There are so many posts, memes, comments, and hopes about happiness. But what is the real-life definition of happiness?
Is it a state of being or a momentary feeling that comes and goes like a passing shower?
Given my own current state of being, I posed that exact question to myself recently: Am I happy?
The response most everyone wants to read is “yes.” What’s your secret!?
Knowing full well that I’m about to disappoint, the answer is “no,” and I came to this realization while on the treadmill walking at an 8 percent incline with visions of my body displayed in a casket with no one at the wake. It was a grueling and raw moment.
The woman I once was laughed at a 15 percent incline, boasted her self-discipline when it came to non-nutritious foods, and had the spirit of a true warrior. But it seems that she has gone on holiday and I’m begging for her return. There are moments when she visits, but she all too quickly fades into the background like a distant dream.
God knows I need her back.
During this epiphany, I was faced with the reality that sloth, gluttony, and possible—but debatable—self-pity have dominated my life for the past couple of months.
My own personal battle started on Christmas Day, 2019, but my full-blown loss of the war commenced in June, when I admitted defeat and began crawling to a destination unknown. And truth be told, that destination is still a mystery that I work to figure out every day.
What is happiness, anyway?
I’m blessed, grateful, and could not appreciate or value more the life that I have. I’m a lot of things, but happiness is fleeting—a feeling that overwhelms us with joy then all too quickly passes, fading into our memories.
I have a solid job, a roof over my head, a terrific furry soulmate, and wonderful family and friends who I cherish. I have every reason to be happy. And sometimes I am. But sometimes I’m not.
I was in a size four, in love, excelling at Pilates, practicing a healthy lifestyle, and had goals for the future.
I am now liberated from toxic relationships, free to do as I please and have the ability to manage my work schedule accordingly. Am I happy? I should be.
But I am not happy all the time, I’m not happy right now, and it’s my own darned fault.
I’m disappointed in myself for allowing self-pity and emotional discord to rule my world.
I’m angry at myself for allowing self-deceit—the denial that accompanies the proclamation of “I’m fine.”
When I was able to get back into the moment, I was on the treadmill, disgusted and livid for not stepping up for myself and embracing this realization before today.
And I’m downright mad for not getting hold of this before I felt like I did in that epiphany.
Happiness is tough.
Happiness takes grit, commitment, work, failure, and a willingness to do that again day-in and day-out. I’ve lacked that discipline as of late, but I feel it’s dawning in my soul.
My a-ha moment was when I tried to put my head around what happiness truly means.
It’s not a state of being. Happiness unfolds in moments of time that we need to recognize, grab hold of, and celebrate. To get through life, we need to recall those moments because that is the secret force creating more. If we can tally up enough of those cheerful moments, maybe happiness can become a state of being, but it isn’t one inherently.
But until then, we mustn’t worry. We ought to be happy.
Here are four valuable lessons that I’ve learned on my quest for happiness.
When I am falling short in these areas, I find myself in a slump that is difficult to pull myself out of. When I am focused on them, happiness is the result because I put in the effort, make the commitment to take care of myself, and feel a sense of achievement when I succeed.
It’s great to have a lazy day when you don’t have to do your hair, put on make-up, or get out of your pajamas. But when that lazy day turns into several days, when you find every reason not to get dressed, you may not be taking a break. You may be lacking motivation.
Take a break when you need to, but make certain that you are not checking out of your life.
Cookies, ice cream, potato chips, a few drinks, skipping workouts: what a fun and much-needed way to spend a day every once in a while! But when these eating, drinking, and exercise habits become a lifestyle and not an occasional splurge, you may be lacking spirit or the discipline to take care of yourself.
As the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out.
You need to fuel yourself with nutritious food. Give your health and wellness a chance by getting regular exercise and pushing yourself to do both when your splurge day extends to weeks or months.
It’s perfectly normal to feel down, suffer from a case of the blues, or let stress build from time to time. But when that becomes a habit, your mental health will be compromised.
You need to take care of your thoughts like you do your body. Positivity may even be more important given the scientific research on the physical impact that chronic stress, negativity, and toxicity can have on one’s overall health. Find ways to rebuild your spirit by being patient with yourself and taking small steps to improve your thoughts.
It’s not always easy, but it is critical to your well-being.
Choose your company wisely
The company we keep has a strong influence on us, ultimately affecting our well-being. Be aware of toxic, negative personalities and choose to steer clear of those.
While we may need to tolerate these sorts of people professionally, and diplomatically work with or around them, we do not need to do so in our personal lives. Surround yourself with those who feed your soul, stimulate your mind, and support your goals.