Happiness; the much sought-after goal for many, the epitome of success for others, that all-consuming warm bubbly feeling that we all pursue at some point.
Happiness is an incredible thing, but for some of us, it's as if it's constantly out of reach. We ‘just want to be happy’, and find ourselves continually agonizing over how we're gonna achieve it (and how we never seem to be able to). It almost becomes a relic on a pedestal, requiring us to do x,y and z in order to even get up to eye level with it.
When we have an idea like this perched up away from us, we're not really making it accessible. We're using it as a measuring stick to evaluate ourselves - and when we realise where we're at - using that same stick to beat ourselves up.
What I've learned is, regardless what goal we're chasing, we need to understand what it means for us personally to have any chance of getting it. Success, beauty, recovery, love, freedom - anything we're seeking needs to make sense in our own terms. This enables it to really become ours.
So we can tirelessly say 'we just want to be happy' but the thing is, that means something different for each of us. And until we nail down what that actually is, it's going to remain chilling up there on that pedestal.
What's wonderful though, is how many things happiness can be and how limitless that list is.
For some it’s the simple things; a cuddle with a pet, a walk in nature, a good book, snuggling into a cosy bed, being with the ones we love, seeing them smile, hearing them laugh from the very bottom of their bellies. For others; happiness is accepting oneself, feeling a sense of belonging, creating something new, having purpose. Happiness is connection for some, and being alone for others.
It's beautifully subjective and we each get to put our own diverse definition on it.
Discovering our own definition of happiness is pivotal in us actually attaining it. If we really want to get it, we need to begin the essential exploration of what this word means to us.
Curiosity is often the crux of gaining clarity, so maybe we could ask:
What is our fundamental attraction to this word?
What does it look like for us?
What do we think has to happen for us to be happy?
Could we actually already have it, if we look a little harder?
When we think of it, does it mean being happy all the time?
Does it mean we’re never sad?
Do we need to experience all of our emotions in order to feel real happiness?
Are we actually just seeking to be content?
Are we actually just seeking some peace?
What will change if we get it?
When did we last feel it?
Do we just want to feel okay? Comfortable? Relaxed?
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” Brené Brown
Some of the things that make me happiest now are things I wasn't able to appreciate before. Some are things I didn't even realise I had and some are new, amazing things that I'm delighted to be able to truly enjoy. Some days I know it's easier to find happiness than others and some days it's just gotta be created within. But at least, I know I have it there to connect to.
In my own pursuit, I've read article after article about happiness and I genuinely love it as a subject. I've learned that it's highly correlated with gratitude, connection and being present. I've learned it's 'an inside job', I've found suggestions of what to let go of to get it, what to start doing, how to think. I've read about what helps it and what hinders it.
But maybe I just needed to catch it when I felt it and appreciate what made up that moment. Maybe I needed to just stop complaining. Maybe we need to stop looking everywhere for how to get it and turn inward to see where it actually lives.
Maybe we've got to knock it off that pedestal and realise that it's got little splinters in every little moment of everyday.
But until we get specific, we have ourselves chasing a vague ideal.
And how can we ever reach our destination if we don't know where we're going?