If you ask me what is missing most in my life, often times I will respond “happiness.” When I’m asked what I want most out of life, the typical response to that is “to be happy.”
Happiness. It’s such an attainable goal; one that we have the power to reach every day. But, we’re often so focused on capturing it, chasing it, and keeping it, that we often forget that the simple concept of happiness only leaves us, if we allow it.
That is what my life has been like lately. A quest to find “happy.” A long, seemingly endless search to find contentment again. So, I began to chase the concept of happiness, mistakenly thinking that it would actually work. Forgetting that happiness can’t be pursued.
My thinking started going in all sorts of directions. “If I buy this book on how to be happy, maybe I’ll be happy.” “If I take a vacation to Disney World, maybe then I’ll find my happy place.” “If I land my dream job, then I know I’ll be happy. If I write this widely successful article, then I’ll be happy.”
Looking around, it appeared as though everyone had some form of happiness in their lives, and that was great, but what about me? Was I doing something wrong? Did life forget to tell me something? Nope.
Along this emotional journey toward happiness, I learned tons of lessons. First, happiness is a choice. It’s a state of mind. Every day we are given the opportunity to radiate positivity and happiness. It’s all in what we choose.
Secondly, and most importantly, I learned that happiness comes when you stop trying to chase it. Ultimately, happiness comes to you when you stop looking, stop thinking about it, and stop complicating it. Happiness can also be found in the most unexpected places, with the most unexpected people.
I went for a nice 2 mile walk with my mom today. It was so refreshing, so relaxing. The sun beating on our backs, the wind blowing through our hair, the birds singing, the smell of freshly cut grass along the way. Everything was perfect.
While we were walking, laughing, talking, and simply enjoying nature, I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness. In all of my crazy pursuit to “find” happiness, I realized that happiness never left me like I thought. It’s been within me all along.
Happiness is in the times when I hug someone I love.
It’s when the sun shines its glorious rays of warmth on my face.
It’s when I’m gazing at the stars after a night ride of just singing and venting with my mom.
It’s when I’m having a heart to heart with my dad.
Or when my dog is simply laying on my chest.
It’s the energy from a concert that I attended.
It’s the inspiration from my favorite book.
It’s the unforgettable times shared with my grandparents.
It’s late night writing, even when I have to be up in two hours.
It’s coloring with my seven-year old cousin, and soon to be five-year old godson.
It’s seeing (or chatting with) people who I care about; especially when I haven’t seen them in a while.
It’s those times when I sit in silence and feel the love of God all around me. Or when I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. It’s when my heart is so filled with love that I think it’s going to burst. It’s realizing that there’s always, always someone out there who loves me as I am.
It’s recognizing all of the beauty around me. The sight of a rainbow after a storm. The shadings of orange, red, and yellow leaves in autumn. The magic of the fresh fallen snow on Christmas morning. Or sharing inside jokes with my co-workers. And SO much more. And it took a simple walk to shed light on that fact.
Because the truth is: happiness cannot be bought, worn, traveled to, or chased. Happiness is not one gigantic thing, it’s a million little things. A million moments that we gather up from every day and collect in our hearts, souls, and memories. A million smiles.
Sure, happiness is different for everyone. But, this is what it means to me. So, by being still and quiet, (and filled with an enormous amount of gratitude!) I’ve stopped chasing happiness and instead, let it land upon my shoulder like a butterfly. And, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Prayer: God, I know that I may lose sight of happiness every once in a while. I know I may get caught up in the every day stresses and anxieties of life. When I feel those weak moments coming on, help me to fight them and remember the blessings that you have so generously bestowed on me. Help me to realize that the life You have given me is beautiful, and forgive me for the times I don’t love it enough.