Happiness is a fickle thing.
A conversation. A random memory. A sudden feeling of anxiety. A comment. A glance. A mistake. A text. A post on social media. A foreboding thought. A nightmare. An unanswered text. A stranger being rude.
These, among a near infinite list of similar variables out of our control, can cause the feeling of happiness evaporate in mere milliseconds.
Each day when I’ve woken up recently, as I put my feet on the floor, I’ve thought to myself something along the lines of today’s goal is to be happy.
I’m not sure why I do that. I don’t really buy into the whole “Happiness is a mindset!” sort of mantra. I don’t even think we need to be happy everyday, or that I’ve failed for the day if I didn’t feel overwhelmingly happy or something. In fact, I think emotions like sadness or feelings of grief or loneliness can be helpful, even when unpleasant. It’s ok to get angry about things from time to time as well.
Emotions are tools. And we can’t force ourselves or others to feel specific emotions. They are part of the dance of our daily lives. Emotions teach us insights about ourselves if we let them. They are subjective, and they most definitely are not facts. Yet if someone tells you they feel scared or hurt or angry about something, you can’t tell them it’s untrue.
I have felt more content recently, happier. So I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to tell myself to be happy when I wake up in the morning. But I think by doing that, I recognize the details throughout the day that bring me happiness. And I try to appreciate those moments more fully.
I’m realizing that I feel the most happy not when I try to determine to be happy throughout a day, but when I recognize those moments of happiness and live into them fully. I determine to be present in the happiness.
The moments of sadness are also easier when I am present in them. It keeps feeling of guilt and shame away, too. Instead of having the thoughts of “Why am I sad right now? I should be happy? Why can’t I just be happy?” I recognize the sadness for what it is. My thoughts have slowly begun to be more along the lines of “Wow. I feel so sad right now. What is going on right now? What does this tell me about myself? What could bring me comfort in this situation right now?”
And that’s just me.
Add family and friends to the scenario, and their own emotions and histories and human encounters, and things get messy really quickly. It’s part of what makes every day an adventure.
Living in a house with preschoolers as well as teenage girls, I’ve learned to try and be prepared for anything, or at least not be surprised by anything that may happen within the day.
I live and intimately work with thirteen human beings. The details of their humanity, like all of us, are rarely black and white. The facts are fuzzy, and often subjective. But the facts of our pasts don’t have to have control over the facts or emotions of our present self.
P.S. – I truly believe that to feel happiness deeply and regularly, you have to be a person of gratitude. The happiest people I know are grateful people. It’s just seems like it’s a part of their DNA.
Joy is something that runs deeper than happiness, at least the way I see it, and joy is nearly impossible to experience without gratitude. Happiness is what pops up in the random moments and encounters throughout a day. You’re way more likely to experience happiness in your daily life if you’re already starting from a place of joy, and therefore gratitude.