still perceive happiness as an elusive state of being, and that only the lucky few ever achieve it. How empowering it is to realize that searching for happiness begins with a solitary inward journey, and creating it is the uniquely personal experience called “living our best life”.