The wonderful thing about happiness is that it is something you own. A feeling that seems at times almost as tangible as it is intangible. It’s something you work for tirelessly, so when you find it, you hold tight and don’t let go.
But in reality, no one can take that happiness away from you unless you let them.
I’ve been interested in the topic of happiness for the better part of my adult life because it was at times so elusive that I wasn’t sure if it had ever existed in the first place. It could be so intense but so fleeting, like a flash of lightning in the night sky. The more I looked at my life of constant, self-inflicted change, I couldn’t decide if it had been due to a need for adventure, or if it was simply an unending pursuit of the idea of happiness that I hadn’t even concretely defined in my own head.
So, then, what is happiness? Through my own experiences, I’ve come to learn that society has a strong and often unwanted influence on our own personal definitions of the concept. We’re conditioned to believe that if we don’t have A, B, and C by the age of X, we’re inherently flawed. If we don’t fit the mold, we’re unlikely to ever be totally happy.
To further complicate what should be so simple, we find that we must disentangle happiness and success. Generally, the relationship is set out before us as thus: if you achieve success, you’ll find happiness. But success, in my opinion, is also highly subjective. In my younger and more naive days, I drank society’s corporate, capitalist Kool-Aid believing that life should be spent climbing the career ladder until I either reached the top or inadvertently fell to my death. But the older I got and the more understood about myself, I realized that it wasn’t that cut and dried.
Over the past several months, things finally began to make sense. I feel I came to terms with the kind of person I am and what I want out of life. I analyzed my past and laid out the findings before me. Then, I did the simplest and most life-changing thing: I accepted that I don’t fit the mold, and that it’s OK.
I don’t care about being rich or working my way to the top. I care about doing my job well and making enough money to get by, but my first priority is to enjoy life with the people I love. Since I’ve accepted that and have begun to work toward living that philosophy, I’ve felt unconditionally happy. A successful life shouldn’t be defined by what you do for a living or how much you make doing it. A successful life should be a happy life, and how you reach that happiness should be whichever way best suits you as an individual.
I’ve found my own personal definition and am owning it the best way I can. I’ve shut out the naysayers, embraced those cheering me on, and forged ahead. Now that I have this happiness, there’s nothing that can tarnish its existence.