I started this search for happiness as a way to push myself out of my own mind and get out of my own way. Inside of my head, it’s a dark and dank cave that’s cluttered, messy. There are ghosts, a few demons, and foul-smelling odour filters out the good in my life. They cloud my vision, and they prevent me from truly experiencing the real, simple pleasures of life.
Not that I don’t enjoy those simple moments. I do! I think? If there’s been a reoccurring theme in my last few posts, it’s been a reminder that there is power, purpose in the simplicity of a swan bite or a cup of tea. For life to amaze, it doesn’t have to be filled with an epic firework display. It can be a small Christmas cracker and a stupid paper crown.
Are Christmas crackers everywhere? Slender cardboard tubes filled with trinkets, a hat, and a stupid joke that makes everyone laugh/groan. Traditionally, two people grab either end and pull. There’s a crack as they snap the tiny explosive device and the smell of sulphur becomes a holiday sense memory.
Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a picture and, yes, they give these things to small children. Why? Loud noises and silly hats are simple pleasures.
Which brings me back to whatever I was trying to say.
I seem to stumble upon moments of happiness and these simple pleasures quite accidentally. In the moment, I don’t appreciate what’s happening or how I feel. I float through the experience and let it pass me by. It’s only later, when I put the pieces together, that it suddenly feels like a slap across the face. I snap out of the fog I’ve been in and, oh wow, that was amazing.
Monday’s post is a perfect example. It took me over thirty years to realize how happy I’d been, sitting on a boat and lazily floating down a canal. Granted, I was seven, and the complexities of emotions were above my pay-grade. How could I possibly know the importance of such a simple, pure moment? I couldn’t! I was still learning to be a person.
What’s my excuse now? Um, I still don’t know how to be a functioning person, but my emotional range and capacity for understanding certain complexities must’ve grown. Right? Oh, dear.
Finding Happy is my clumsy attempt at changing this mindset. It’s a reckless attempt at optimism, hopefulness, and unicorns prancing over rainbows. I want to find a less cynical world view and develop an outlook that’s brighter, friendlier and full of cute puppies. I want to walk down the street with a smile on my face for no reason at all. I want you to look at me, all perky and whatnot, and wonder what I’m on, then ask if you can have some.
Except, today I’m not feeling all that happy, and I don’t really have the energy to go out and find it. And, by going out, I mean find a socially distant place where I can follow health guidelines and stay safe. Which is a lot of effort for a moment of happiness! So, I suppose my real problem is that I don’t have the pluck to manufacture happy out of tea leaves and hiking boots.
Not today. Not right now. I just can’t.
I’m not sad or overly depressed. I’m tired and worn out. A familiar thought, the good old what’s the point train, is twirling around, and I’m getting dizzy. Finding Happy on a day like this? I’m not even sure where to look for it and, I don’t really want to do it.
Sure, I could force it and conjure up something half-assed, but it wouldn’t be honest, and what’s the point of doing any of this if I can’t be straight with you. So, here’s some authenticity you didn’t ask for. I did try to write something about soup and how making it reminded me of my grandfather. So heartwarming, as well as belly filling. The soup was really quite good.
Sure, making the recipe triggered happy sensations, and telling you about it wouldn’t have been a lie, per se. It just felt like I was trying to squeeze toothpaste out of an ants anus because I didn’t fully connect with the emotion. It wasn’t…Real? Is that the word I’m looking for?
Hold up! Why would there be toothpaste inside an ant’s lower gastrointestinal system? I don’t know but typing it made me smirk and smile. Does that mean I felt a moment of happiness? Yes, yes, I think it did, but for how long? Now that’s a question that tickles the left nostril.
To continue with the straight-shooter motif because I can’t seem to shut that bastard up. Silly analogies and bowls of homemade soup feel like a temporary hint of happiness because it seems, I’m fickle and Happy is a good name for hummingbird who has better places to be and things to see. Could I write a longer sentence?
You betcha but, for the love of the few eyes reading this, I should refrain. For the record, though, I could totally write a longer, more complex and compound sentence.
Just not right now because I think, in my roundabout sort of way, I’m actually trying to make a point. And as soon as I figure out what that point is, I’ll let you know. For now, I’m sticking with honesty and hoping it won’t wallop me in indecent places.
There’s a big problem with this quest to find happiness, reckless optimism, and all the other fancy buzz words we hear in the lifestyle community. Correction, there are multiple problems, but I’m jumping the gun. Why am I using so many weaponry phrases today? I’m a pacifist, for goodness sake!
My main problem, when it comes to happiness, is a matter of sustainability. I find these moments where I’m genuinely happy, and there’s this spark of joy flickering in the centre of my chest. I could be wrong, but I think that spark is happiness, and when it grows into a fully formed flame, then I’ll have achieved the ultimate goal. I will be joyful, content, and I’ll finally understand what those Christmas carollers were harmonizing about.
If fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side? (Thank you, Master Yoda) Then, by that logic, happiness leads to joy, and joy leads to the bright side. That’s where I want to go! The shiny, bright, joyful side, but I can’t seem to maintain happiness long enough for it to turn into joy.
For a long time, I just assumed I wasn’t capable of happiness, so joy was out of the question. Now, I know that I can be happy, and I want to be content, but I can’t sustain that feeling. If I can’t hold onto it, will this experiment be a lost cause? Am I just chasing olives down a steep hill and hoping it magically turns itself into oil.
Did I just watch a show about olive oil manufacturing in Italy? Yep, it was interesting in an I’m so bored, and I can’t stand the silence, sort of way.
I can jump from one moment to the next and find reasons to be happy at that moment. That’s actually the easy part. If you look hard enough, and you’re desperate enough to put intelligible words on a page, then you will Find Happy in a stubbed toe if you have to.
It doesn’t make it any less valuable or authentic! Those moments are genuine, real, and meaningful. They’re honest, they’re a part of my story, and they are my clumsy attempts at fulfilling my desire to Find Happy.
So, yes, I found a moment of happiness in a swan bite, and it was a genuine, real, honest to God happy. It wasn’t bullshit. I wasn’t squeezing toothpaste out of an insect’s rectum. Every word I write is a sincere expression of my thoughts and feelings, but how do I sustain that feeling? That’s what I’m really struggling to figure out.
How do I take a fleeting emotion and capture it in a jar like a firefly? It’s not possible and, I think that might be animal cruelty, which I staunchly oppose. I’m always going to have to let it go and move on to the next moment. And the next. And the next. And, I think I know why I feel a bit worn out.
I’m chasing an apparition that’s caught in a windstorm. There’s no way I can catch up to it, let alone capture it in my glass jar. It doesn’t matter how fast I run or how hard I search; it will always get away. So, what do I do?
I’ve hit a roadblock, and I can’t seem to bypass. It isn’t going to stop me from Finding Happy, but it’s tripping me up. It’s bringing my quest to a temporary stop, and that’s not a bad thing. Every journey has these moments, and it gives me a chance to stop, think, and reevaluate my route.
It’s giving me the chance to ask an important question: What if I’m going about this all wrong?
When I started, I wanted to go out into the world and try new things, but the world is shut down so, I’m limited. That’s why I shrunk my expectations and tried small things, revisited old memories, and tried to capture a feeling that I don’t fully understand. I thought that if I could feel it for a few minutes, then it would be enough to carry me on to the next moment. I thought it would build momentum, but it hasn’t and, now I’m tired.
The problem is, and I should’ve seen this sooner, I don’t fully understand the concept of happiness. I’ve spent a lot of my time living in these darker emotions. Fear, grief, depression, and anxiety have been my companions for so long that I don’t know how to feel anything else.
I know, logically, that these feelings aren’t healthy in the long term, and most people run away from them. But when you’ve lived with them for so long, they become comfortable because they are familiar. I know what these feelings are, I can name them, and I know where they come from. They’re not pleasant, but we’ve been together so long that I don’t know how to let them go and let new feelings in. Pleasant emotions are scarier than the ones I know too well, because I don’t know how to name them, feel them, or identify their origins.
Does that make any sense?
Despite my desire to live a happier life, and this quest to find things that inspire optimism, I don’t think I know what that means. I don’t know how to let myself be happy. I don’t know, or fully understand, what happiness is so, how can I find something I don’t know, understand, or fully appreciate?
Now that I see the words on this page, it seems like a logical question that I should’ve answered before I started looking for it. I should’ve spent some time defining happiness and how it feels, the purpose it serves, and how to sustainably convert it into a lasting natural resource.
To Find Happy, I first need to figure out how to feel it and what it means. What does it mean to be happy? If you know the answer, then hit me up in the comments or send me an email. I’m genuinely asking because I think that, once I answer those questions, I can learn how to embrace this unfamiliar emotion and let it grow into a full-fledged flame.
Which is a concept I’m going to have to sit with for a while.
Y’know, Keri-Lee, I have heard a bunch of stuff about positivity and mindsets over the past couple of years, much of which tends to feel now like pure mantra. But trying to counter it, to go a different way, is so difficult now it’s become a doctrine. It’s like denying the sky beneath a sunset in full bloom.
But sometimes I hit those moments when, like you say, so ething shocks me, knocks me out of me and shows me a me I didn’t realise was there… or had simply stopped having faith in.
These moments are like superpowered technicolour fireflies, more awesome than a gazillion other happy places combined, and sometimes a whole year’s worth of totally sucky stuff can wither in their presence. They… and I know I’ve used this phrase before… surprise me with me.
And the cool thing? You can do that. Like the time I sent you something I had scribbled just after dad’s funeral, and you sent me back the most awesome response ever. You have, since the moment I first read you, bristled with this gorgeous, totally engaging, totally viscerally honest word power.
I think that’s your happy fire – and it might not always look like picture-book happiness, but it is a gazillion times more awesome, and I for one treasure you for it. Honest I do.
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