What is happiness? What lifts your heart and makes it flutter and spirit fly? In two days I turn 24 and the constant phase of reflection is kicking in. After watching the breathtakingly beautiful documentary “Human” by Yan Artus Bertrand (if you have a care in the world about the planet we live on, I highly recommend you watch and be inspired) hearing what ‘happiness’ means for people all around the world, it sparked a question, what is happiness?
“Happiness is when the kids come for a visit. That is my happiness as a mother. When your husband comes home, smiles and kisses you, after 33 years of marriage, that is my happiness as a wife. My filial happiness is over. My parents have passed away. When they were still living, and I came home, they smiled to see me. That too was happiness. Happiness is hearing my grandchildren say, “Grandma!” It’s waking up and not being sore anywhere, not being sick. There are many kinds of happiness but also only one. You are alive, so you are happy.” – Elena, Russia.
“My happiness is seeing I have at home, in my humble abode, a television, a refrigerator, a washing machine. My son is well, my daughter is well, my 15-year-old son is finishing his studies, he’s going to train and make something of his life…that is happiness to me. Immense happiness.” – Rute, Brazil.
“The defining point in my life was when I was living in a women’s refuge centre, in a supported flat. I witnessed the tragic death of a friend from a drug overdose. I had to stand up in court and tell his parents why he had lost his life. My life could have gone down two paths: I could follow him to death, or I could do something with my life. A few days later, I walked in to my local college and I asked them, “Please teach me, I want to learn”. There was an amazing tutor there, his name was Paul. Paul said to me, “come and learn with me. I do a sport course; I want you to be on that course. I remember thinking this guy is amazing. I’ve got no qualifications and he’s willing to take me on. Paul used to come to the homeless hostels and pick me up and take me to the boxing ring. I remember one day having this boxing match with Paul, and punching him in the stomach and him screaming in pain. He told me he had stomach cancer. Paul spent the last 2 years of his life engaging with me and making me believe in myself. He lost his life before I graduated college but it was that one person that believed I could make it to university. The fact he’s done this with the last 2 years of his life. What an exceptional person to be facing death and say, “I’m not giving up, I’m going to help people.” – Sophie, Ireland.
So what is happiness? Why do we speak of it as a destination? It isn’t. It is fleeting. If it wasn’t, would we appreciate it so much? See, we’re always in a hurry. A hurry to get to work, a hurry to finish work and go home, a hurry to get to the gym. A hurry to do the food shopping so you can hurry and cook dinner. A never ending cycle of hurrying along with life. When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? When I was younger and people asked me what my dream was, the answer used to be "to be happy". The older I get, the more I realise happiness is not a destination. It's a feeling. A mindset. It's gratitude.
Happiness is seeing my parents and granddad happy. It’s going to the cinema with my brothers and escaping to the world of a genius mind. It’s being in the kitchen, cooking with my mum. Happiness is hearing the crazy tales my nephew has to tell about his day at nursery. It’s watching my niece grow demonstrating something new every time I see her. Happiness is extending a helping hand to a stranger, it’s starting a conversation with an old lady on a bus knowing you’re probably the only person she’s spoken to all day. It’s meeting and connecting with like minded souls who are on the same wavelength. It's spreading positive energy and receiving it back. Happiness is a new book, opening up a new world. Happiness is real, human connection.
Happiness is stopping and smelling the roses. It’s learning to enjoy and embrace all life throws at you without comparing yourself to others because it’s your journey and that alone. It’s embracing darkness because without it, we wouldn’t appreciate the light. It's letting go of anything that disrupts your energy. It’s coming to the realisation that all the small things are the big things. It's knowing that you are enough and everything you need, is within.
What’s your happiness?