Small Happiness

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

For the past few years, I’ve been coming to terms with the idea that happiness isn’t eternal. It’s not the result of some spiritual process or magical awakening. Definitely I’m aware it’s not deserved or a persistent state of mind. Some people might have more of it, leading to a better sense of fulfillment. I don’t.

Growing up, I was told the opposite, which is why I’d feel like there was something wrong with me. More importantly, I was told that I couldn’t get anything meaningful out of a life without tying it to some spiritual understanding. Not being happy meant I was spiritually weak.

I haven’t been able to get over these beliefs overnight, but I think I am starting to see progress.
There is a measure of comfort knowing I actually don’t need to be as happy as I think others are. Feelings are deeply personal, and some people are just better at convincing themselves that everything is okay. I have to work harder than they do. It doesn’t make me less of a person; it makes me different.

It also means I don’t have to constantly try to search and hold onto any positive feelings whenever I have them. That sort of neediness is something I’ve never been comfortable with, but when you’re told happiness is supposed to be a reward to the deserving, one tends to do such things. Feelings change like the weather. I don’t think my spirit is broken when the barometer drops; it makes no sense to do the same when I’m not feeling content.

Most of all, I can’t stress enough that I can find minor amounts of fulfillment and happiness in different things I do. Whether it’s getting some writing done, or getting positive feedback on a blog post, or just helping brighten someone’s day, these things do actually give me something good to feel about. So what if I don’t feel extra happy? Happiness isn’t a footrace or a spiritual destination.

I feel a little better about this.
I’m writing this because I think there are a lot more examples of people trying to convince others to be unhappy, and not enough things which affirm someone’s happiness or fulfillment. Over the past few days, I’ve seen too many reminders telling me I should be angry at someone for the silliest of reasons. I don’t need that anger, and I certainly don’t want to add to it.

Sometimes happiness can be small. Yeah, I’d feel really great if I helped build a house for someone in need. My skills at construction are terrible, so that isn’t something I’ll be able to do in the near future. I’ll have to settle for listening to people’s problems, or doing some simple act of kindness. Although it won’t make me happy forever, it’ll at least keep my mind off being unhappy.

5 thoughts on “Small Happiness

  1. Hello S.B. Great post, it has a lot in it that could be posts on their own. You do accomplish a lot for people with your posts. You have a great point about others trying to make people unhappy, that seems to me a lot of what social media is about. I do not know if it makes you happy, but you have taught me many things about about mental illness through your posts and changed some of my misconceptions. Thank you. Hugs

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  2. I tell you what, one, don’t compare yourself with others; there will those better than you and those worse off than you. In either case, you may become vain or bitter.
    But most of all don’t pay attention to those pretend gurus who seem to preach unending happiness, they are definitely lying. But as Hariod would say, seek contentment.

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  3. Why is there not a “❤” button on WP???

    This is a great post, SB. Happiness is transitory and it really is an emotion not a spiritual state of being. And, you are right, some people are happier more often than others. I think the goal, for me, is not happiness but reduced suffering and some fulfillment, which is more attainable.

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  4. To many human states of high repute are really ephemeral. Take “meaning.” If someone asks “what is the meaning of this …? We make up a story on the spot. The classic example is a child caught with their hand in a cookie jar and queried with “What are you doing?” You can see their little minds whirring coming up with a plausible story, usually made out of whole cloth. I think all meanings are made of whole cloth.

    I check in from time to time with my mental state (I even carry a gratitude rock from time to time to remind me). If I ask myself “Am I happy?” I find that I almost always am. That is an assessment, not an emotion. or mood, per se, rarely am I “a young child at a birthday party happy” happy. Mostly I am quite content with my lot in life. But, if I don’t stop and query myself, these mental assessments usually don’t come up. Normally I just paddle along through my life.

    If you tend to obsess on a topic … then you will be making such assessments quite possibly way too often. And they become an object of dissatisfaction in and of themselves. I am not sure they are necessary in the first place; I think we train our children to do these things with our usual parent-based questions that we demand that they explain themselves. Gosh, why the fuck would a child be caught with their hand in a cookie jar? They had better have a good explanation! WTF? Ideally our children would answer as an adult would, something on the order of “I am getting a cookie to eat.” Put I suspect we would punish our children if they answered honestly, so they learn to make up bullshit along with everyone else.


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