Wednesday, 25 January 2017

On Happiness

Happiness. Ha-ppi-ness. Lightness in the "ha", a sprightly spring in the "ppi" and a serene ending with the "ness".  The sounds themselves embody the elusiveness of this feeling; the word almost an onomatope.

We often glorify this, the pursuit of happiness. We search and search and search through our days to find some pinnacle upon which we can stand, plant a flag and say at last to the world and to the limitless skies, "I am happy!" We swipe through photographs, picture perfect in their quality and composition and imagine our friends and enemies and think to ourselves, "I bet they're happy." We watch videos and TED Talks about ultra-successful people who followed their dreams and did what they loved and now are bathing in some glorious beam of success and admiration. And on those days when in the pursuit of happiness, we find ourselves entirely defeated, we wonder, "is any of this even worth it if I'm not happy?"

I catch myself often dreaming of a different life. Where my life revolves around my writing. Where I write pages and pages of language, read by hundreds of thousands of people and I receive a pay check for doing the thing I love most. I see myself traveling to mysterious places, sitting shoulder to shoulder next to hunting tribesmen and misunderstood artists and child prodigies, listening in awe to their histories and crafting them into compelling stories. In this life I see myself as happy, never wanting more or less than what I have.

I am frequently wallowing in a pit of discontentment. I wonder if I should be spending my life working 18 hours a day instead of teaching English on a beach somewhere and sipping coconut water out the shell.

I feel like we all do this. We imagine some greener pasture, some warmer embrace than we already have. But the truth is, we imagine this at every point, irrespective of where we are - and that is what makes humans move forward everyday. We are not really in pursuit of happiness, are we? We are in the pursuit of bettering ourselves and so we put ourselves in these "would be" situations that eventually motivate us to take that next step or that big leap.

Happiness. Ha-ppi-ness. I don't have to think twice before I swipe my credit card (lightness), I get to share drinks and meals with my family every few months (sprightly spring) and I fell in love with a man who is as good as gold and as warm as a fall fireplace (serenity).

It's not a mountain you climb or some light at the end of a dreary tunnel. It doesn't come by default if you choose a profession you love, it doesn't arrive if you don't make the effort every day to invite it. It's a conscious decision, a high-investment activity that you must willingly undertake. As anyone with some wisdom would have told us, happiness is the sum of minuscule parts, a piecemeal collection of smooth pebbles in a satin pouch.

It is the song you hum in the shower at the end of your day or the chance you give yourself to read a beautiful book. It's the chill of ocean foam on a hot winter afternoon on the beach. It's the tired voice of your loved ones at the end of the day soothing you like a gentle massage. It's the laughter of your brother when you crack a terrible joke or the victory you feel when you outshine yourself at work. It's your friend's glee when they receive one of your postcards.

I choose now to revel in these little joys. They make my shoulders stronger to hold up the unavoidable drudgeries, the high-pressure decisions, the fears of failure that I face every single day. You may say I'm a fool, but I think I'm quite enjoying being a glass half full kind of girl. :)