“Am I really happy?”
While driving and listening to the rain recently, I started to contemplate how I was feeling. I wasn’t feeling sad, depressed or stressed, but I also wasn’t brimming with vibrancy and excitement. I sat with it a few moments, then came to the conclusion that I am happy; it’s alright to feel a bit off sometimes.
Then I thought, “Am I really happy?”
I spent the last number of years working on me, unloading much of the baggage I had accumulated in my life. I have invested countless hours raising my level of awareness, learning how I function and being authentically me. Overall, this has brought me to a place where I am much happier.
I recently noticed I felt like I was in a funk. There was much going on in my life, accompanied by many changes. I needed to know if I was really happy, because if I wasn’t, something needed to change.
I know myself well enough to know it’s time to sit down and unpack this.
What does being happy really mean? It often feels like a catch phrase for all types of positive emotions. I realized I needed to define what being happy means, and I have since formulated an interesting definition and perspective on what being happy means to me.
I used to believe that being happy meant we always focused on the positive, feeling uplifted and cheerful. I now realize being cheerful is just expressing one emotion. I also believed that being happy was determined by our outside circumstances. That’s when the lightbulb went off.
Being happy, as I now define it, is a total state of being—not an emotion. It is having a sense of peace and harmony about me and my life, regardless of what is going on around me.
In looking at what happiness is, it is also helpful to look at what happiness is not. Happiness is not achieving all our goals and getting what we want. Relying on external circumstances or people to bring us happiness is giving away our personal power, like we are handing over the key to how we experience our life. Our lives are too precious to be giving that away.
Achieving our dreams will certainly bring joy and fulfillment, and I’m all for success and achievement, but they won’t bring about true, long-lasting happiness. Our true goal is to achieve happiness through all of life’s ups and downs. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel happy through all the twists and turns?
Happiness also doesn’t mean only feeling positive emotions. We are human beings, and we are meant to feel all types of emotions. Happiness means allowing ourselves to feel the negative emotions, but being mindful not to set up camp there. We feel them, and move on. I believe suppressing our emotions and denying what is going on for us is a quick way to become unhappy. It is completely normal to feel angry, sad or depressed at times. It doesn’t mean that’s who we are; we may just be feeling that emotion in that particular moment.
It seems that the things we had to fight for often have the sweetest rewards. I corralled my thoughts and came up with a recipe that I consider essential for achieving happiness consistently along life’s path.
Recipe for Happiness.
One large handful of acceptance.
Two scoops of self-love.
Five heaping teaspoons of trust.
One large bowl of faith.
A main ingredient of happiness is acceptance. Accepting ourselves for who we are—and I mean who we are to our core, our true, raw, authentic selves. This means accepting and recognizing all the beauty that is inherent in us, all the talents and gifts we offer this world. We often shrug off our talents and gifts, because they come easily to us. It would behoove us to remember that these gifts are often challenging for others. We must acknowledge and love ourselves for who we are, and for our natural contributions to this world.
We need to accept that we are all a work in progress. I often catch myself saying that if I’m living and breathing, I am still a student of life. We are both students and teachers concurrently. No one has it all figured out. We need to love, accept and have compassion for ourselves through that process of learning.
Acceptance goes beyond self-acceptance; it also means accepting where we are in our lives and accepting our circumstances. When I have moments of doubt, I remind myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. This provides me with an incredible sense of peace and calm in my heart.
Accepting our circumstances does not mean we don’t set goals and take steps to achieve those goals; it means appreciating each moment as it is. There are jewels to be discovered in every moment, if we take the time and remain open to the possibilities. Look for the cracks of light in those dark moments.
I also discovered that trust is a significant ingredient of happiness. Learning to trust ourselves and the decisions we make is crucial if we want our happiness to rise. This was a significant one for me, as I realized I had spent much of my life looking for validation from others. If I trust myself, I don’t require approval from others. They are not living my life; only I can know what is best for me.
What is our general perspective on life? Do we believe the universe is supportive and loving, or do we believe the universe is harsh and cruel? I have this calm sense that the universe wants me to be happy and joyful. I also believe that when challenges come across my path, it is because I need to learn something new to take me to a better place. I also know I will always be given the tools, resources and strength I need to deal with these struggles. All of this requires total faith.
Faith is blind, but also completely visionary. There is no guarantee that this is the way life works. I prefer to believe this version of reality than the alternative.
I am not suggesting for a moment that this is an easy recipe. It is one that takes work to achieve, and then mindfulness and determination to sustain. Once we reach happiness, we must make happiness a choice and priority on a daily basis.
I have gotten in the habit of saying to myself at least once a day, “I am happy. I choose to be happy. I am open to receiving more happiness.”
It is up to us to create happiness; it’s an inside job. We are all worthy of being happy. Nobody gains by our lacking complete peace and harmony within ourselves. To the contrary, we all gain from increased happiness; it’s contagious.
As with any recipe, the recipe for happiness needs to be tweaked and fine-tuned until we find the exact combination of ingredients that pleases our pallet. This combination will change as we go through the seasons of our life, but the basics will remain the same.
And as with all the best recipes, they are passed down to generations to follow, creating a legacy—this one, a legacy of happiness.
Author: Andrea Horvath
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Author’s Own