November 4, 2021

What Happiness Isn’t (& Is).


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Happiness doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.

And, we have to learn to let it be, as it is and as it comes.

Without qualifiers. Without prerequisites.

We seek happy lives, no? Countless articles, self-help books, motivational speakers, and all those good-looking Instagram life coaches doing yoga splits at sunrise in Bryce Canyon push “happiness” as the ultimate goal. Why not? It’s what we all want, right?

But, our happiness isn’t a magical, mystical place that finally materializes after years of searching. It’s not the summit we’ve been conditioned to think it is.

These days, I’m choosing to find some happiness by simply circling the mountain. I’m taking in all the sights, sounds, and wonders. I’m tripping along the way, maybe, but getting back up again. I’m learning to enjoy the actual journey itself, “warts and all,” instead of pining for the distant (and elusive) clichéd peak, because the elation that comes from having “climbed to the top” is probably short-lived. If I’ve made it, then what?

Happiness, as a human condition, is both simple and complicated because it’s ever-evolving. What makes us feel happy today might not be what makes us feel happy tomorrow. Amid the perils of COVID-19, our quest for perfect circumstances has been put to the test. Outside influences created a less than ideal environment for “feeding our spirit,” so we’ve had to learn how to nourish ourselves from the inside out.

“Happy” is what we are told to be. But, happy is only held in our body, mind, and soul when our needs are being met, and we’re simultaneously meeting the needs of others. Happiness becomes more attainable as a constant state of being as soon as we stop thinking it must be perfect in order for it to feel authentic or complete. We can be happy and a “work in progress” at the same time.

We are all f*cked up. There’s another way to put it, of course, but I like that one. We react, we act impulsively, we let our emotions fly, we get jealous, we lose our sh*t, and then we back-peddle and apologize and “work through” our emotions. Or, at least most of us do. Our people forgive us, hopefully, and then we move on, having “grown” from the experience.

Some of us talk too much, some of us don’t talk much at all. Some of us communicate masterfully but can’t seem to get our eating under control. Some of us forget to reach out. Some of us give too much. We harbor resentment and grudges. We don’t apologize quickly. We get in our own way. Some of us are stuck behind steel bars we’ve built with our own hands.

Human energy is a swinging pendulum of mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and just trying to do it right (or better) the next time. Growth is the best way to cope with our imperfect selves.

How can we be happy when we’re flawed, through and through?

Well, I think we can learn to “embrace the ugly” just a little. We can stop striving for ideal, and just keep it real. We can also focus a bit on what happiness isn’t.

Happiness isn’t a perfect body draped over a rock paired with an inspirational quote.

It’s not a selfie, or a reel, or a story. It’s not a tweet going viral. It’s definitely not money or fame. Just ask Lindsay Lohan.

Even though it sure feels good, it’s not the adoration, validation, or instant gratification that comes from social media feedback.

It’s not a 4.0.

It’s not an Ivy League college.

It’s not a scale.

Happiness isn’t perfect timing. When we wait and wait for the timing to be just right, life tends to pass us by.

It isn’t perfect love. No love is perfect because we all act like jerks sometimes. Loving ourselves and our partners “as is” expands our ability to love and be of benefit to other people in other ways. We accept, we let it be, and we learn.

Happiness isn’t having everything. It’s having enough.

Happiness isn’t being everything to everyone. It’s knowing we are enough, as is.

Happiness isn’t a party. The good times sure feel good, but they flicker and fleet.

Happiness isn’t judgement. It doesn’t come from gossip or passive aggressive comments.

It isn’t shopping. Or a vacation.

It’s not a walk down the shoreline, sun setting, waves crashing. Happiness, rather, is the fact that we can walk. Wholly comprehending this “tiny” detail is “simple abundance.” It leads to the enlightenment we seek. Just ask the guy in the wheelchair who doesn’t get great traction in the sand.

Happiness comes from recognizing what it isn’t. It isn’t the end game. It’s the moment.

It’s knowing what we’ve got, right here, right now. It’s connection. It’s service to others, and ourselves. It’s our health. Our freedom. Our children. Our voices. Our choices. Our wisdom. Our growth.

Yes, it’s even our age. Right here, right now.

It’s a cold beer on a hot summer day. Or a hot fire on a cold winter night. It’s the big bad moon sitting way up high behind wafting, smokey clouds, goddamn gorgeous in its moody imperfection.

It’s the wind in the trees whispering, “Hey you, it’s time to put on a jacket, for goodness sake.”

It’s a chirping baby bird with broken wings, just singing her own precious, little life song for no one but herself.

Happiness doesn’t have to be perfect.

It just has to be.

And, we have to learn to let it be, as it is and as it comes.


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