Lately I’ve been thinking…
Am I happy?
There was a point in my adult life when I knew, for a fact, I was not happy. I was not depressed. I was able to find some joy but I was definitely not living a happy life. I was overwhelmed, worried, and bombarded by stress more often than not. After disentangling ourselves from many of the sources of that negativity, I felt as if my little family entered a period of extreme happiness. I remember driving one afternoon, singing loudly to myself in the car, my mind buzzing with fun upcoming plans. I stopped singing to reflect a minute and thought, “Wow. THIS is happy. I’m finally happy.”
Four years later I feel as if I’m struggling a little again. While there is not one thing in my life for me to point to that’s causing this feeling of unease, I am definitely wondering if I am happy. And I almost feel selfish saying it out loud.
I have so many blessings in my life. My girls. A satisfying career. A solid marriage. A home. Supportive family members literally steps away. We are all healthy, overall. So why am I wondering if I am happy? Why wouldn’t I be happy?
I started to think about what happiness actually IS. I thought back to that moment in the car four years ago and I realized I was happy because the stress causing me so much UNhappiness was gone. My “happiness” in that moment was actually relief. I thought about other moments in my life when I was filled with a feeling of happiness. My wedding day. The birth days of each of my three daughters. Hearing them each FINALLY say “mama”. That afternoon in Paris with my husband on my 40th birthday. Introducing my 4-year-old to Elsa in Disney World and making her dream come true. Screaming and laughing along with my daughter in the front row of a roller coaster. Watching my daughter perform at her dance recital, seeing her beaming smile as she found me in the audience. Singing and dancing in the kitchen with my goofy daughter laughing until we fell down. Crawling into bed next to my sleeping husband after a long day, catching his hand as he instinctively reached for me, feeling warm, safe, and loved.
I started to make this list and realized I could go on and on. I began to wonder if “happiness” is actually excitement, pride, silliness, relief, joy, contentment and so many other feelings. Happiness, at least for me, also seems to be related to specific moments in time rather than a global overarching feeling. Maybe I actually am happy.
Maybe happiness isn’t supposed to be an all day every day feeling. Maybe it’s okay to spend some time feeling not so happy. I am very busy. My children are so busy. We are always worried about money as our expenses just seem to be getting bigger as they get bigger. We don’t travel enough and I’m suffering from serious wanderlust. We don’t get out enough but our kids need us to be there for them too. I don’t sleep enough but sometimes I just need that extra hour at night to myself when the house is quiet. If you look at this list it’s no wonder there are mornings when I wake up and just don’t feel filled with happy. Maybe this just isn’t my season in life to be brimming with joy.
But I hope that changes.
For now, I’ll look for the moments and savor the happy when I feel it.