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Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. // Albert Einstein

Happiness is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Is it really possible to define your entire goal in life into one word? 

I strive for contentment.

Contentment and happiness are two very different things. Happiness is characterized by the ecstatic high point, which guarantees a low point after — almost like a sugar rush.  Being content is being at peace, and nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

When I was five, happiness was being able to watch Duck Tales over and over again. Happiness was singling out the best Happy Meal toy and by fate having it be in my little red box. Happiness is also acceptance, love, compassion, or watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a really, really fucking good cup of coffee. The cliche is that materialistic things do not make up happiness. While it doesn’t completely define happiness, there’s no doubt that materialistic things has an influence on what makes me happy. Being secure financially is a huge part of being happy, because I feel safe.

So how can I define happiness if there are so many different components attached to one word? I have priorities in my life that are different than the person I cross the street with, or my brother, or the stranger waiting at the red light. My definition of happiness never centered around me.

Happiness is the people you surround yourself with.

Family, friends, mentors, role models, teachers, inspirations. My parents, my cousins, my brother, my grandparents. My best friends, writers and improvisers I look up to, the nice people that I have the pleasure of meeting going about my day.

Happiness is creativity.

Expression, spirituality, peace, art. The collecting canvases in my car or scattered in my room, the journals filled with ideas.

Happiness is enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm for life, for living, for loving. Hobbies, music, films, food, books. Comedy, mentors, learning, talent, hard work. Opportunities, experiences, taking chances.

Happiness is independence.

Freedom, stability, security. Challenges, failure, struggle, patience, thriving.

My definition of happiness was centered on the idea of what I was surrounded with: the company you keep, the family you interact with, doing the things you enjoy, etc.

Now, I know that everything I strive for in terms of happiness I should start with myself. I strive for contentment. I now realize that I have the power to change how my brain works. I am what I think I am. Stress is an optional component in my life. Suffering is an optional idea. So instead of creating my idea of happiness around what is present in my life, I should also work on finding happiness within myself, first.

 

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