Stop waiting to reach the peak, and recognize the climb.
I went for a run today and had an epiphany. This epiphany may just apply to myself alone, but I honestly feel that many people will be able to see themselves in it as much as I do.
My epiphany is that there are two forms of happiness. There is feeling happy, and then there is the recognization of happiness, and no, those aren't the same thing.
We spend so much time searching for happiness. Many of us dedicate our lives to finding happiness, and we believe that to be the best, or even only, way to live. Yet, somehow, we still feel like there's something missing in our lives. That's because we spend too much time looking for things to make us happy, and not enough time recognizing when we are experiencing happiness in the process.
See the thing is that feeling happy is an emotion. You are happy when you are surprised with concert tickets to your favorite band, when your parents tell you they're getting a dog, when you see that you got an A on an exam you were stressing about, and so on. These are fleeting moments of emotion. They don't last for long and don't contribute to your status of living a happy life.
Feeling happy is not a state of being. When someone asks you, “Are you happy?" you think of what you have in your life that is happy. Whether it be the college you attend, the friends you have, the dog you love, or the hobbies you really enjoy. When someone asks you that question, you respond with whether or not you believe yourself to be living a happy life. You don't respond with what current state of being you are in.
Then there is happiness. Happiness once again is not a state of being. Happiness, as I've recently realized, is a process. Happiness is taking a road trip with your friends when you stop at sketchy gas stations to pee and get snacks and then you all fight over who has aux. Happiness is seeing your mom after a month and telling her all about the frat dude who you met last weekend and the professor who you can't stand. Happiness is actually going on that run that you told yourself you would go on, even if it sucks.
Our problem in our search for happiness is that we expect it to show us a big flashy sign saying “Here it is!" when in reality a small sign has been there multiple times and you just haven't noticed.
In order to completely experience your processes of happiness, you need to acknowledge them.
If someone asked me right now, “Are you happy?" I would say yes, and not because I am happy at this moment, but because I am proud of myself for going on that run 10 minutes ago.
There was a point on my run when I thought to myself, “Wow, I said I was going to go for a run and I actually did. I'm running right now. This is happiness." Those are the exact words I thought: “This is happiness." And now is the moment where you, the reader, think to yourself: “Hold up, she was running and— happy???" No. I did not want to be on that run, I was out of shape from a weekend visiting friends and I was exhausted from a long bus ride home.
See I wasn't experiencing the emotion of happy, but I was able to acknowledge that what I was doing was a process of happiness. Acknowledging in the moment that I was experiencing that process was mindset-changing for me.