I have tried hard to define what makes me happy. I have this recurring feeling that what I am chasing at the time is going to make me happy. As if once I reach that next target, I will finally become satisfied. That does not mean I’ve never experienced spontaneous moments of happiness. Still, it’s how I have defined happy moments to be two different experiences—the moments when I finally accomplish my goal at the time and the random unforeseen moments of happiness.
The more I grow up, the less this makes sense in my life. When something sad or tragic happens, am I supposed to wait until the next moment of happiness to feel joy? What happens if such moment does not please me as I thought it would?
These questions have brought me into a spiral this year but challenging life circumstances, as they tend to do, sent me on a quest to find some answers. I now feel that I do not want to wait to be happy. I want to choose to live in happiness. At first, this did not make much sense to me. A big goal of mine was to graduate college. Ever since I was seven, I thought I would be the happiest person alive once I walked that stage. Don’t get me wrong, graduating was a huge accomplishment that took sacrifice, resilience, and significant effort. Though, once I did, I did not feel any less or more joy overall. It had nothing to do with the title or the piece of paper. I mean, the pleasure I felt had more to do with the person I had become, the experiences that I was able to live, and the fantastic people the journey brought in and out of my life.
In the book “Teachings of Love” by Thich Nhat Hahn says,
“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”
This concept has turned my life upside down because now I get to question every negative thought that goes into my head and play the narrative to serve me best. I am not talking about this toxic positivity of “Yay, life is great; don’t waste time being sad. Just be happy!:-).” It’s the opposite. It means to change the narrative that things must be a certain way. How do we change the narrative? By staying present in the now. Suppose I create a scenario in my head about how I fear/hope/think some event will play out. In that case, I will continuously disappoint myself when such actions don’t happen.
I now choose to wake up and grasp a sense of how I feel. Some days I feel like the most confident and loving version of myself. These days I want to do a million things at once, hang out with loved ones to share my light. I even get an extra workout or re-organize all my drawers. On days like these, looking for moments of happiness is the easiest thing to do. I can play my favorite song or look at my dog and tear up from joy and gratefulness.
What about the days I wake up feeling like there’s nothing to look forward to? These are the days when my resilience gets super tested. I don’t feel like being around people or looking at myself in the mirror. I used to feel sorry for myself on days like these and would listen to that inner voice calling me all kinds of mean adjectives. For a while, I believed it (shoutout therapy for teaching me how to switch the story). I would tell myself all kinds of negative stories that I was not good enough, and that’s why people hated me. That so and so think I am weird and annoying. I mean, the list goes on. Getting to know myself pushed me to look at who I am at my core. I am not perfect or close to it, but I am at peace. I allow myself now to feel the feels. To cry it out to scream at my pillow. To swallow my pride and call a friend for support. Constantly controlling the narrative that these emotions are temporary and they do not define who I am.
A hard lesson I am actively working on every day is not to let people’s projections affect my energy. This concept is an ongoing journey for me. I have great days where I apply all the techniques; there are some when I don’t. The difference now is that I know I am in control of the story I tell myself. Whatever happens outside of that has nothing to do with me. “It’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s not personal.”.
I use gratitude to ground myself and bring joy into my life. If all else fails, I know I have thousands of things to be thankful for. When I can’t think of anything because my mind is clouded with sorrow, I lay on the floor and look up. Whether it is the roof, the stars, cloud, or rain I am staring at. I can find many reasons to be thankful for any of those. And when I’m alone, but I feel lonely, I go back to one of my favorite quotes that says,
“You are a child of the universe,Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927.
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
I hope this brings a glimpse of joy into your day if you are feeling down. If you are in a joyful state, I hope this is a reminder for when life gets tough. A reminder that change and growth are not linear, and we will always find ourselves in and out of this cycle. It is all about finding your balance.
If you got this far, just know it means the whole world to me that you took the time to read this. I would also love to know how to attempt to practice happiness in your daily life. Please, drop a comment with any thoughts or feedback you may have.
2 thoughts on “Is Happiness a Choice?”
Thank you for checking out my blog recently! I hope you enjoyed it.
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I enjoyed reading and thinking about this, thank you for sharing. If I’m capturing a piece of what you said correctly, the set up and relentless pursuit of our goals can potentially end up blinding ourselves to better outcomes while also limiting us from enjoying the process. I absolutely agree, staying in the present is essential.
For me, it comes in waves. If the waves are moving in a direction that causes me happiness, then awesome. If it’s pushing against me, I’m learning that it becomes easier to allow the waves to calm first, letting things process, before attempting to change the direction of it.
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