Happiness is….well what, exactly. Is anybody ever truly happy? Do we even know what it means to be happy?
This is a question that I’ve been pondering quite a lot in the last month or so. As you will know if you’ve read my last few blog posts I’ve been very busy over the last three weeks. I’ve done lots of things that have been a lot of fun; I got to see lots of my friends, and favourite comedians and laughed until my tummy hurt. I got to see my two best friends get married and I got to hang out with my brother.
All these things are good things, and things that make me happy. But these are just moments of happiness, amongst all this were other moments when I felt sad or annoyed or lonely or just not quite content with my situation or the world around me. Surely everyone feels like this though? Is there anyone out there who can say they are truly happy with everything about their life? And I suppose the question is, would you want to be? If you were happy with every aspect of your life then what would there be to aim for? In the words of the brilliant Oscar Hammerstein ‘You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you going to have a dream come true’. (On the subject of dreams and whether or not we should have them, you really should have a read of this blog by the lovely, and talented, Chasity Flyte). Perhaps you have to have the other moments, of feeling sad, or angry or just plain miserable, in order to appreciate the times when you really are happy.
So am I happy? I think so, most of the time. This time last year, I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going. I had a boring job, which more importantly, didn’t actually pay me enough to live on, I was fat, and it felt like my life was going nowhere. And that was when I decided to take the leap on to my teacher training course. It was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life and if I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure it was the right one. Only time, and experience of teaching in the real world is going to tell me that. But it’s going to give me the opportunity to move to London which I might not have had otherwise (or at least it would have been a lot more difficult), and at last, after 10 years of drifting along, I will actually have a career, rather than just a job. And fortunately, one that pays me enough and gives me enough time off to do all the other things that make me happy. And as regular readers will know, I’ve dealt with the being fat part too – although that is an ongoing challenge and will be for a long time to come. As I’ve said before, I knew that losing weight would make me happier, but I also knew it wasn’t the magic fix to all my problems. What losing weight does is mean that I can’t blame anything else on being fat, I have to deal with the root of the problem.
I love the little things in life that can make a person happy; for me it’s things like getting a compliment from a friend, or being told that I missed when I’m not there, or driving along singing as loud as I can to one of my favourite songs, or playing my ukulele, or reminiscing with my brother about stupid things we did when we were kids, or staying up late, drinking booze and watching action movies with my Dad, or more recently, being thanked by the kids at school when they realise I’m not going to be teaching them any more. These are all the things that make me happy. And of course there are the bigger things too, like being lucky enough to own my own flat and affording to live here, and having a family who are healthy, and having some great friends and all those other clichés.
Then there are the things that make me mad; some of them little things, like my neighbour taking my parking space, or people cancelling on me at the last minute, or people who wander aimlessly down busy streets. And the bigger things like the fact that our country is going to hell in a hand cart and so many people don’t vote because they think it’s not their problem. Or the fact that children are being brought up to believe in gods that don’t exist (if adults want to believe then that’s entirely up to them, but it makes me so mad that so many children aren’t given a choice).
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think anyone can say, with utmost certainty, ‘I am happy’. We need all the crappy stuff to balance it out. And that’s what it is about; balance. I’m sure someone has come up with an equation, but I reckon if I’m happy 75% of the time, I’m taking that one as a win. I’d be really interested to hear what other people think about this… Are you happy? What do you think happiness is? And can anyone ever really be happy all the time?