I’ve been seeing subjects like ‘how to be happy’ & ‘finding happiness’ bandied about quite a bit lately. And many conversations with friends & family have centred on achieving personal happiness while trying to mesh with family & societal definitions of happiness.
But the definition of happy can be as unique as there are humans on this earth. It is as individualistic as our DNA — what activities we enjoy, where we like to live, what job we like to do, who we love, what children we have, how we treat people, animals, nature . . .
At 54½ years old, I can say that I am happy. I haven’t always been able to say that. There have been years of pain as an ugly duckling, angst as a moody teenager, strife of a bad marriage, fear as a single mother, agony of working for money rather than love of job, heartache from the loss of someone dear, frustration of being misunderstood, loneliness of being abandoned, self-hate of hurting a loved one, defeat of abuse, . . . need I go on?
Of course there have been times of great joy — feelings of awe at the beauty of God’s world, unconditional love for my sons, delight in a dog’s play, achievement of good work, love from other humans, a wonderful connection with animals & nature. But that doesn’t mean I felt ‘happy’ with my life as it was holistically.
I lived too many years trying to make others happy — to keep the peace. I often shunted my gut feelings based on the rules of unknowledgeable family, society, or church. Of course, this didn’t make me happy.
I had to learn how to listen to myself — how to trust my feelings. I had to examine my beliefs — determine the validity of their source. I had to admit failure when I chose the wrong path. I had to be willing to change — & sometimes that change cut to my core. And sometimes I angered other people when I fought for my beliefs & would not bend to theirs.
I continued to search &
change until . . .
Now — I am happy with my life. No, I’m not rich materially & still have many goals in life. No, you may not be happy with my life.
But, I am happy making stained glass projects, I am happy collaborating with a friend exploring wood framing, I am happy with my gentle dog & cat, I am happy visiting my children, grandchildren, & friends, I am happy reading, I am happy writing & drawing my thoughts down, I am happy with my emotional health, I am happy on the Isle & away from the city, I am happy designing & playing with colour [hmm, can you tell?], I am happy gardening — planting beauty in flowers & food in vegetables — I am happy doing what I love.
They say you can’t love someone until you love yourself. Well, you can’t love yourself until you’re happy with your life — happy doing what you love.