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November 4, 2015

A Happiness Hypothesis.

Flickr/Caleb Roenigk

I haven’t written anything in almost a month.

Not because I have writer’s block.

Not because I’ve been too busy.

Not because I don’t want to.

Because I don’t know how to write when I’m happy.

My writing stems from life experiences. True, deep, emotionally and mentally trying life experiences too intense to contain within myself, so they spill over onto paper, overflow and transform into words—oftentimes without my conscience decision or consent.

Writing is my therapy. It is how I cope with my own existence—how I understand and relate to the world at large. I typically find myself in tears by the time I finish an article—emotionally drained from recounting trials and tribulations, popping open a bottle of wine and sitting alone on my couch to brood and ponder life.

I always feel more connected with the universe, after I’ve finally figured out how transpose emotions into syllables—when I can cast my thoughts to the world and hope that someone, somewhere or other will somehow feel and relate to my pain, and that maybe it will help them feel not so alone, or prevent them from tripping over the same roadblocks as myself.

But lately, I haven’t been writing anything at all, because, for the first time in a long time, I’ve been happy.

Not just “Oh look, I found 20 bucks in my pocket!” happy either.

Completely, absolutely, incandescently happy.

I’ve realized that it seems easier, somehow, to share our sorrows than our successes. No one wants to be sad. We seek happiness like the ever elusive holy grail, and there are plenty of articles out there which serve as roadmaps to find it—describing actionable measures we can take in order to achieve the ultimate goal of happiness.

In a world so heavily dependent on lists and schedules, it is comforting to know that there are just five steps between us and our contentment. We want to be working towards the goal of pure joy, and once all of the items on the checklist are complete, then we will know that we are happy.

But then what?

What happens once the list is complete—once we reach the happiness quotient?

Maybe that’s why we’re so afraid to feel it, and so many never do.

When we do find happiness, or feel happiness, there is a little bit of guilt that goes along with it. I suppose misery does love company, and so we find a strange kind of solace and solidarity in reading the words of others who have been through similar trials and tribulations.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve ever been this happy, not for more than a few hours at a time. I am a pessimist. My disposition is naturally gloomy, despondent, and I’ve always been a bit too serious for my own good. I have an ongoing deal with my students that I will bake them cookies if they can make me laugh—so rare is the phenomenon that I can always rest assured that the odds are in my favor. I’ve also been made aware of my perpetual “resting bitch face” by friends, foes and everyone in-between.

I believed my fate was sealed, and I contentedly accepted my role as cynical observer and recorder of my little world.

The universe, however, had quite different plans for me.

Things changed. My life changed suddenly, unexpectedly, and it wasn’t until I took a step back and examined myself that I realized I was happy. At the same time, I also realized that, in fact, very little had changed.

There are still issues at work, conflicts with people, way too much traffic, bills to pay, and I still am not really sure what to do with my life.

But I’m happy.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that this happiness was always there, inside me all along.

Maybe happiness is inside all of us, just waiting to be acknowledged.

Maybe happiness is just sadness plus a little extra love.

So I have a new checklist for you—a new list of action items to achieve happiness.

It’s quite simple…

1. Be happy.

That’s all. Because maybe happiness is a choice that we make every day—a conscious decision that only you have the power to determine. Beneath the trials and tribulations of every day life, it’s waiting inside of you—ready to be set free, to be acknowledged.

There is a time and a place and a purpose for all things. For sadness, anger, joy, frustration, triumph, guilt, love, sorrow, excitement, pain, longing, fear—everything that we feel—is important, is a part of us. Embrace them and experience them fully—but know that all the while, happiness awaits.

.

Relephant:

Happiness in Small Bites

 

Author: Gabriella Sweezey

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Caleb Roenigk

 

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