Why is it that we learn this concept so young but forget it as we age?
Think about your childhood. Don’t you have tons of happy memories? Probably way more than your adult memories.
That’s not the norm with emotional concepts. We learn about love and sacrifice and hard work as we get older. But happiness… I feel like we lose sight as the years progress. At least I know I’ve lost my happy…
It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting on my front porch in the first cool morning of the year, signaling that autumn (and all things pumpkin) are not far away. I have a cup of coffee beside me and the hangover of my football team losing their biggest game in years last night.
My Tennessee Volunteers lost their home opener to Oklahoma, setting a record for blowing their largest home lead ever. Awesome. Knoxville had been hype leading up to this game. Hell even Lil Jon himself put on a show Friday night in K-Town.
The Vols opened the game on fire and built a 17-0 lead before eventually losing in overtime 24-31. Those 60+ minutes of game time featured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I was jumping off the couch and yelling with jubilation as we built our lead and then cursed and muttered with simultaneous disbelief and belief as we lost it.
As the second half wore on and the Vols continued to fail to put more points on the scoreboard, a sense of dread fell over Vol Nation until it mutated into realization that OMFG we could lose this game. Before Tennessee’s game-ending interception in double overtime I, like most of the Tennessee Faithful, had resigned ourselves to that fact that we would lose.
And then we lost.
Boom. Crash. Smack down back into the funk of reality.
I glance up from my iPad and somehow notice a speck of black against the piercing blue morning sky and a couple big fluffy white clouds. It was a hawk. Two hawks, actually. They were just up there doing hawk things, gliding and circling looking for food I assume.
I then had a bizarre thought; those hawks didn’t give a damn about what happened playing the foosball the night before. They were just… being. And while the hawks probably have no concept of what happiness is, they were probably at least content.
If I had to answer yes or no to the question “Am I happy?” I would probably answer no.
If I am being honest, I think I’ve been chasing happiness since the fourth grade.
Fourth grade is not focus point of the above statement; chasing happiness is.
I’ve come to the realization that happiness is not a chase. Happiness is acceptance of self.
I’m no psychologist (although some might call me a psycho) but I believe that I, like many who claim to be unhappy, are looking at happiness in the wrong way. We are trying to find the things that make us happy.
There is only one thing that can make us happy. There is only one thing that can make me happy. Me.
Outside forces can only increase or decrease our happiness. They cannot create or destroy it.
Football teams. Relationships. Children. Jobs. Food. Fran times. Clothes. Music. Punching that one person who really gets on your nerves in the face. These things, for many people myself included, are looked at as sources of happiness. I believe that is the wrong approach to take.
These things can bolster happiness, they can enhance life and punctuate normality with explosions of joy, but they are only a means to an end – they themselves are not the end (happiness).
Football teams lose. Relationships alter. Fran kicks your ass. Life is dynamic. Things change. We don’t have wings to spread and glide on.
Sitting on my porch brought a sense of peace and tranquility that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. And while it was short lived, it was the closest to truly happy I had been in a long time. I was at least content for those moments in time.
The only way I can be happy is to be the source of my own happiness. And if I may be so bold as to suggest it, I reckon that’s the only way you can be happy as well.
I’m not always going to be happy. In fact I’m sure there will be many times when I am less than happy.
My happiness will come from being comfortable with my daily decisions on how I live my life. Everything else is ancillary. That may sound cruel and totally bogus, but realistically I am the only thing I will truly have forever.
Now I’m not saying that I would be 100% happy if everything and everyone just up and left me. I’m saying I need to be at a point where I could survive it. I need to be at a point where not receiving a good morning text no longer ruins my day or where a tough Tennessee loss screws up my weekend.
I need to be at a point like those birds, soaring on the winds, taking the highs and lows, the peaks and the valleys, and just go with life. Because I am alive, and I should be happy for that.
Instead of chasing happiness, I’m going to try finding happiness and acknowledging happiness where it already exists. I’m a lucky guy. I’m lucky to have certain things and people in my life. I’ll continue to improve and be the best human I can be, and I think as long as I strive for that, there is no other option but to be happy.
I may fail Fran, but I’m gonna try to do it happily.
PS Go Vols.
Your Turn -> Umm… what’s up? It’s been a while so, spill it!