I think about this a lot. So much of our lives are spent trying to find ‘happiness’, when really; its right there. It’s in the cup of tea your husband makes you when you get in from work; it’s in the sound of your child’s laugh; it’s coming home to see your wife after spending the whole day waiting for that moment.
I think about this when I’m struggling: when Ben is around things can sometimes be clouded and I can forget how important the small, day-to-day things are that all add up to my overall happiness. Ben can sometimes make me feel like I’m not worthy; despite me knowing I am. Ben can sometimes make me feel like everyone else is happy, except me; despite me knowing this isn’t true. Ben can sometimes make me feel like there’s no future; despite me knowing there is an amazing one to come.
I think about this when I’m at work: we ask the children every morning how they are feeling, and why. I think about their responses for happy: “because my mummy is picking me up today”; “because my mummy is so proud of me”; “because *insert name* is my best friend”. They are so simple. Children see happiness for what it really is.
Tonight I asked some of my close friends and family what their idea of happiness was. I got a wide range of responses and it was interesting to hear the differing perspectives on happiness. To some people it is in the things they buy: candles, cars or clothes. To some it is in the people in their life: spouse, children, or friends. To others it is in the things they do for themselves: fresh sheets, good food or a getting a good sleep. And to most it is a mixture of all three.
Some of the people I asked found the question a difficult one to answer: why is this? Maybe they couldn’t choose just one example. Or maybe, we just overthink a question like this. When in reality, we should just think like children. As adults we always try to over-complicate things or make everything a competition, when we’re all after the same thing. A happy life. And does it really matter how we achieve that? Does it matter that one persons idea of happiness isn’t the same as yours?
One of my friends in particular really gave me an in-depth insight into their perspective of happiness and it’s really opened my own eyes as to what my happiness is. And how there are so many forms of happiness that don’t always come from tangible things. He spoke of fulfillment, comfort and acceptance. These three things you can’t buy, touch or see. But they are all happiness in some way.
Think about when you have achieved something. You’ve passed an exam you spent endless nights studying for. You’ve learnt the song you’ve spent hours practicing on your guitar. You’ve beaten your personal best in the gym that you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into. Or maybe, if you’re anything like me: you’ve gone to a football game that Ben spent hours convincing yourself you can’t face. You’ve eaten a meal in front of people you don’t know that Ben spent hours convincing you will harm you. Achievements are all subjective and unique. Not one better than the other; all creating that feeling inside we call pride.
Think about the things that bring you comfort. For me, it is people. First and foremost when I am feeling low; anxious or overwhelmed, the thing that brings me reassurance and faith is having someone there. Someone I trust to keep me afloat at times when I desperately need the extra help. From a lot of my friends responses to my original question, I can see that they are similar to me in what brings them comfort. Those who have children all mentioned their children’s laughter as something that brings them happiness. And despite me not having my own children yet, I completely get this as even just working with children brings me so much joy.
Think about acceptance. No judgement; no ignorance; no stigma. This isn’t always just from others, its from yourself too. We can all be our own biggest critic. I know I definitely can be, although it is something I am working hard to change. My friend spoke of his happiness becoming more apparent when he finally accepted himself and his illness. He had spent so many years fighting against himself that he didn’t give himself the opportunity to actually live. Once he had accepted that this was him and despite his struggles, he was also always improving, he saw the benefits that this new attitude brought to his life.
My thoughts on happiness can be bittersweet. When I am in a moment that is making me feel really happy, it will also be tinged with a bit of sadness. Not deep sadness, but a reminder that this moment won’t last. And as happy as its making me, its because of that that I will miss it so much. When I’m at work and a child makes me laugh or does something comical, it makes me happy whilst thinking “I’m really going to miss you when you go to school”. When I’m with someone I love and they’re filling me with happiness just with their presence whilst thinking that “one day, I may not have you around anymore”. And I kick myself every time I think like this. It is such a negative way to view this, however, that doesn’t mean I’m not making the most of these moments. It is actually the reason why I am. Its the reason why I do everything in my power to live with no regrets, and to make the most of things, especially with people. I know what its like to lose people closest to me and people I love unconditionally and with every part of my heart. Not always separated through death, but just life too.
So my happiness is about cherishing those times, be in the moment, and despite fleeting thoughts of sadness; also remembering how lucky I am to get the moment at all.