Humans strive for joy, crave it.
Last week, a friend of mine told me she is struggling with depression.
She is a woman I admire deeply, one who hums with creativity, fun, and perkiness. As we talked, she paused for a long time and then told me that after having her first baby at 40, she has faced intense anxiety, fear and many dark feelings.
Her face was different than I was used to seeing, changed. My friend was in desperate need of hope, of joy, of happiness. And, as I listened, I realized that this up and down, this back and forth, from joy to despair, pleasure to pain, desire to fear, is within everyone.
I’ve had this same experience as my friend. This craving for happiness, a deep search for glee, a yearning for waves of joy. I want to help my friend in some way, to shed light on how to pass through her dark period to peace. So I decided to go to my network in an effort to find out what others thought about happiness.
I wanted to find out how people found happiness, how they kept it and what sources of happiness existed out there.
The results were fascinating and wonderful!
“I found happiness through forgiveness, I melted away the hardness around my heart, a lighter heart has more space, more love for others.”
~ Samara Mondello
“My biggest source of happiness lately has been deepening my spiritual connection to my guru and being consistent and dedicated to my sadhana and spiritual processes. I am receiving incredible joy from my spiritual connection and relationship with the divine.”
~ Sarah Garney
“Happiness is freedom. It is when we let go of the need to control every person and every situation in our lives. It is when we stop taking everything personally and we focus on loving and caring for ourselves every single day.”
~ Lisa Beck
“I found happiness through engaging my mind and body in the creative process. The actual project is not important, it just seems like happiness comes from whole, embodied creative expression. I get my big happiness doses through writing, playing drums, helping clients, playing with my daughter on the beach. I think happiness is our natural state of being and we’ve forgotten how to just be present. We get caught up in all the minutia and running around and we need to remember to stop. Stop and laugh. And smile!”
~ Kris Katsuko Oster
“I think people seeking happiness must first discover what makes them tick and go from there. For me it’s Love.”
~ Asia Warren
“I dive deeper and deeper into me, and the deeper I go into me the more I see and hear others and I find so many things to laugh about in the world around me as a result. Also, making love is so, so, so, hugely important. That orgasmic climax where we lose our sense of being separate and merge into our beloved, that sweet space of peace and bliss, gives life and radiance.”
~ Dominique Hackett
As I read the responses from women in my network, I asked myself again: what does happiness look like to me?
For a long time, it looked like the Cosbys on TV, it looked like the neighbors who weren’t going through divorce, it looked like the baby of the family getting all the love…it looked like whatever I didn’t have. I notice that some of my friends want a husband, children, a house, to make them happy.
Some people want to be single, free, in a non-committal life as a path to happiness. I was talking to another friend yesterday who in my eyes has it all: husband for nine years, two beautiful children, wealth and stability. She told me that I have it all: traveling constantly, the world being my home, freedom, dating whoever I choose, etc. We both think the grass is greener on the other side.
After our talk, we both agreed that we are each in a good place of acceptance in our own lives, each having just the right experiences. The journey to happiness starts with where one is right now, right here. “Happiness starts with finding what makes one tick,” as Asia Warren says.
The yogis say that we are happiness in our truth, our core, our soul. So why do we look outside of our selves for this thing? And how do we stop looking outside for happiness? How can I start looking only within? Sarah Garney said something else that really answers this for me. She wrote, “Life becomes a process of being true to myself to the best of my ability and peace-making and finding peace with what is. And patience. And balance.”
How true! When I make this day into a wonderfully balanced blend of eight hours work, eight hours play and eight hours sleep, for instance, I really zing with joy and glee. When I drink plenty of water, dance for an hour, make love, complete the next step in a work project, laugh with friends in the line at the market, giggle while texting, turn my face to the sun and experience an infinite moment of God’s light, I am happy.
And when I wake from eight blissful hours of sleep, dreams and warmth into a long stretch…well, that’s happiness, right here, right now.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Flickr / Lon&Queta