This question has bothered me for a long time. Probably my whole adult/teen lifetime so far. Until today.
That is work I’m going to have to do myself, from any location and in any situation that I face. And it is really hard (adulting). Content, yes, and I am very grateful as well. I am so deeply thankful to be here on a tropical island with my 4 healthy kids and my amazing husband who loves me through all of this crap and does his best to support all of my crazy ideas. I would say I even FEEL happy majority of the time. But “feeling” is a word I don’t trust much. Feelings change.
Today the fog was thick on the backdrop of the hills of Lana’i. It was thick in my mind too and I couldn’t shake it. I am not happy here. Why? This place is amazing. Here I am on the beach in the sun every weekend. I am that girl splashing the water with my feet, but I don’t feel happy. I thought a location change would make me happier; And I was mistaken.
Happiness is Relative.
Was I happy at New Horizons that first summer? NO. The answer is no. Was I happy when I found out that I was NOT going home like I was promised? Nope. But I still laughed with the girls in my cabin (the ones I could speak to anyways) and had fun on costume nights and Christmas in July. But I didn’t feel happy with my situation.
I have always asked God subconsciously, “Will I ever be happy?” and “What’s wrong with me?” Why don’t I fart roses and rainbows like all these other sweet, smiling Jesus loving girls? Well, okay maybe not the “program” girls, but the private prep-school girls for sure. Can’t I even fake being enthused and gush over girly things and hopes and be excited about the future? Nope. But I will enjoy the funny things in life that no one else gets, and we laugh about until we pee our pants.
Happiness is Hidden in Good Memories.
Before I left for the program that summer, me and Natalie walked up to Rite-Aide to look at Teen-Bop magazines. Oh yeah. She loved her some J.T.T. and me, Devon Sawa all the way. The thing is, when we were almost there, we were walking through really thick brush right before the parking lot and something really funny happened. It has been TWENTY YEARS, so I have no idea what happened that was funny enough for me to full-on pee my pants, but it sure was.
Here I have dark fresh urine down the legs of my jeans and now so does she. She peed herself laughing just looking at me. So we wrapped our sweatshirts around our waist and hoped for the best. I’d like to say thank you to Zachery Ty Bryan https://deskgram.net/explore/tags/ZacheryTyBryan for sharing this meme below that I love very much. (This meme made me happy by the way, it does happen occasionally).
We got our candy bars and our Teen Bop and walked home in wet jeans. That memory is very clear now and the fog lifts for a second because suddenly, I remember that Natalie is dead. My thoughts go straight to questions just like “Will I be ever happy?”, that I’ll never get answered. Questions like, did she really get saved at VBS that summer she went with me to the church with cool castle set up? Why did she die from drugs and not me? What pushed her down that path after I left and never came back? Could I have pulled her out or would I have sunk even farther in and be dead too? Did leaving Ohio and never looking back save my life? I don’t know.
I can be happy that she was my friend and I knew her. Happy that, somehow I escaped all of the fatal consequences of the drugs I did. She would be happy for me. Maybe it was because I had the right people in my life at just the right time. Or God could have decided He wanted me to do something different and changed my heart and my mind. I don’t have to feel happy with my situation all the time. I’m alive.
Happiness Lives in Our Relationships
In my life, the whole thing, I have never felt like I “arrived” at where I “should” be with God. There is a loaded statement. A better way to word that is that I have always been insecure and ashamed of the lack of maturity and commitment I find in my relationship with God compared to where I would like it. Sometimes I think we can keep ourselves feeling unhappy because of fear, insecurity, or just plain distraction. Would I feel and be happier if I put more time and effort into getting closer to God and improving my relationship with Him? I feel fairly certain I would.
The answer to the question “Will I ever be happy”, is, yes. Even if I don’t feel like it today, on Lana’i, in the rain. I will always be happy because I can choose it. By summoning in a second the best of memories, some from the worst of times. I even have good memories from things that I would never repeat doing if given the choice to go back again. By speaking to God constantly and telling Him no one this earth has ever been more thankful or happy with 5 people in the history of mankind. The five people sleeping in this house right now make me happy. Happy, that I overcame all of this burden and shame to be able to enjoy them and not be completely consumed in myself. I’m happy I didn’t get what I deserved.
So, How Can You Be Happy?
Stop Seeking Happiness and Just Enjoy Your Life.
Maybe I keep asking God why I can’t be happy and God’s answer is “Because my plan wasn’t for you to be a “happy person”. My plan was for you to go through a bunch of hard stuff so you would get to see things clearly and come out better from all of it”. I wonder if God is not much concerned with my happiness, and so maybe I really shouldn’t be either.
If happy is just a fleeting feeling then who cares, and if its a state of mind, then I already am. Happiness is not an elusive feeling I’m going to be chasing around trying to catch my whole life. I will embrace sadness, anger, and regret when I feel it, and then I will let it pass over me like the fog above these trees. I close my eyes in the rain, smelling the tropical flowers and feeling the wind on my face – being perfectly peaceful in this moment, and knowing that I am happy. Wanting for nothing.
What do you need to do do to be happy?
Here Are Ten Things You Can Try Today:
- Just choose it. Happiness is just a choice. Make the decision and put up reminders on post-its, pictures, note cards to smile, be thankful, pray gratitude, ask for peace, with scripture to memorize, or to call a friend or family member. Make a personal goal that can tangibly show an improvement in your attitude or situation.
- This article says to “Lower Your Expectations” and “Change Your Perspective”. I love that because, why did I really expect that life would be happy after all that crap that already happened? That is a not reality for many people. Viewing my situation differently can help me be more appreciate and feel happier even when I’m having a bad day.
- Do something for someone else who is down. Smile at people. Hey, fake it ’till you make it. I love that Forbes says in this article below to “Value People; Use Things”. This is easy to get turned around. We need to pay attention. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jodiecook/2018/11/29/how-to-be-happy-nearly-all-the-time/#b5306924eb29
- Ask for forgiveness, from God, for yourself, or for others. Ask God to take the heavy weight of sadness and show you who you are to Him. When I think of how God sees me after everything I’ve done, it makes me smile. It makes me happy.
- Hug your kid if you can. Relax and just enjoy their company. Watch kids play pretend and try not to smile.
- GET OVER IT. Yes. We need to get over it. All of it. The Past. The hurts. All. the. way. over.it. Get some counseling or mentor with a positive, supportive, friend if you need help with this. It is hard to do all alone.
- I actually really like this Healthline article, it talks about your habits. Me and Jed talk a lot about our habits these days. Your habits are probably making you miserable. I know mine are. Change your habits and be happier. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-be-happy#overview
- Read an uplifting book. Or read the Bible and reaffirm how much God still loves you and still wants to spend time and be with your miserable self, even when you don’t.
- Get a gratitude journal and write in it every day. Focus on the positive. I love Erin Condrin’s because it comes with pretty stickers. Guess what, stickers make me HAPPY, and my girls too. It’s $14 find it here: https://www.erincondren.com/petiteplanner-gratitude-journal-edition-1?gclid=Cj0KCQjwt_nmBRD0ARIsAJYs6o3ko1UIpMGrq641UV7UL2yfSCF-baIpUQV8YTVXUSthjMOj29B24QkaAm8-EALw_wcB
- Lift your eyes from your navel. The sun does not revolve around it (lol, I know). Psychology Today says stop being self-involved and engrossing ourselves in our phones and social media, comparing our life to others and feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s making us feel even more sad.
What do you think?