I think about happiness a lot. It used to be a state which I pursued. What could be more meaningful in life than the pursuit of happiness?
I liked the idea that if you were happy, you could make other people around you happy. I thought that was a beautiful knock-on effect, and everybody would benefit.
Now, I’m not so sure.
I think that everything in life is about balance. I think that we humans need to feel all the emotions. If I stick to the dogged quest for happiness, what happens when shit happens, and I feel frustration or resentment or misery or fear? Does that mean I have failed? And then the danger is that I start beating myself up and the happiness recedes even further, disappearing into a smudge on the horizon.
I’m moving towards an idea of acceptance and awareness. I’m trying to teach myself to accept the crappy emotions, the uncomfortable emotions, the painful emotions. If I can step into those and process those and let those run through me, then I can make space for the lovely emotions, like hope and excitement and joy. And I think that I might run through the gamut in each day, and that’s kind of all right.
Happiness is an enchanting thing. I love to give it and I love to receive it. I want to make sure that I am open to happiness, that I don’t miss the moments of happiness when they fly by. But I’m not sure it’s an enduring or concrete state.
Maybe it’s a bit like what Dorothy Parker said about love. I can never remember the exact quote (and I should go and look it up, but it’s late and I’m tired), but it’s something like - love is a ball of mercury in the palm of the hand: clutch at it and it slips away; leave the fingers open and it stays.
Happiness feels to me the same. Leave the fingers open and let it rest, for a miraculous moment, in the hand, like a shy, visiting bird. Clutch at it, and it flies away. (And, I think, if you keep that welcoming hand open, the bird will return.)