We all do.
But the truth is, you’re scared shitless of it. Completely bat shit crazy of having it because lo and behold if you get it, if you experience it and get used to experiencing it, you just might lose it. Here’s a little 411 for you: so am I, and so is everyone.
That’s our first problem.
The second one is this: most of us wouldn’t know happiness if it appeared on our doorstep and introduced itself.
Happiness. What is it? We walk around striving for it, hoping for it, and looking for it in all the wrong places; but the truth is, most of us wouldn’t recognize happiness if it tackled us in broad daylight and held us down screaming: “I’m here, I’ve arrived, I am your happiness, see me, see me, see me.”
I know this one like I know the palm of my own hand.
I was a miserable child. From the outside I looked happy and carefree, but on the inside, for as far back as I can remember, I longed to be happy one day. Back then, happiness was simple in my child’s mind—it consisted of staying in one place for more than a year, escaping my mother’s harsh tongue and dodging creepy, lurking relatives. Even as a small child, I kept thinking: “one day I will be out of this house and on my own, and then I will be happy.”
The trouble is, that search and that anticipation lasted beyond leaving my childhood home. It followed me through college as I longed for graduation day and dreamt of escaping my studies—then and only then, could I be happy and free.
Of course once I entered the job force as a diligent nine to fiver, happiness awaited me after work and on the weekends. Happiness lurked about in my mind’s eye through anticipated vacations surely delivering happiness within those 14 days of no work bliss.
But did it?
Hell no. Happiness was never in any of those end point intellectual destinations.
Happiness did not arrive when I fell in love, got married and walked down that aisle. Happiness did not arrive along with my huge bonus checks and yuppy lifestyle. And happiness certainly did not arrive when I worked my ass off to fit into that bikini and take that trip to an exotic island.
Happiness never arrived because happiness wasn’t an outside job. It was, and is, an inside one. One that we are all entirely terrified of grabbing.
Grabbing the brass ring of happiness means that we hold still for a little while and look around at the life we’re living. Happiness lies in acceptance and gratitude for what is. Happiness lives in the smallest of small things: the scent of the morning grass when the sprinkler first hits lawn against early light; happiness hangs out on the little hairs of your dog’s ears back lit by sunlight, and happiness exists in the way a lover’s arm feels heavy across your back as you struggle to claim your side of the bed.
You see, happiness is so tiny and so small that it’s fleeting if you don’t take the time to see it.
I write about happiness on my blog, and teach 40 day workshops on rebooting yourself so you can live a life you love. My entire message to the world is about positivity and happiness; but the truth is, most of the positive spin we try to put on things is horse shit.
We live empty lives searching for happiness, while touting yoga mantras and positive affirmations. Truth be told, our habit of putting a positive spin on things is actually like frosting a cake made of crap with beautiful frosting. It’s a lie and it’s not a pathway leading to true happiness.
True happiness takes courage.
I’m talking the vulnerable, put yourself out there and look like a total fool sort of courage. It’s not easy. You’ve got to be willing to break from the norm, appear uncool and stop caring so damn much about what other people think of you.
We’ve all got to take the time to slow down, break from this crazy pace in life and take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for a text, listen to the birds without multi-tasking in our heads, and walk the dog without the cell phone while risking a missed call. We’ve got to shelve our egos and say yes to love, open ourselves up to being hurt beyond hurt again, and say hell yes to taking chances.
Yet most of us aren’t willing to take a small chance on anything.
We say we do, but we don’t. We say we will, but we won’t. You don’t. You know you don’t. You play it safe and color between the lines like a good girl or a good boy. You’re afraid to open up and be vulnerable and say to someone: “you know what, I adore you, I love you, I’m afraid you might leave me one day, and honestly I’m afraid period.”
We’re all afraid.
We’re afraid to relax and enjoy life and instead we work long hours to make that money to go on that two week vacation that in the end…ends. Then we’re left with pictures and memories that fade quickly and credit card debt that doesn’t.
If you would slow down and appreciate what you have daily, happiness might just poke her head out from behind your back and say: hey, here I am. If you would count what you’re grateful for on your fingers and toes every single morning and every single night, you might start to sense what happiness tastes like. When you realize that the fact the sky is blue, the sun rises everyday, and the beat of your pet’s heart are all miraculous, happiness might just start to let you catch her scent.
But instead, we find it easier to chase after happiness which is insanity. Chasing happiness is like trying to catch your own shadow.
It’s not possible because it’s part of you.
Happiness is inside of you. It’s not out there, it’s in there. But there’s no way to reach it unless you slow down, get quiet, and stop for a little while to notice.
They say that time doesn’t exist, and those same scientists say that when you break anything down, you’ll see a bunch of moving atoms that when you break those down, you’ll see nothing but space—empty space.
They say that there’s no out there either. This means that there’s no time, there’s nothing but empty space and there’s nothing out there. Kinda boggles your mind doesn’t it? Well, if that’s all true (and it is), there is no where out there to find happiness. Psst…because it’s inside of you.
Ask anyone dying of Cancer, or going through hell. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you’ve got nothing to grab onto, or hope for, there’s a crystal clear clarity that comes. In those moments, you realize well shit, the smallest of things make me pretty happy right now because that’s all I’ve got to hold on to. And in those moments of hell, you finally realize lo and behold, happiness is in the way my child’s hair smells after an afternoon nap, it’s in the feel of my dog’s paw on my leg and it’s in the way my partner’s eyes look when they say I love you.
It’s not out there after all. It’s right here in front of me.
But that’s only half of this troublesome equation.
Even when we do start to recognize happiness, we’re afraid to grab onto it and trust it. We’re afraid to actually relax into enjoying it because God forbid, what if we taste it and start to like it and then lose it? What if? What if? What the F– if?
Yeah, that’s the absolute deadliest of problems we all face in this quest for happiness. We’re more comfortable wishing for happiness than we are actually noticing it and enjoying it. Our entire society is based upon anticipation and hope. Striving for what’s next, what’s better and what’s around the corner.
All that anticipation and striving delivers us right into the next moment, but you know what?
Happiness is back there behind you, like a shadow, in the now moment. Happiness is the polar opposite of someday. It’s the complete antithesis of one day, and it’s never to be found in the when. Happiness is here now if you relax enough and have the balls to accept it.
Being grateful for the job you have and realizing that regardless of how you feel today, you’re in this job for a reason. At one point you wanted it. At one point you hoped for it.
That partner of yours? At one point you wanted them, but because you’re always searching for what’s better or what’s next, you don’t take the time to appreciate what you’ve got right there in front of you. And that body of yours? I’m betting if you lost your right leg tomorrow, you’d long to have that chubby little cellulite filled inner thigh back again, wouldn’t you?
So relax and let yourself realize right now: you have everything you really need right here.
If you relax and appreciate what you’ve got, chances are you might actually slip into a grateful moment; and if you’re really brave enough to totally relish that moment, happiness just might slip over you like a soft warm blanket of goodness—so good in fact that you slowly let your eyes close and let that sweet satisfaction of happiness embrace you for a little while
I’m not trying to catch feelings, I’m trying to build an empire.
That’s real talk.
I’m done with this low level, surface bullshit.
Yes, I’ve been broken, but it’s only taught me my capacity to love and I’ve grown and continue growing.
I’m learning to trust myself and others in ways that have been uncomfortable, but SO worth daring greatly.
“The only thing keeping you from being happy is your belief that you’re alone.”
~ Mad Men, Season 2; Episode 12
(Having SO much fun. 100% accurate representation)
When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly.
She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?
I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.
She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.
The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane.
When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.
In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.
This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.
She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.
I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.
My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside
the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.
On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.
On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.
She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.
Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.
Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.
But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy.
I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.
She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.
Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.
At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.
That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed – dead.
My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push thru with the divorce.– At least, in the eyes of our son— I’m a loving husband….
The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!
If you don’t share this story with someone, nothing will happen to you, but if you do, you just might save a marriage.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. ~ Matthew 19:6