Happiness. That nine-letter word holds a lot of weight, doesn't it? For some, it holds expectation, both positive and negative. For some, it holds false realities, both painfully honest, and painfully deceitful. For some, it's a destination that can feel like it's waiting at the end of a rainbow. And for others, it's a process that can feel so miserable and all-consuming in the moment, but be achingly beautiful in retrospect.
While happiness seems to be what most people want and expect out of life, why are so many lacking it? Is happiness a tangible "thing" that's wandering the streets and expected to show up and ring your doorbell? Well, if you think so, I'd like to ask how that's working for you? Happiness isn't as easily obtainable as one might think; it's actually quite the opposite. Happiness. Who said it should be easy? I've heard that love should be easy too, but that's a whole other conversation, and article. Please, listen to me with a compassionate ear and an open heart when I tell you that happiness is in no way, shape, or form, easy to attain when you lack it. The road to happiness is full of excruciating choices and life-altering decisions. It's full of backlash, harsh critics, thick judgments, and HARD-ASS WORK. Happiness. So what does it take? It takes passion - and the courage to work hard and see your passion through. That seven-letter word might only show up for you in articles like this, or it may be a daily devotion, but passion is the key to happiness. Passion is a fulfillment of your desire, whatever that may be. It can feel like a "need" that you feel incomplete without.
Passion can be your children, your partner, your career, a hobby, or anything else in this world. You can lie to yourself every second of the day and say you're happy without passion, but it's just that, a lie. If you haven't one ounce of passion for anything, you're not only unhappy, but you're also missing out on life. Happiness. Where do you find it? As cliché as it sounds, happiness - as well as meaning and passion - are within you. Happiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy that is only attained by you. Not one material thing can "make" you happy. Not one other person is "responsible" for your happiness. And if you buy into that, you're buying into a false reality.
To seek happiness is one of the most profound life journeys we humans take on. And yet, as much importance as we give it, we seldom take responsibility for it. We act as if someone other than ourselves controls whether or not we are happy or living our passion, and we wait for it to be delivered to us on that silver platter we're always talking about. You can't wait for happiness; happiness waits for you. It waits, and waits, never budging.
Happiness. Where do you start? To find what is already within you, ask yourself the hard questions. Questions that make you uneasy and uncomfortable, such as, "What am I most fearful of? What gets me angry? What gets me excited? What do I avoid? What do I seek out? What makes me sad? What are my wildest dreams?"
Most likely, as you begin to answer these questions, you will see a common thread. You'll find that one common denominator or relationship among most of your answers that continues to overlap and makes its way back to affecting you in one way or another. Once you pick through the muck of the self-deprecating judgment of your answers to the hard questions, your eyes will open up a little wider, and some realizations will shine through. You'll begin to see where you belong, what you're passionate about, and what you need to feel fulfilled and happy.
Happiness. How do you achieve it? Once you've answered the hard questions, it's simple: you refuse to settle. You become bold and brave and fight for everything that gets your heart pumping. You dive headfirst into your passions. You take risks!
For me, happiness is my family, my journey as a therapist, and my writing. It took me a long time from the moment I began seeking my happiness to realize what I was passionate about. It was always in me, but I wasn't aware enough or ready to take responsibility for that daunting task just yet. It took me learning some hard life lessons and making mistake after mistake to be ready to seek out the truth.
Happiness. What's stopping you? There is a four-letter word called fear, and it tends to be a paralyzing agent that can stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. The unknown and the unexpected are as scary as anything;, yes, that's true. There is no comfortable place in the unknown when you're fighting for your passion, but what most don't know is that fear is the only obstacle in between you and your happiness. That's it. And you can conquer fear.
Understandably, you are terrified to fail, and undeniably tortured by the thought of it. But it's ok to feel scared. It's ok to feel uncomfortable. It's ok to feel doubt. And it's ok to fail. Let me say that one more time. It's ok to fail. So just start.
Happiness. What does it look like? You tell me. Happiness is your passion being fulfilled. Whatever that means, whatever that entails, and whatever that looks like is up to you.
You see, happiness is absolutely attainable; it just takes a little effort. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort. Happiness is what you make it. It's a process and a state of being.
If you've yet to begin the process, I hope this inspires you to take one step toward finding your happiness, whether that step is big or small. If you're in the trenches on your journey, and it's looking ugly and messy, keep going because you're on the right track. And if you're there, reach out and inspire others to seek their happiness. Tell your story -- because no two stories are alike. Happiness is the state of being that gives you the most fulfillment.
I chose happiness. I fought for it, risked everything, cried, beat myself up, and doubted myself. I failed, re-routed my plans time and time again, felt crazy, and finally for the first time, I felt alive. I began living, passionately. Happiness didn't find me. I found happiness.
Happiness lives in you, and now, I challenge you to go find it.