Are You Happy?
Have you ever asked yourself if you are happy? Like, really asked yourself. I remember being in high school the first time the question was posed. I remember a defensive automation of, “Of course I’m happy.” And then I thought, “Wait..am I?” It made me uncomfortable to question whether or not I was happy. I thought I should be happy. I felt guilty for even questioning it. I was born into a loving family in a safe town in a country where my freedoms are much greater than in many others. I was nourished and loved and healthy and educated. I felt like I didn’t really have a right not to be happy.
I’ve had many happy moments in my life. I have appreciated many of the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with like a childhood filled with laughter, affection, and I-love-you-goodnights. But when I contemplate happiness it’s something deeper that comes up; it’s a fulfillment of soul. It means being completely content with who I am deeply, alone and with others. Happiness is being at ease and content with what is in the moment. And…happiness means being ok if I die.
I was one of those kids who always contemplated death. One of those kids? Maybe that’s not a common kid thing, but it was for me. My mind couldn’t grasp it, and I spent a lot of time trying to understand why we die and what’s on the other side. I have memories of my mom and I sitting on my bed at night, sometimes for hours, talking about life and death and how crazy it all seems. As I grew older I sought out different spiritual paths to quench my angst. All of my experiences culminated with me finally looking deeply inward in a way that was right for me and on no one else’s terms.
Looking within left me faced with the deep recognition that to be happy meant that I had to come to terms with myself.
I had to learn how to love myself for who I am right now. I couldn’t keep criticizing myself, stifling my voice, or allowing myself to believe that I wasn’t worthy of being seen as I am in this moment. It wasn’t going to be through laughing with friends, intellectual conversations, a boyfriend, or a puppy that I was going to feel whole. While I can be happy in those moments, those moments can’t bring me happiness. That only came through genuine, complete surrender to myself.
Throughout The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo writes about today being a good a day as any to die, “To die tomorrow was no worse than dying on any other day. Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.” Tomorrow was never a good day to die for me. I thought I feared death because I loved being alive so much, but now I realize that I feared death because I wasn’t truly happy. I wasn’t listening to my soul’s cry, and to die without my deepest desires being lived was too tragic for me to bare.
I am not in love with one other person. I don’t have any babies. I don’t live a life according to many conventions. But not having those things, not living according to the status quo are not the things that makes me happy nor the things that make me unhappy. Today I am happy, not because of my successes or my growth or the amazing people in my life, but because I have carved my way deep down to my soul to discover who is in there.
I am happy because I have found a love for myself that grows stronger every day.
Without this love there is only a facade of happiness. With this love, it becomes possible to be joy in the present moment and to acknowledge then that yes, tomorrow’s a good a day as any to die.