You know them. If you’re like me, you silently envy them. They do it so naturally and sometimes it’s as if it is all they know. It oozes out of them and you can even breathe in the scent of it when you get close enough. The energy radiates off of them. It’s contagious, free and uninhibited. It’s weightless and for some, effortless.
When I see them, I want to crawl into their back pocket and go where they go. I want to be as close to them as possible in hopes that maybe there is a secret initiation I can partake in. I have them in my life too and turns out there is no exact recipe to attain it.
I’m one of the “others.” You know? Someone who admits they’re not always happy.
One might think that being 36 would provide an intellectual explanation as to why happiness isn’t the first emotion I identify with. When I obtained my Masters in Clinical Social Work, I thought my three year investment into human connection would provide the solution. When I obtained my certification in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, I thought the answer would find me there too. Each week as I am teaching subjects in human services and counseling, I wonder if the answer will find me, but it doesn’t. I look for it in accomplishments. I look for it in my children. I look for it in faith. I look for it in books, CD’s and even exercise. If only it looked for me, maybe we would meet half-way and find one another? I can assure you of one thing. There are times when I am so darn exhausted by the chase.
The only answer I have come to is that happiness can’t be simplified into being a choice. It’s not a predestined disposition either. It’s not about differentiating between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” For millions of people, happiness is a conscious state of being we have to work really hard at. Not because we don’t have things to be happy about. Not because we don’t want to be happy either. Grief, wellness, sickness, trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, rejection and so many other weights in life don’t take daily inventory on all of the reasons you can intellectualize why you should feel happy. The truth is, none of those reasons care.
I used to be afraid to talk about being unhappy. I was hanging by ropes of fear that people would judge. I was afraid that people would think I wasn’t grateful or aware of my blessings. I was worried people would think I only saw life as “half full.” I was scared that people would think I was unhappy all of the time or drowning in a state of what I know we all experience. What I am realizing is that it’s okay to admit when we’re chasing happiness. Life isn’t perfect and therefore, we can’t proclaim to be happy all of the time. Otherwise, what would millions of people expect of themselves if we did?
It would be another judgment and expectation we would place on ourselves and the people around us. It would shame the human experience and exile us from connecting when life is anything but a predictable state of happiness all of the time.
There are days I call out to it. I scream for it and I even cry for it. There are moments when I feel like I’m on the tail-end of chasing after what seems to want to leave me behind. When I look at people who appear “happy,” I still observe them. There are days I just want to soak into their skin and other days I question if they’re just in hiding. Sometimes I find myself chasing happiness. There are moments when I am able to catch up with it and other times when it passes me by. I’m learning to accept both in my life and knowing each has its place and purpose.
Happiness may appear lighter, softer and more inviting. But what if happiness requires us to know the other side? Maybe in order to truly be “happy,” we have to know what it’s like to be unhappy? We have to appreciate the chase to immerse ourselves in the catch? I am continually chasing happy and while I don’t always feel it’s chasing me, I am questioning if it’s supposed to?
In Love & Truth,