Thoughts From The Road: 5 Things I’ve Realized About Happiness

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It seems to me, the one thing everyone seems to desire is happiness. People uproot themselves and move to new places, get new jobs, try new things (both bad and good), and end relationships in search of happiness. The funny thing about happiness is it’s not really that illusive. Typically it’s right in front of our faces. 

It took me a very long time to understand this concept. When I finally realized happiness was a matter of recognition, my entire world changed.  See, as I’ve written about in the past, growing up was very tough for me. I lived in a lower class  household with an extremely abusive father and always felt like I needed to be adult-like in order to survive. During those rough times, the goal was to avoid my father’s fist and a lot of the times it was a matter of biting your lip and enduring whatever came at you. 

But then again….that’s life in a way. Just, as a child, it would have been more ideal to not have to worry about life quite so early.  Once I went to college, I thought moving and being around new people would make me much more happy. Don’t get me wrong, I was safer, in better spirits, and had great times but true happiness seemed to escape me. 

I also thought that I would find happiness in a relationship. Nevertheless, most my relationships in the past did not workout for one reason or another. Eventually, I arrived at point of maximum self-destruction.  Everything almost came tumbling down in a blaze of fire that I created through my own lack of confidence and perceived unhappiness.  

After a long process of healing which included facing my own demons, counseling, reconciliation with people I love, and introspection, I realized a few things….

1) It does not have to be relative

This gets a bit philosophical. Over time, I realized my own happiness does not need to be contingent on things outside of my mind. I can choose to be happy, no matter my circumstances, and I will be happy. Other people, other things, other events…none of those are responsible for my happiness. Only I am responsible for my happiness. When I expect outside influences to make me happy, I give that power away and create a situation of possible misery. 

2) People are People

Some people bring us great joy and then they can turn around and cause great misery. That’s the nature of being human. Relationships are not necessarily a source of happiness. In fact, there will be times when our relationships will cause us many other emotions which we’d rather not feel. The most important thing to do is to be happy and love yourself.  Through self-love you can find happiness and your relationships will amplify it. But you must love yourself first. As RuPaul says “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

3) Happiness exists on a spectrum

There are varying levels of happiness. Sometimes you will feel extreme highs and sometimes you’ll just feel content. Even in a miserable situation you might feel some level of happiness…to be alive…of feeling at all. You can’t expect happiness to feel the same all the time. It fluctuates and if you learn to understand this ebbing then you’ll learn to appreciate the happiness in front of you. 

4) Moving won’t help you be happy

That’s not say a move isn’t the answer. I’m simply pointing out the obvious here. If you are in a certain location and you feel unhappy, don’t blame it on your location. This goes back to “your the only person/thing responsible for your own happiness.” If you are unhappy, projecting your unhappiness on your location is simply a way you are not taking responsibility. I’ve seen people I know hate the city they are in because of any number of reasons. All they want to feel is happy so they move, thinking that will solve their problems. They move to another place and feel the initial euphoria. After a few months, they are back to hating their location and circumstances. So, be sure there is not something deeper that needs to be addressed before you uproot yourself. 

5) Happiness is a state of mind

Bet you knew I was heading in this direction . Basically, you need to make a decision. The decision to be made is one of self-awareness and mindful existence. Live deliberately and make purposeful choices. Every choice should be one that contributes to your happiness. But the most important thing you can to do is be the cause of happiness. I guarantee you will feel wonderful as you create more positive energy in the world. Then…if you need to, move, enter a meaningful relationship and LIVE.

J Harvey

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