What does it mean to be happy? What does it feel like? What is the physiological response to feeling happy? So many questions. In the dictionary it means :-
Definition of happiness
a: a state of well-being and contentment : JOY
b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience.
For example it brings me great Joy that Joy is actually my surname (last name)
Even the word H A P P Y makes me smile. Despite that, I do have a huge issue with happiness, and it is not with the warm, fuzzy, nurtured state we experience. But that society seems to expect that we should be ‘happy’ ALL the DAMN TIME. To say otherwise is a social hand grenade, that will surely make you an outsider.
For example, lets say a friend comes up and says :-
“Hey, how are you? or “Are you happy?” They are probably just feigning interest in your well being, which ultimately makes them feel good, or they are using it as an opener to a conversation. Let me caveat now, that I do know that this will not always be the case. In short the acquaintance will expect you to say “yes” or “I’m good” but what if you go “well, no actually I am having a really bad day”, or “I feel awful and sad and I cannot stop crying. ” Now, that throws a spanner in the works and the friend, colleague, acquaintance, family member have to actually show up and either care for you or cringe in the shadows wishing that the rawness of your reality will disappear.
Why is it assumed that we have to be happy and content all the time? We cannot truly enjoy, accept and relish in happiness if we have not felt the sadness, the discontentment of life, real life at times. Have we not all experienced heart break, loss, hate, discontent, a harsh word, mental abuse, physical abuse? Yes? No? These things do not evoke the feeling of happiness or a warm fuzzy feeling, it will not envelope your body and fold you in the arms of bliss. No – It hurts, it makes you weep, it can make you angry, your heart may ache in sorrow and may never fully heal. It is from these moments of night that a light can break through, it enables a person to see the beauty in the ugly and rise above the discord, a goodness can filter in. The touch of a lovers hand, a letter from a friend, a child’s cheek against your own, the sun on your face, a cool breeze in your hair, the view from a mountain top, a promotion, a call from a family member, diving into a pool, running through a field of grass. And it is from those sweet, miniature moments that happiness blooms spreading internally and externally, a pure, honest, golden haze of joy.
The world is built on equilibrium, each and every feeling, action and thought has an equal and opposite. Harmony is built on opposites, without experiencing one we cannot embrace or understand the other.
To feel happiness is the ability to also feel and appreciate sadness. To love someone gives us the ability to experience loss. To live life, makes us appreciate how it will be to experience death. In my heart of course I want to feel happy, I want you to feel bliss. Yet, there is something so honest, liberating and open about feeling, accepting and appreciating what it is, to be sad. I appreciate it when someone is open and expresses their pain, it is brave and strong and is truly living life to its fullest. I learnt from a very young age that to live my life with emotion was freeing, to allow people to see it, was honest, and I was not lying about who I am. It also gives me the super power to be truly and unashamedly feel HAPPY.
So the next time you ask someone “How are you? or Are you happy?”, please be open to the fact they may not be and really need to share. Embrace their pain, see their pain and allow them to feel and help to put them back on the path towards JOY.