definition of happiness

I feel like a lot of us use the term happiness very vaguely. It has a different meaning for every person that uses it. A few weeks ago, someone asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I responded, “A place where I don’t feel like I have to hide the way my mind works— a place that allows me to express what makes me happy.”

Well, that answer wasn’t what they were looking for. They wanted to know what job I saw myself having; where I thought I’d be living; would I be in a relationship; or just getting out of college. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s just that I don’t see the world in terms of how will I get by… Which may cause a few problems in my future, but I believe I will do what I need to do, when I need to do it— so I’m not worried.

I look at the world questioning how I can better myself. Every decision I’ve made so far has been thought out, and processed through my mind for hours. I like to look at every option there is before I make a decision. Sometimes I second guess myself, but in the end I know that I made the right choice for me. It’s best to look through all your options before making a final decision— but don’t take too long, otherwise it could be too late. When it comes down to it, always, always, always go with your first instinct; you may just have to jump and risk it all, hoping that you land on your feet.

Accept that you won’t always land on your feet. Sometimes you’ll land flat on your face, and that’s perfect. That is The Universe reminding you that you aren’t invincible, so get back up and continue to pursue whatever it is you’re after.

Now, back to happiness and how it all plays into this. I’m going to show you one of my favorite quotes. It comes from One Tree Hill, a show about teenagers and growing up. It holds more life-lessons than any show I’ve ever come across. Here’s the quote:

“Happiness is a mood. It’s a condition, it’s not a destination. It’s like being tired or hungry— it’s not permanent. It comes and goes and that’s okay. And I think if people thought about it that way, they’d find happiness a lot more often.”-Julian Baker, One Tree Hill.

I vividly remember the first time I heard that quote while watching the show. There are hundreds of quotes on the show that make me think, but this one really tested me. Before, I had always thought about happiness as a destination. Oh, I’ll be happy once I’m in high school. I’ll be happy when I have my mental illness under control. I’ll be happy once I figure out what I want to do with my life. Blah blah…

Obviously my opinion didn’t change right away. It took time for me to process and really think about what that quote truly meant. Eventually, I realized how true it actually was. I also realized that I didn’t remember experiencing a time where I was truly happy; a time where my sadness wasn’t just temporarily overshadowed by a few laughs with my friends.

But now, almost three years after first hearing that quote I realized something else. Those moments when my sadness was overshadowed by laughing with friends— those were moments of happiness. Those were moments where I wasn’t thinking about my mental illness; moments where I forgot that I was even at school— even if just for a few seconds; moments where my constant state of awareness was put on hold so I could enjoy just being. And it upsets me that all of these years I’ve discredited those moments; that I always looked through them, thinking that happiness had to be constant, and it couldn’t come in a range from short to long phases.

Right now, I’m in the longest phase of happiness I’ve ever been in. I’m not living the perfect life, and I have things that test me everyday— some things that really, really test me; things that in the past would have thrown me way off the mark. Except now, I’m not willing to lose this feeling, now that I truly know what it is, and what it means. Because happiness is a choice, and it comes down to whether or not you’re willing to fight for it.

I’ve learned that if you show you’re willing to work for happiness, you are rewarded with happiness. I think this idea proves to be true with almost anything in life. Too many people are stuck complaining about the cards they were dealt, not enough are willing to play them like they were the cards they wanted— the ones who do call the bluff that there is no such thing as a bad hand, are the ones who succeed.

I will admit that I was one to complain that I’ve never had it easy— and I was dealt the worst hand out of anyone I knew. I’ve come to a point of knowing how false that is. Look at where my cards have gotten me; look at all the things I’ve experienced— all of the lessons I’ve learned. Happiness has been a hard thing for me to find, and only until very recently did I think that I’d never had it before.

I’ve surprised myself with this recent state of happiness. I didn’t think I was going to be happy until I got out of Michigan. But it doesn’t matter if you’re unhappy with your location, your job, your friends, your family— whatever. Happiness comes from within. If you find yourself unhappy with any of the things I just listed— change them. If you can’t change them, learn to thrive in them. Remind yourself that you are in control. You are the director of your life. The energy surrounding you has no ability to control you unless you let it.

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Back to the question I was asked a few weeks ago; I still stand by the answer I gave. I’m excited to see where I go. I’m so intrigued by my mind and the way it works; and this writing has really helped me sort through that— some I show you, some I don’t.

So, I’m going to answer that question but first I’m going to take it, and rephrase it: What is your definition of happiness?

The constant pursuit of continuing to ignite what sets my soul on fire.

Simple.

Every time I put words onto paper, I feel a spark. Every time I learn something, that spark gets a bit bigger. Everyday I’m breathing, I experience something that causes a spark, big or small. Eventually these sparks will start a fire, and once that fire does start, it will only grow.

So, my definition of happiness isn’t finally reaching the fire within me; it’s the journey to that fire, and the journey of growing that fire after I reach it.

Everyone’s definition of happiness is different. No definition is worded the same way. I encourage you to really think about what happiness means to you. How can you take your current situation and twist it into something better? How can you set an ultimate goal for yourself, while also enjoying the journey of reaching it? Your life is what you make of it, and the cards in your hand are only as good as you play them. So, find comfort in the idea that it’s all up to you.

-Kelsi

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