Being a Warrior of Happiness

25 Jun

When I was a young girl my household was very tumultuous.  My parents fought a lot and at times it seemed like a fog of negativity would float through our house.  While I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling, I knew I didn’t want to dwell in the fog, and so I turned to books, especially fiction for escape.

I started out with The Baby-sitters Club, Anne of Green Gables and Betsy, Tacy and Tib; however, quickly I moved onto books about the Holocaust.

This shift was inspired by the Diary of Anne Frank.  Through her eyes I understood that I wasn’t the only little girl in the world who felt uncomfortable and powerless in their environment.  If Anne could fight to stay positive during persecution, I could stay positive through the fighting.

I inhaled book after book about people who overcame challenges outside of their control, but one day the horror of all the stories I was breathing in suddenly hit me.  It was the image of Nazi soldiers using a human skull for a soccer ball; it was then that I understood the ugliness that can exist in life.

Though, being young, deep within me was a belief in the goodness of people, and it was then that I made a promise to myself to be open to experiencing all of the life: the horror and the beauty, and to try to stay as hopeful and open as I did in that moment.

This unarticulated philosophy became my guide, and it’s the reason why I turned to my Dad at twelve years old and told him, “to try to find happiness in his unhappiness.”

Now, as an adult, I wonder at the innate wisdom of children; that children know that happiness is always possible and they know that happiness is one of their Rights.

Somewhere in the in-between of growing up this belief is often lost.  While many label it the loss of naivety, it can easily be labeled as wisdom’s loss.

This is why I believe it is our responsibility as adults, and even humans, is to define what happiness means for us and then peaceful fight for it if need be.

Life is challenging and outside of our control, and we’re ever-reminded of that every time a natural disaster strikes.  I also believe that we have structured our world in a way to make many of us indentured servants to the structures that we create; either constantly working toward paying off debts, or forced to do things that we have to – not necessarily what we always believe to be right for us.

Even happiness is often a concept we don’t take the time to define.  Our education tells us that this is something that we should strive for, and then makes salary or the material its marker.

Even our constitution tells us that this is something that we should pursue; however, I don’t think happiness is easily achieved.

While everyone will probably land on a different definition, I think happiness is a feeling that brings us energy and makes us believe we can create and make our wants, or what we believe, possible.  That it makes us feel expanded, joyous and whole.  It’s a feeling that rises up within when we feel loved, respected and safe.

Instead of striving toward the abstract concept, or looking at it as the opposite of unhappiness, I believe we should first define what that means for ourselves.  To be taught, as children, to ask questions like, “What makes me feel grateful and productive? What makes me laugh? What activities do I do that makes time fly by?”

It is here people can begin to take the abstract to the tangible and begin to structure their lives around what infuses them with joy.

For me, it’s stories and helping others: stories make life interesting for me, and help me connect; while helping others allows me the joy of watching others find theirs.

I believe happiness is a practice, and I work to not let life distract me too much so that I can put my energy toward activities that help me bring more of it into my life.   It doesn’t always come, and things outside of my control always happen, but I believe if I’m willing to fight for it that it’s something that I can always return to.

The reason that I’m sharing all of this is that I ask whoever is reading this to take a moment and connect back into their own inner wisdom, to think about happiness and wonder at all the ways that you can bring more of it into your life; whether its one less drink, or one less job or one less friend.

To remember that life exists in all the shades of grey that is realized in-between the black and white.  Unhappiness is inevitable.  You will fail, or be disappointed, or make a mistake, , but that’s only one brushstroke of the masterpiece that is the picture of your whole self, and all the colors together makes that piece whole.

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One Response to “Being a Warrior of Happiness”

  1. pauledgewater June 27, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    I relate. Great piece Sam!

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