are you happy?

happy is a term we tend to use often, perhaps without thinking about the meaning. sometimes it is used lightly, insincerely, or in place of a more descriptive emotion. other times we use this word with intense feeling, gratitude and are completely aware of the magnitude of happiness.

i think a lot about happiness: am i happy? what makes this or that person happy? when have i been happy? what makes me happy? what is happy? is happiness even definable? why does my definition of happy change…does it change? am i happy enough? why am i unhappy? was i happier when….? why does this or that make me happy? why does this or that make me unhappy?

are you happy?

while on our trip to washington, dc, lola and i played this game- “are you happy?…. i’m happy!” i’m not quite sure how it started (or maybe she was already doing this and it was just new to me) but every time she looked at me with big eyes full of  2 year old sincerity and asked “you happy?” it made me extremely giddy-joyous-happy! i would reply with “yes! i am happy! are you happy?” and lola would giggle and say “i happy!”.

happiness for me is children- their laughter, their wisdom, their raw emotion, their ability to make people smile.

sometimes i ask mike out of the blue, “are you happy?” he almost always stops what he is doing, looks into my face and chuckles a little before saying, “yes, of course i am happy!” he thinks it’s a little silly of me to ask this, but i really want to know. i want to be sure he is happy- all the time- with me, in our life together, in this or that moment.

happiness for me is seeing my husband smile.

i find that i “check in” with other people i love too. i will ask my mom “are you happy right now?” when we are driving together. she laughs and says “yes, silly! of course i am happy!”) i worry about her, my sister, my aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws…i want my family to be happy, whatever that means to them.

happiness for me is a close and content family.

i even ask myself “are you happy?” occasionally. i find myself smiling when i am completely alone, and say, “huh, i’m happy right now!” i think it occurs to me that i am happy because there have been times in my life when i was decidedly unhappy. miserable and sad and lonely and lost- not at all happy. during those times if someone were to ask me “are you happy?” i may have tried to lie, but it would have been unconvincing.  i wouldn’t have meant it. i tried to be happy and i struggled with the question “what is wrong with me that i am not happy?” so, now that i feel happiness on a daily basis, i appreciate it, i honor it, i acknowledge it, and i celebrate it!

happiness for me is acknowledging/feeling happy in the here and now!

allison is by best friend. we have known each other for 9 years now. she is my oldest friend. i often tell her we are only still friends because of the work she put into our friendship. that is not to say i love her less…it is only to say i am terrible at holding on to people. i tended to push away rather than hold on. allison showed me it was safe to hold on, even rewarding! she has loved me unconditionally, given and taken advice, allowed me to be a friend and to rely on a friend. she is more to me than i even have words for.

happiness for me is allison, a best friend that never ends!

there are always aspects of our lives that could be better- more time, more money, less stress, more this, less that…. sometimes we achieve more and find we are still wanting. sometimes we get what we want and don’t even notice. but sometimes, we work to achieve more or less and find the happy balance.

happiness for me is finding and keeping my balance.

i recently realized that i was missing a community. i needed friends, people like me, women with the same interests and desires. i needed people to share with, to talk with and to be with. so, i sought out my community. for awhile i tried immersing myself into the “family” community, but i found that made me extremely sad because those people all had something i desperately wanted- children.(unhappiness for me is wanting what i don’t yet have)  i wasn’t ready for that community. so i searched more and found a community of women artists. they are artists, wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters, daughters….they are women who share my interests and my dreams. i mention these women a lot and that is because they make me very happy. i treasure the friendships i have developed and look forward to developing more!

happiness for me is being part of a community and finding friendship.

if you are a regular reader, you may know that the last year was an extremely difficult year for me and mike. i had 2 serious back surgeries which resulted in me spending a LOT of time in bed recovering and out of work for over a year now. as painful, stressful , and depressing all that felt…i still look back and think “yea, i was happy”. why in the world did i feel happy during this past year amid all the sadness, disappointment, struggle and pain? i had mike. i had family. i had friends. i had good doctors and physical therapists. i had hope. and now, i have moments when i stop in my tracks, smile from ear to ear and say “i  am pain free right now!” that makes me extremely happy! mike and i have worked very hard this past year to budget, cut back, and find alternatives…we fought, felt frustrated, stressed and scared. but we are in a good place now (not cushy, by any means), but we are making it- because we work together to make it work!

happiness for me is feeling relief from pain. 

happiness for me is being a successful team with my husband.

you may be wondering what sparked this long post about happiness. yesterday morning i finished a book called hector and the search for happiness by francois lelord. at first i found it cute, but also a little silly…i wasn’t sure where the book was going and had a difficult time getting used to the writing style. but the last few chapters really made me think about my own thoughts on happiness- what does happiness mean to me, how do i measure happiness, what does happiness look like for other people? hector travels around searching for these and other answers. he finds many “lessons” of happiness, like lesson no. 11- happiness is having a home and garden of your own.  and lesson no. 1- making comparisons can spoil your happiness.  many of the lessons hit home with me (like lesson no. 11!) some i hadn’t thought of at all. lesson no. 1 is interesting to me- making comparisons can spoil your happiness…even comparing yourself now to yourself then can either spoil or make happiness! you often hear people say “that was the happiest day of my life”, “i have never been happier”, “i can’t imagine a happier moment”, “i am happier now than i have ever been”… i myself have said some of these things. does that mean that i am truly happier in this very moment than ever before? i think not. i think we have moments of happiness throughout our lives and the most recent moment, day, experience, etc feels the happiest. that is not to say that this moment or that moment can truly pale in comparison…or even be compared at all- happiness is relative– just like pain, love, sadness, loneliness, and most other emotions. what matters is the here and now.

all that said…i challenge you all to acknowledge your happinesstoday, tomorrow, in the past, and in the future. and read hector and the search for happiness… (cause it’ll make you think and it is really quite funny- in a dry humor sort-of way!)

other things that make me happy right now

opposite of far

making things

animals:

(namely- milo, bruce, frankie, kitty, goats, chickens, foxes, owls….you get the point)

good food…and junk food

hot beverages

traditions

taking photographs

bon iver

old books, new books, borrowed books, overflowing bookshelves

a thoroughly cleaned and organized house

a messy, hectic, lived-in house

holidays, holiday decorating

snuggling under my down comforter with a book in the morning

cuddling/snuggling with mike and my pups

……and so, so much more!

i would *LOVE* to hear from you, my dear readers, about what makes you happy, your definition or understanding of happiness, or any other thoughts you want to share!

{i haven’t heard from many of you and would love to know who you are, what makes you tick, and why you read my blog!}

thanks for reading!

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