Here’s a question. What would make you happy?
The question is both simple and difficult. However, I ask this because I know there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer. There’s a long one and a short one. Then of course, there’s an honest answer, to which I submit that most times, people aren’t sure what happiness is.
What would make you happy?
This is a great question.
What is happiness anyway?
Of course, the dictionary will say this is the state of being happy, or having good fortune, pleasure, contentment or joy. Is this possible in the world we live in? Or what about our work life or in the case that we have to deal with the unenjoyable; can we still be happy?
Some say that happiness can’t be bought. Others say happiness comes when you can be by yourself and not feel alone.
I offer that my definition of happiness is not hinged or contingent upon anyone or anything else. This has nothing to do with wealth or poverty. This has nothing to do with a job title. Happiness is not connected to status or looks. This is not about keeping up with anyone else or about victory. This has nothing to do with who likes us (or who doesn’t).
The truth is we are all on a search for what makes us happy. Yet, the truth is most people are unsure of what makes them happy. Of course, there’s a fantasy. Of course, there’s the notion that wealth makes happiness but, in fairness, I have met my fair share of miserable millionaires.
There’s an idea of what happiness looks like, which is why I place this question here. This is why I offer this in my journal to you. This is also why I have titled this book, I Have Found (It!)
“I have found it!”
This is the translation of the word “Eureka!”
This is what happens when we stumble across something we’ve been looking for. Whether this is something as simple as our car keys or cell phone and then ah, we feel relieved. Or, this can be when we have one of those “Eureka!” moments such as when we come to a realization for ourselves. We come to an understanding and just like that, “Eureka!” we see what we’ve been missing. Or better yet, “We have found (It!)” which can mean anything.
The history of the word Eureka comes from Archimedes when (as tales say) he was taking a bath and came to a remarkable discovery. He came up with an idea and “Eureka!” he was on to something.
I think we all have our own “Eureka!” moments. We all have our own moments of awareness. Our eyes open and we see things a bit more clearly. And just like that, we’ve found it.
In the case of awareness and understanding, we all have life in front of us. We have bills to pay. We have people to answer to. We have rules to follow and yet, there are people who choose not to follow them. They do this right in front of us.
Not everyone plays well in the sandbox. Not all friends are good friends and here we are in something that I like to call Project Earth.
We’re all trying to find our way. We’re all searching for answers. We’re looking for the great solution which is this: how can we successfully make it through the day?
We all have our own questions. And again, to each their own, which means we all have our own journey and we all have our own crosses to bear. No two people are exactly alike.
My version of happiness might not apply to someone else. Or, this could be like when people say, “Someone’s poison is another person’s pleasure.” I agree with this.
We all have our own flavors. We certainly have our own seasoning, which means not all flavors interact. Not all people are matches and, sometimes, what seems to be the biggest mismatch can often be the most compatible. Hence, we judge too quickly.
What complements you?
What makes you smile?
What (if anything) could you do for the rest of your life and be content with?
There was a person who told me that if you love what you do, you’ll never go to work a day in your life. Now, before going onward, I openly say that I did not like this person when he told me this. I did not like him at all. In fact, I wondered if this was real. Or, did he go home and kick the dog? Was his smile as plastic as the spoons on a picnic table? Or, was any of this real?
I say this because I am part of a machine in this world. I am a moving part and each morning I see people making their way to their daily gig.
I see people in their commute with their commuter faces on. I see businessmen walking in full-tilt and with purpose.
Perhaps there’s a newspaper tucked beneath one arm and a briefcase in hand. Maybe there’s a cup of coffee in the other hand – their neck is bent forward, their eyes seem determined to get where they need to be.
Or, perhaps this is a business woman in her best business woman attire, making her way in the world and growing strong. Or, maybe this is someone who is like you or me – dressed casually and just trying to make a go of it. This could be anyone.
However, I offer this question to anyone in the workforce as well as to those who are leashed to a desk or chained to a job that they’ve outgrown.
What would make you happy?
Or better yet, what would you have to do to make yourself happy?
Lastly, what has to happen in order for you to make that change?
These are valid questions.
What would have to happen for the so-called lightbulb to turn on above your head and just like that, you’ve come to a moment when you can say “Eureka!”
I’ve found (It!)
Now of course, this is subjective. On the surface, almost anyone can tell you about happiness. Yet, there are so many of us who are unsure what happiness means.
This is not to say that understanding happiness means that we are unhappy all the time. No, perhaps this means that whether good things or bad things persist – the emotion of happiness is not disturbed by outside coincidences. This is not about win or lose, victories, failure, or whether we are rich or poor. This is not about anyone else’s version of happiness or whichever blueprint they use to find their remedies and prove their worth.
To me, one of the happiest moments of my life happened when I decided to remove myself from a surrounding that was unfit for me. I decided to push myself away from the table, scoot my chair backwards, stand up, and push my chair back in and, without looking back, I walked away.
Moments like this are huge.
Standing up or “getting up” from a table where respect is no longer served is perhaps one of the best feelings of all. This is what it means to be free – and to me, this is where happiness begins. This is where the “Eureka!” moments are found. This is when we come to the moment of awareness that we deserve more. We deserve better.
I have placed this here in my third entry of I Have Found (It!) for this reason alone: There are times in which I can remember someone telling me the day you’ll find love is the day you stop looking for it. I was told it’s that simple. Then without cause or provocation, there it is – love.
How many times have you found something while looking for something else? Or, wait. No. How many times have you moved full-speed ahead into something that you thought was supposed to be your fate, only to make a left turn somewhere and realize that fate can change at any moment. And just like that, you say to yourself “Eureka!”
I have found (It!).
(Whatever the “it” may be.)
This book is intended to take a look inside. As the author, I am offering myself as an example. As a person, I am also writing this as someone who is in search of answers too.
I go back to an idea that I was told when I entered into the world of recovery. I was scatter-brained. My thoughts were anxious. I couldn’t think clearly let alone read something or spell my name.
I was told that you get your brains back after five years of sobriety. I was told that it takes you ten years to learn how to use them. Then I was told that after 15 years, you realize you didn’t need your brains in the first place. I have 31 years now. This does not mean that I’ve done everything right. This does not mean I’ve been a boy scout this whole time either. No. not at all.
My interpretation of this is that we often have exactly what we need. We have everything we need to be happy and successful. I also interpret this to mean that most of what makes us happy is right in front of us. The answer to our question is usually right in front of us. Or better yet, the answer to our equation is us. The solution is the figure staring back at us when we face the mirror at the end of the day.
What has to happen for you to be happy?
I will offer that most people are unsure of what makes them happy. Then again, most people are unsure of themselves and their worth.
Most are unaware of their own charm, their talents, their gifts, or charisma. Most people don’t know that they are always the square root to their own equation which means the answer to the question of “What makes me happy” has to come from within. When this day comes or when you find yourself in the moment and when you scream out, “Ah-Ha! I’ve found it!”
Keep us posted.
In closing, I connect the idea of happiness to the art of learning how to ride a bicycle. I was one of those kids who learned later. Almost all of my friends learned how to ride a bike before me.
I know this because they made fun of me.
Then one day, I was determined to learn. I was tired of the ridicule. I was tired of the jokes. I was tired of being picked on; but more, I was tired of feeling like I was missing out on something.
I wanted to learn.
I remember thinking that there must be a secret. There has to be one, right?
I asked people who knew how to ride how to balance myself.
I asked, “How do you balance yourself? And the answer was funny.
I remember being told, “I don’t know. You just do it.”
More than my Old Man pushing me on my bike and letting go of the seat and more than me falling down or the frustration of not being able to balance myself; it was a moment of determination that taught me how to ride a bike.
I taught myself.
I went to an empty parking lot near my house. I was tired of falling. I was tired of feeling unsuccessful.
I sat on my bicycle seat and walked around the parking lot.
Step by step, the wheels moved and my legs helped me keep my balance. Then the fear of falling began to subside. I was able to trust myself and the process which is what made all of the difference in the world.
This was a worrying point for me. The criticalness of falling or being a failure; of not being able to ride a bike, of not being able to fit or be like the other kids; this was intimidating. This was my obstacle, which caused me to overthink and lose my balance.
However, I had to get around this obstacle.
I began step by step and then slowly, I started to glide on two wheels for a little longer. Then I was able to glide further and lift my feet up.
Then I was able to pedal and the next thing I knew, I was riding a bicycle on my own, without help, and without training wheels.
Life is this way too. We have to teach ourselves but first, we have to be determined to learn. We have to make this a priority. We can’t care if we fall. We can’t worry about the outside intimidations.
I suppose I can say this is part of the secret of happiness – to not be dependent upon anything or anyone else; to overcome doubt, to find balance and to glide around without worrying if we fall or not.
My goal was to learn how to ride my bicycle until Eureka!
I figured it out.
At the age of almost 50, I can’t say that I remember the last time I was on a bicycle.
But, they say that once you learn, you’ll never forget.
Well, I hope not.
Perhaps the same logic applies to happiness too.
Once you learn what this is . . . .
you’ll never forget.
I Have Found (It!)