On Kim’s blog, Muse in the Valley :: Northward Bound, I commented, “Gratitude is the answer. Happiness is not something that can be found outside of us. It is within us and easily felt in gratitude acknowledged & expressed in the moment.”
In a group discussion on Facebook I commented, “I think some who seek happiness believe that they aren't happy because they aren't happy all-the-time. They're always looking outside themselves for happiness, and when someone ticks them off....well, obviously they're not happy. Happiness is in the moment, not in the distant future...."
I was a miserable child; abused repeatedly by various individuals and brought up by someone I perceived as miserable. Happiness was always something illusive and unknown. Happiness was something given to you if you deserved it. Apparently, I did not. Apparently, I wasn’t good enough to be happy.
As I went through therapy as a teenager, my counselor told me that he thought I was afraid to be happy. He was probably right. I had no idea what it meant to be happy. I only knew that it was all I ever wanted…to be happy. For whatever reason, I resisted.
During later adult years, having returned to therapy, I realized that I wouldn’t know a joY-FULL moment if it Gibbs slapped me (NCIS fans will get that). Happiness, it seemed, would remain elusive and unknown.
In her blog post, Don’t Seek Happiness…, Kim shared a quote from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It didn’t resonate with me right away.
After allowing her blog post, the discussion of happiness on Facebook and the idea of happiness to percolate for a while I asked myself, “Am I happy?”
Well…I’m not unhappy.
That’s when it hit me. I’m. Not. Unhappy.
“…freedom from unhappiness is attainable now….” ~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
I haven’t found happiness. It isn't something I can purchase in a store or get from somebody else. It isn't a place I will someday arrive to. It is the journey itself and I have found ways to surrender to the idea of finding happiness, enjoy the journey and not be unhappy.
Over the course of the past several years, I have traded in those books on how to be happy for books on developing my creativity, law of attraction and I subscribed to the idea that "Thoughts become things." (Thank you Mike Dooley). Meanwhile, I have slowly begun to keep track of the joY-FULL moments I experience. To simply take notice of the moments. I’ve stopped in the middle of a belly laugh to acknowledge that I am in fact having a good time and…happy in that moment. I’ve surrendered to the idea that happiness is feeling like Pollyanna all-of-the-time. Being happy does not mean I NEVER have a bad hair day. I can be happy, yet still get angry, experience frustration and disappointment and sometimes feel depressed...but that doesn't mean I'm miserable and UN-happy. For me, happiness is a collection of moments when I am not unhappy. The more moments of not being unhappy I experience, the happier I am. Moments when I:
- Count my blessings and write a gratitude list
- Acknowledge myself; whether it’s for doing the dishes or stepping out of the box
- Do something creative; doodle, collage, make a card, take a photograph, write or art journal
- Sit on the patio, sippin’ a cuppa and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood
- Choose to ask my daughter to do her chores; rather than screaming at her for not doing them
- Send out surprise snail mail
- Put on loud music and dance around the house
- Get to tuck my daughter into bed...because she's almost 14 and still wants me to (or, at least lets me) :)
- Go for a walk, toss a ball for the dog, or stop to admire blooming flowers
- Can feel the cool delta breeze coming in from the bay and listen to the tree branches rustle
These are just some of the joY-FILLED moments I pause to embrace. I continue to string them together creating minutes, hours, days, weeks and months when I can look in the mirror and say:
Well, I’m not unhappy.
For me this huge, after a childhood filled with abandonment, abuse and trauma, because, after all, isn’t that what happiness is? Being. Not. Un-happy.
Share your thoughts on happiness in the comments below. Are you NOT un-happy? Is happiness something you still find yourself looking for? What does happiness mean to you?