Reflections on Happiness
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
Brace yourself for sappy, emotional content.
This post is a bit different than posts I’ve written in the past. My posts typically focus on a certain topic that affects the LGBT community directly, and I’ll talk about my opinion on that topic and why I think it’s important to write about. With this post I’m venturing into more personal territory, because there’s something I’ve been feeling lately that I really wanted to write about: happiness.
For the last several months, I would generally consider myself to be happy. I did a lot of reflecting on what that meant and how it felt. For me, that often means writing things out and allowing the words to filter through the things I’m feeling until they are distilled into something that makes sense. Here’s what I discovered.
Happiness isn’t a constant. We are complex creatures capable of processing multiple emotions at the same time - so even when we feel generally happy, there are still going to be things that hurt us, things that scare us, things that bore us, and things that push us toward the darker edges of our minds.
I think people often view happiness as a character trait, rather than what it actually is - an emotion. The problem with this view is that character traits are relatively unchanging, and they are nearly impossible to achieve. Many of us paint happiness as the ending to the fairy tale of our lives: once we reach that state, everything will be amazing and we will live happily ever after.
In reality, happiness is fleeting - it’s not a permanent fixture. Happiness needs to be appreciated while it’s around. I think we tend to put a lot of weight on future events bringing happiness - when you get a new job, or when you finally move out, or when you get a car that works - then you’ll be happy. But that just forces us to push happiness out of the present and attaches it to meaningless future event after meaningless future event. Happiness is always there - you just have to look around to find it.
Here’s where I’ve found it:
Happiness is watching a movie outside on a warm summer night, with the lights of the city twinkling in the background and the stars fighting to be seen in the dark sky above.
Happiness is listening to a song you love in the car with the windows down, screaming the lyrics and not caring about the stares of the people on the sidewalk.
Happiness is making pumpkin spiced pancakes for dinner when the temperature falls below 75 degrees in July, because you want to pretend it’s fall.
Happiness is sitting in your favorite chair with a good book in hand, a candle burning to fill your home with the scent of something new.
Happiness is sharing a couch with your friends, each of whom is a better person than the last - and all of whom make you smile and be thankful you have them in your life.
Happiness is going on dates with people who make your heart flutter - and even going on dates that end in complete and utter disaster, because at least you tried.
Happiness is getting dizzy off the glimmer of a fireworks show viewed from the roof of your apartment building, gently buzzed from two beers.
Happiness is knowing your family is only ever a 15-minute drive away, and being able to hug them whenever you need a little extra support.
Happiness is walking into your apartment after a long day of work and opening the blinds, letting the evening light leak into the room as the sunset fades into a street-lit night.
Happiness is laughing until your stomach hurts at the stupidest thing someone said, which wouldn’t make sense to anyone other than the people in that moment with you.
Happiness is looking down the lens of possibility and getting excited about the many different pathways your life could take, never knowing which of those paths you are going to travel.
Happiness is learning to look past your flaws and love yourself despite them - or even because of them - because you know that you cannot change them.
Happiness is stepping out of your comfort zone often enough that the thing you were scared of becomes something you love, because you learned how to beat down your fears.
Happiness, in essence, is looking around and taking stock of the good things in life.
Now I’ll tell you what happiness isn’t. It isn’t something you can hope to feel all the time, because this world is tough and there are things that will hurt you and there will be things that challenge you and there will be awful things that happen that you will want to change, but can’t. Happiness is not some light at the end of a tunnel, or a destination you can reach. Happiness is not easily seen by everyone, because some people just have it harder than others.
But I promise, it’s there somewhere.
This post is not meant to tell you how to be happy, or that you are living your life incorrectly by striving for happiness. Despite what popular media tells you, money and success and privilege do tend to make it easier to enjoy happy moments, because you are relieved of the stresses of fighting to survive. I know that. But I wanted to share my own experiences with happiness, with the hope that it helps someone realize that happiness can be found by looking around and soaking in the moments that make life worth living.
Don’t put so much pressure on the concept of happiness. Just live your life and be present in those moments that make you thankful to be alive. You may be surprised at what you find.
Today’s post is brought to you by Uma by Panama Wedding, because it’s a song that has always sounded like happiness to me. It’s been added to my blog playlist, which you can download on Spotify and Apple Music.
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