Where is your happiness? This seems to be a fundamental question asked by many people, but is often too scary to really look at. Often times, without even realizing it, we place our happiness, or rather, our ability to be happy, in other people or things. We do this every day, with every interaction we have, and we don’t even know it. Then, when something goes wrong with one of our “happiness givers,” we feel lost because we think that we can’t be happy without them. I’ve always heard that happiness cannot come from anyone else and that it has to come from ourselves. But, what does that actually mean? I struggled for a long time not knowing how to be happy. I thought it was some sort of end goal, something that would happen once just a few certain things fell into place. But, that’s just not how happiness works.
Julian Baker, a character on "One Tree Hill," sums it up perfectly by saying, "Happiness is a mood, and it's a condition, not a destination. It's like being tired or hungry - it's not permanent. It comes and goes and that's OK. And I think if people thought about it that way, they'd find happiness a lot more often."
Being happy is something that comes and goes, and that is how it’s supposed to be. Happiness is an emotion, and emotions are never permanent. We may think our happiness comes from a significant other or a best friend. One day, they enter our lives, and everything seems to make sense. We feel happy. We have fun times, we do exciting things, and we feel happy because we are enjoying something new and exciting. Then, one day, we have an argument, we get used to that “happy” feeling and no longer notice it, or we just don’t feel that happy emotion as often anymore. What do we do then? As humans, we’re inclined to just give up. We think that happiness should always be there, and when it’s not, something is wrong. Sometimes, something terrible happens and you should let go of that person. But, more often than not, we need to take another look at how we are measuring our happiness.
Our friends, significant others, family members, and every other person we come into contact with have the potential to add happiness to our lives, but they also have the opportunity to keep it stagnant, and that’s OK. We’re all flawed and are all bound to mess up, have rough times, and feel completely lost about what to do in our lives. Because of this, sometimes, your relationships with other people are going to feel different than they once were. But, just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just because something is temporarily stressful, doesn’t mean that it won’t go back to the way it was before. Happiness is fleeting, and that’s OK.
When those times come, and you’re not sure what to do, ask yourself where you should really be drawing your happiness from. Another person can never make you fully happy. Even if they sometimes make you feel happy, it won’t always be like that, because that’s simply not the way we were created to live. Two flawed beings will never be able to work perfectly together, at all times, and always feel happy.
If we want to feel true happiness, first we must accept that it is something we must choose to feel and choose to seek out as we are pursuing out bigger goals, but must also choose to know that it is not an end goal. Money can never make us happy. Another person can never make us happy. Happiness is not and cannot be our only goal. The only one who can make us happy is ourselves, doing what we love to do. If we seek after what we long for, doing what makes us feel alive and passionate, happiness will be a side effect.
The giver of happiness, God, made us this way for a reason. We have to look to ourselves to choose happiness and have to realize that true happiness can truly only come from Him. We can pray more, go to mass more, and immerse ourselves in our faith more to feel a lasting joy. We can discover more of our passions. We can write, read, try new favorite foods, enjoy time with good friends, spend time outside on a beautiful day, practice our favorite sport, realize we love the way music relates to us so well, recognize our passion for working with children, develop a habit of following current politics a little bit more, or whatever makes us feel just a little more alive. The more we seek those things out, the bigger our desire will be to keep discovering and doing more, and the more happiness we will find along the way.