Am I Happy?
“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets looking to find you.”
Am I Happy?
I love the above quote. It always makes me smile. And it reminds me that I can feel happiness in my heart if I will only allow it to find me.
Happiness is elusive. It may be that we have happiness only in moments. That to chase after happiness is setting us up to feel let down and hurt, because it won’t be there all the time. When we don’t feel happy, somehow we may feel we have failed someone… or ourselves. Many of the people who come to see me feel they are depressed and perhaps have even been given a diagnosis of depression. If they have been given this diagnosis, or feel they are depressed, they feel there is no room for happiness.
I want to make a distinction between feeling sad and depression. Sadness is a normal emotion and an appropriate response to any sort of loss. Feeling sad, lost, empty, maybe even having difficulty sleeping, because someone or something we deeply value is gone, is not depression. It is an appropriate response to a significant loss. To label someone as depressed or to be on medication for this sort of feeling will not prevent these feelings. And sometimes, medication can get in the way of our actually feeling the feeling we need to feel to work through the loss. I certainly believe there are conditions and circumstances where medication for depression is necessary. I am just making a distinction between being sad and a true diagnosis of depression. We grieve because it mattered. To not allow ourselves our grief takes away our opportunity to place value on that which truly matters to us. To grieve is a natural process and a natural part of loss. The grieving can allow us to have closure.
Maybe our desperate search for happiness began with the Constitution of the United States, which states the fundamental rights of man as being, “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. What Jefferson was referring to in his statement was that we work for the good of the whole. It seems we may have lost sight of what the pursuit of happiness could bring to us as a whole if pursuit of happiness were our focus, instead of the fear, anger and mistrust that seems so prevalent in our culture today.
The pursuit of happiness has become a billion dollar industry in our country. There are studies at places like Stanford University and UCLA, that show that what we want it to be distracted. We have all the technology available to us, along with workshops, retreats, books, what ever else we might use to distract ourselves, yet happiness eludes us. Our current possibilities and technologies have opened us up to the world. Yet it certainly begs the question, “With all we have available to us, why aren’t we happy?” And if all the possibilities, the distractions don’t make us happy, what could possibly fill that longing deep inside? True happiness is a barometer of our level of awareness, not our level of distraction. Just looking at the increase in the number of people on medication for depression speaks to a society of people who are not happy.
Many people live their lives in fear. Fear is a natural response to danger. Fear can also be a way of life. Did you know the body cannot tell the difference between what is imagined and what is real? So, if we imagine fearful circumstances, that is what we react to. In the same way, if we imagine safety, goodness, joy, strength, we create those feeling as well. Many live from fear of what could happen in the future. Fear is an acronym for: “Future Events Appearing Real”. If we stay in the future, life can always look fearful. Yet, if we choose to stay in the present moment, we can ask ourselves helpful questions about a situation or circumstances happening in our lives such as, “Is it real?; Is it true? ; Is there anything I can do right now to change, help or heal it?; Is this about me?” Asking these simple questions can keep us in present moment, which helps us feel pro-active in our life. And whenever we can feel proactive in our life, we have a much more likely chance to feel happy.
So often we spend our time running here and there, looking for happiness; waiting for happiness that has lived inside us all along. There is a saying that being happy is a choice. We can choose to live from fear or we can choose to live from seeing life filled with anticipation of possibility.
If happiness is truly running through the streets just looking to find you, stop now and allow it to find you. Today could be the day you allow yourself to be happy. To be present in your life and realize that so much of life is what we make it. It has to do with allowing ourselves to feel happy. Life will bring us what it will. It is what it is. How we respond to the circumstances of our lives is what determines whether happiness will find us or not. That we can control. Choose happiness; choose being present to your life.
Blessings to you,