I don’t want anyone to freak out or anything here, but I think I may have found happiness. I know, quick! Bottle it! Sell it! Spray it on children! Spray it on Tories! Dunk Trump in a pool of the stuff and just vacuum pack him in there like a little carrot.
I’m not even sure how it happened. I’d kind of written this year off as a super-stressful, get job/sell house/reclaim financial freedom shitstorm that needed to be put to bed before I could climb aboard the happy train and boogie. And yes, it has been stressful, but there’s a lightness in my tread and a contentment running through my veins like butterscotch that I hadn’t expected.
When I was younger I didn’t have a clue what real happiness was. I thought it was all the crap they sell you: Holidays! Shoes! Mascara! Your Best Hair Ever! How To Tone Up That Bit Of Your Body You Totally Didn’t Think You Had to Worry About! I thought it was skinny pins and flawless skin and buying stuff until it’s coming out of your ears, nose and eyeballs.
As I got older it became all about finding that ‘dream’ job, home or man. I was skittish in work and love, lurching from job to job and man to man with a list of requirements as long as my elbow. Happiness was forever a destination and I was just a tick off a list away from claiming it as my own.
So, what does happiness look like for me?
Well, being able to pay the bills, obviously. A job that’s stretching and worthwhile. Dirty, sweaty workouts that hurt like hell but leave me high as a kite. Writing. Writing to unscramble a knotty head at the end of a tough day or to soak into a long weekend.
Sharing in the happiness of friends and family: One of my friends has fallen in love recently for the first time in 31 years. She came out to me a few years ago and apart from the briefest shiver of a flirtation, has remained single ever since. “I don’t believe in love,” she’d grump at me like a sour cherry. Then, about 6 months ago she met a lovely woman and ever-so-softly let her in. Hearing her talk about her girlfriend, her voice ripe with love and pride, gives me enormous happiness.
Flowers, dammit, I like flowers. I buy myself flowers every week. Nothing fancy, daffs if they’re sprightly or sunflowers or gladioli or sometimes a spray of peach roses if I’m feeling a bit la-di-dah. I love waking up in the morning, the sun speckling through my curtains to see them grinning at me from my chest of drawers.
Understanding that part of being happy is being unhappy and you can’t have one without the other. Fallow periods help you to appreciate when your landscape is brimming with wildflowers. They’re not something to battle endlessly (unless of course life is one long fallow period, in which case – battle hard, friend). Know they will end. Muddle through.
And that’s it: financial security, meaningful work, a healthy body, deep connections, a passion all my own, accepting life’s inevitable bad times which as much grace and strength as I can muster – and a soupçon of romance.
As Gautama Buddah said:
“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.”
And don’t it make you feel good.
ps. As I was writing this, 59 people were killed in a shooting in Las Vegas, which makes this the 273rd mass shooting in the US in 2017. I wanted to add my deep condolences and compassion to the outpouring of love from across the globe.
There, but for the grace of America’s gun laws.