In many ways, it is extremely challenging for an individual to narrow down on what makes them truly happy. I am not referring to what makes you smile from time to time. By this I mean happiness one feels when nothing outside of themselves is a catalyst for the emotion. It can be a thought, a scent, a sound, a dream that makes your heart sputter, your soul dance and your inner being smile. We have moments of happiness, sure, but to be able to narrow down to what sincerely makes an individual divinely happy to the core can be one of the hardest things for someone to realize.
We all have ideals of what happiness is, or where we believe we find happiness. When you first meet someone you truly connect with, that first moment you lay eyes on someone who makes your heart skip a beat, or the moment that you indulge in one of your favorite treats, quietly, in a room by yourself for a moment of spiritual balance and mental escape. All of which provide a positive emotion at that immediate time which we call “happiness”. However, once you take one of those factors away, do you still feel that emotion?
In many ways, immediate gratification and happiness is quickly obtained, and lost. So in reality, these things are not a true definition of happiness, are they? They are moments of an emotional spike which makes us feel happy, but the happiness I am referring to here, is deep down, soul gratifying, raw happiness. And this form of happiness rarely, if ever, comes from anything or anyone outside of yourself. So what makes you happy? What defines your raw happiness?
Throughout my 40 years of life, I have mistaken happiness at many times. I was always looking outside of myself and onto others for approval and gratification. It was easy to fall into this habit, putting my self-worth into another’s hands. If happiness is due to something outside of myself, I do not have to take blame for any of my short comings. I do not have to look at myself, truly look at myself, and acknowledge my failures (or lessons as I now like to call them). If something outside of me, or my control, brings me happiness, and then takes it away, it is not my fault. The world, the ex-husband, the long lost best friend, they all brought me “happiness” at one point in my life, and they were all to blame when that was stripped away. But this mentality is only a diversion from the reality of the situation.
In actuality, with all of my failures, or illusions of happiness, I was to blame for what was lacking in my life. Until one day when I looked at my growing children in front of me, my aged reflection staring back at me, and the life I always yearned for taunting me, that I realized I had all the happiness I needed, in front of me, or manifesting within me. There was that subtle voice that faintly spoke to me at different times throughout my life, reminding me that there was something much more for me to do, for me to strive for, that would, and always has, brought me happiness. And it took almost 40 years for me to listen.
Let’s take a quick step back to when I first was struck by this feeling. When I was 25, and gave birth to my first true love, I was completely lost, scared, confused and yet filled with love, and happiness, that I never expected. My life no longer mattered if it was not with this little person. From the moment I held him, 3 hours after he was torn from my body, I could not imagine how life existed, as recently as a few hours prior, when he was still only an anticipation. True happiness was then first introduced to my soul. A greater purpose in life was staring back at me and my heart could not ignore it. His existence was proof to me that life was much more meaningful then the standards I so recently held my own to. Each moment to follow that first hello blurred the life I once knew, replacing it with a life, and mission, I once only imagined.
This beautiful child was a life purpose that extended way beyond myself, and nothing was going to be the same. But that clarity was quickly muddled with the stress of real life sleepless nights, first time insecurities, marital tensions and a loss in personal identity. I quickly found myself looking for happiness, once again, within other’s acceptance, judgement and statements of who I was, but this time, as a mom. I was a mom, but also a young woman who was barely starting out her life, let alone the life of a new born child. Happiness was short lived and mostly only truly existed when it was just me and my little man.
It was during these “mommy and me” dates that I was reminded of the burning inside of me for a better life, a more meaningfully life filled with raw happiness, THIS happiness. I needed to obtain this life, but how? And was I the only one stuck in this purgatory of self-doubt, insecurity and fleeting sense of who I am?
I quickly realized that I needed to find others like me to talk to, to relate to. Others to prove to me that I was not alone on this journey. Every time I looked into the eyes of my child, filled with unconditional love, trust and acceptance, these embers, which sparked my drive to help others, began burning. That self-realization of who I am, what I need, and how I see myself is what made me realize what true happiness meant to me. It was each moment I was able to see this reflection of myself, that awoke my spirit every time. It is still this reflection that I see, every day with all of my boys, which helps keep me on this track, and the fuels the mission in my heart. As quickly as this focus may have been lost within the daily routine of my life, with each son that was born onto me, I was reminded.
Still, 40 years into my life after a dissolved marriage, a broken engagement, and a realization that many things in my life still need to improve, I continue to work on sustaining my form of true happiness. And with each step I learn more and more about what is true happiness to me. I learned that my happiness lies within myself, and not from what others provide to me.
The love of my children makes me happy, truly, truly happy. Some may argue that this is an outside factor which is bringing on my happiness, however, I need to disagree. Yes, they are people, outside of myself, that sparks a feeling of happiness within. But, where the true happiness comes from, that comes from the realization that I love THEM so much, outside of anything I could have imagined. That a piece of me is extended outside of myself, growing, developing and advancing in every aspect of life. Surpassing anything, I could have accomplished for myself when I was their age. It is the fact that God loved me so much, he brought these children into my life, and that I love God so much, that I am beyond grateful that they are mine.
I have also learned that when I help others, I am happy. The act of helping someone, actually, just the thought of helping someone, brings me to a spiritual level I have never experienced before. It isn’t their gratification that makes me feel good, it is the knowledge of knowing I have something more in me to give, that someone else may need. It is the thought that my existence, on some level, is a catalyst that sparks happiness in someone else. It is the hope that my actions potentially motivate someone to help another. In some ways, it is very selfish. I am happy to know I bring happiness.
Lastly, I have discovered that when I am the “better person” I feel an incredible amount of happiness. At one point in my life, I may have acted as the “better person” in order to spite someone else. The intention was not pure and the act was fake, but I wanted the acknowledgement of being… well…. BETTER. It has been through the occurrences in my life the last couple of years, when I truly placed my faith in the hands of God, that I was able to lift the tainted veil and do things because they were right to do… and truly believe in them.
So how did I get here?
I am not completely there yet. It is still a daily struggle to keep a hold of my happiness. Life can be so hectic at times, and it is so easy to be pulled into the negatives of the world. Not many people want to find their true happiness, and many of them will try to stop you from finding yours. They do not always do it intentionally, but they do it nonetheless. So to remain focused and happy can occasionally be a struggle. Some days are easier than others.
I have found that guided meditations are a great help. Each night, when I am about to fall asleep, I play a guided meditation that will target my goal(s). As my body melts into my bed, and relaxes, I allow myself to drift into the thoughts of my guide. Many times I fall asleep, but eventually I start to clear the fog of everyday life and my soul reconnects with the happiness I know exists. From there I am able to create a plan to walk the path I was meant to walk in this life. We so easily get derailed and walk a path we think we are supposed, and not the one we are really meant to. Every day I have to redirect myself onto this destined path.
Keeping a journal of my true vision in life is also key. Nothing brings more happiness than recognizing my vision and actually living it every day. But again, many of the things we think we are supposed to do interfere with what we really want to do with our lives. We then develop these deep seeded habits that actually prevent ourselves from seeing our destiny’s. We need to change those habits and by writing down our dreams, we can stay focused on each step that will take us to the end result. Half of the process for obtaining the things we want in life is teaching our brains to believe you already have them. And maybe we do to some extent. Write it down, repeat it to yourself, live it and believe it every day.
Most importantly, I purposefully acknowledge my blessings, no matter how hard it is to see them sometimes. There are situations that could always be worse. And even though it is hard to be grateful for what we have when what we want is at an arm’s length away, but it is still necessary in order to retain true happiness. We are all blessed with this life and it is up to us to do what we were meant to do with it. Work every day to see yourself for who you are and be proud of that person. Accepting your true self is a level of happiness that only the few are blessed to experience.
I am nowhere near the completion of my journey or master of this transformation. Many years of damage have clouded my mirror, but each day I clean away a layer and I focus on the reflection in front of me, until a clear image of myself is smiling back.