Happiness – each one of us is in pursuit of it. But how do we know if we’re really happy? When we think of our overall life, we may find that we’re not where we want to be. Our career is not where we expected it to be. We haven’t found our soul mate. We may have been through divorce. We may have lost someone we love. We may be in debt. We don’t have children. We may have a chronic health / mental health condition. Our lives are not perfect. No ma’am. Perhaps it’s a shit show even. When we take a large chunk of time and evaluate it on a narrow rating scale, we will surely fail. May be, just may be, it isn’t about the future.
So I decided to flip the question to my Facebook friends and followers –
Not surprisingly, I got a lot of responses. I am going to paraphrase what people said and you can tell me if I have missed something or what you want me to add to this.
A. Meaningful connections: Parents said spending time with their children, some said being with their spouses and friends and people in the helping professions said connecting with their clients makes them happy on a daily basis. Most people value this because they can be themselves, free of judgement and pretense.
B. Time for oneself: Moms mainly said they felt happy when they got a few minutes for themselves to have a cup of tea, rest a little while longer, day-dream. I am friends with a lot of readers and it came up more than a few times.
C. Being creative: I am friends with musicians, writers, dancers etc. And all of them said that spending time doing the thing they love the most made them happy!
D. Active self-care / spiritual practice: This came up a few times as well. People are happiest when they are exercising or in connection with a higher power (meditation, praying, etc.)
It’s as much as about what was not said as it was about what was said:
– No one talked about money, cars, clothes, gadgets, awards, recognition, sex etc.
So here’s what I can summarize from this:
Happiness is not a destination to be reached based on some conditions that will be met. It is a daily opportunity to find meaning in all that there already is.
I thought of this and immediately felt guilty. I had to go in and check my privilege. Is happiness really a privilege? When I look around I see all kinds of people that are unhappy – rich, poor, healthy, ill, married, unmarried, etc. And then I realized, that even if it is a privilege, I can use it well.
Happiness is hard work. Daily. Relentlessly. Gently. If it does not work one day, don’t worry. There’s going to be an opportunity tomorrow. Rest and recuperate and start again tomorrow.