It is one of life's biggest questions, "what does it mean to be happy?" How can I tell if I am happpy? How does one attain this state of being and why do I seek it so fervently? Every individual faces these questions at one point in their lives. In fact, I'm sure every individual faces these questions at multiple points in their lives. There are a million different books, articles, studies, and blog posts devoted to this very topic. Happiness. Can we attain it?
I struggle daily to answer these questions for myself. Am I happy? This question is incredibly deceiving. There are days that I feel happy. There are days that I feel as though I'm on Cloud 9. Days where I love my life, I love where I live, I love exploring all the beauty that surrounds me. Days where no matter what is thrown at me, my spirits remain high. But these days are more-often-than-not the exception.
It seems for every day that I feel completely fulfilled and "happy" I have 5 times as many days that I feel frustrated, lost and sad. Is something wrong with me? Am I a victim of genetics and this is simply a result of my chemical make-up? Am I destined to live a life that is always seeking and never satisfied?
My religious background has firmly planted in my head the idea that if I can't be happy, there is a problem within me. I am lacking something. Happiness, they say, is following Jesus. Happiness, they say, is trusting God. Happiness, they say, is living to glorify God and love people and read scripture and follow his commands and worship him in all I do. Still I am not happy.
Is it really that simple? Is it possible to love God and trust His plan and still not find happiness? Is there not a place for these other emotions as well? Can we not also glorify God in the midst of pain and loneliness and sadness? Are these seasons of emotion not valid and useful?
This post is not about the answers, I can't claim to have any of those. I find that the more I experience, the more I question. And the more I question, the more I feel. And I feel so much more than happy.
Sadness. Anger. Grace. Confusion. Focus. Love. Loneliness.
For every "good" emotion there is just as powerful of a "bad" emotion but what if none of these are "good" or "bad?" What if each is valuable in it's own time. Each of these emotions can bring about something good, something useful.
I wish this was the more common message taught in church. I am not happy and I believe that God accepts that, He accepts me. For too long, loneliness and sadness has brought me guilt and shame. I am not a happy person. I want happiness, I seek it, but it does not come naturally to me. It is not a switch I can turn on. I know many people who have that ability, it is one I envy but it is not me.
I am learning to be content with who I am. I hope that others will allow me to be that person and to feel whatever it is I may be feeling. Feeling is valuable. Feeling is powerful. Feeling is good.
I still want to be happy. I seek it daily in my life. But just because I haven't attained it yet, doesn't mean that I am lacking. I am so much more than happy, I am filled with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and questions that keep me seeking. They keep me searching and hoping and yearning for something more.