What is happiness? Is it a feeling, a state of being, a chemical release of dopamine in the brain? Meeting a lot of new people recently from jumping back into the dating pool, I have to have some kind of idea of who I am, what I want, what I like, what I don’t like. Just as much as I’m getting an idea of who they are, I’m also getting a sense of who I am and what makes me happy. It’s exciting, but at the same time exhausting. This time around it’s a little different. I don’t know if maybe I’ve been hurt too much, but I’m more emotionally detached. A good thing about that, is that I’m not lost behind feelings and can see things from a clearer perspective.
We all have different ideas of happiness, just as we have different ideas of love. The definition and meaning is just as individual to us as our DNA. We may have similar patterns, options, likes, beliefs, etc.. as our neighbor, but we are individually minded and one person’s happiness is not the same as another’s.
So, I can’t define happiness on the whole, not something that will encapsulate every one of us. I can only define what happiness means to me. Well, I can try, anyway. Happiness for me is about as elusive as love. I’m not even sure I could recognize it. Most often I don’t know it occurs until I’m in a moment of despair and think on a better time, to realize I had been happy. Well, here goes.
Simple moments make me happy. Grand gestures make me feel uncomfortable and puts me on guard and has me questioning motives. I don’t want the world. I can’t think of anything in this world that I want that I couldn’t get for myself or in receiving would or could make me happy. Things don’t make me happy. I’ve had things, I’ve lost things, I’ve left things… and none of them ever made me happy. Sure, some of them brought on a moment of happiness, but they’re just things. Usually it wasn’t the thing itself, but the circumstances around those things that stoked the happiness into flame. All the things I can think that would make me happy are intangible.
A kiss, a whispered secret, a song, a touch, holding hands, making love, sharing dreams, tangled legs, laughter, delicious food, being in nature, pondering the universe, chasing waterfalls, reading a great adventure, sharing something I wrote, having someone share their heart, their gift, their dreams with me, staring into a set of beautiful eyes. Not one of those moments involve what this world seems to crave – things, money, sex, fame, or success.
There are a few moments that I can close my eyes that I know will stay with me forever, that I consider the happiest moments of my life:
- My son, at two, putting his little hands on the sides of my face and looking right at me and saying, “I love you, Mama, and nobody else.”
- Standing on the curb at a busy airport, so nervous I wanted throw up, my hands shaking, my heart pounding, my legs weak, and meeting a pair of hazel eyes and a beautiful smile.
- Standing next to a car, being held tightly, as a strong hand lightly ran their fingers over my hair.
- Falling asleep with my head on a warm chest while watching t.v, listening to a strong, steady heartbeat, feeling completely safe for one of the few times in my life.
- Staying up all night, staring at the stars, talking on the phone about dreams.
- Sitting in a little restaurant, feeling overwhelmed, lost, and scared, to look up and see love smiling down at me in an Army uniform. I think I’ve been looking for that particular gaze ever since, fearing I will only see it once in my lifetime.
- Lying in bed with my three kids in the early morning hours before school, telling stories. I can still feel them sometimes. And in that place between sleep and awake, I can still hear them running and laughing down the halls.
So, what is happiness? Love. All the moments that I’ve been happy in my life involve moments of love. Either me loving, or being loved. The things that make me happy lately are playing video games with my son, sharing favorite songs with a friend, Skyping with my best friend, playing my guitar, hiking, writing on my novel, exercise, and cooking.
I cling tightly to my memories. They’re what gets me through the day. I have to take my days one at time. Facing uncertainty, knowing I could die tomorrow, makes me appreciate those moments even more. Going months without even the briefest of human touch, or even an emotional connection, makes it really hard not to slip into depression, but I refuse. Even if the world never loves me back, I won’t give up. Love for myself will just have to be enough, because only in love will I find my happiness.
Till next time,