There are times I feel ready to explode from the stress of (fill in the blank) and before I can even get the words out my husband will say, "Are you just so trapped in happiness that you can't even stand it?"
Truthfully when he does that it drives me nuts. 😂 It's a diverting comment that gets under my skin because it has nothing to do with what I'm trying to talk to him about. But then again...does it?
I think I'm not the only one who keeps searching for this elusive trap of happiness. Most of the time I can never seem to really find it (at least not in a way where it stays with me for longer than a fleeting moment). But can anyone keep "happiness" longer than that?
America was founded with the belief that a basic human right is to be free enough to engage in the "pursuit of happiness." So that's what we all do, and yet seem to always be pursuing--like we don't know how to be happy even when we get what we thought we were looking for.
Most religious ideas of heaven seem to include the belief that once you get there you'll be in "a better place"; usually we translate that into "a happy place." But if we were in a realm where we see and understand more, and even where we may be allowed as angels to help the people we love on earth, wouldn't we have to keep pretty busy and wouldn't we be astounded with the depth of pain and suffering that exists on earth? Maybe there's "stress" even in heaven. Maybe the idea that never ending happiness as our end goal is the wrong focus. What if never ending happiness isn't supposed to be our end goal? Maybe it's something different and perhaps our ideas of Heaven are a projection of what we wish we had on earth but it's not necessarily the reality. Now don't get me wrong--I'm not going to be upset if never ending happiness is a reality of heaven. That would be great, and it's okay to hope for that! But I just feel like it's likely so much more complex than that. More complex than our black/white, heaven/hell, happy/sad ideas of a place most living people have never visited. I just feel like if God is all knowing and all feeling, then He sees it all, and He feels it all, the opposition in all things included--the joy the pain, the struggles, the triumphs, and I believe He walks the path with us, so I don't personally believe that even God feels never ending happiness only.
I recently read Brene Brown's, "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life." (Long title, I know!) The best nugget of all that I found in her book is that happiness is not the same feeling as joy or gratitude. I was sort of shocked when I read it, but totally relieved when I experienced it. I was having a dark and brooding difficult mama day, and I was anything but happy, but amid my unhappiness I recognized joy in something my kids did that was funny, and gratitude that I could lay sick in air conditioning as opposed to on the streets in 110 degrees. I literally was feeling joy, gratitude, and unhappiness all at once. My mind sort of exploded because I'd only ever believed that if I wasn't happy then I likely wasn't grateful enough. I also used to think joy was the same thing as happiness. But it's not. Interestingly enough, increased doses of joy and gratitude MAY lead to more happiness, but it's NOT A GUARANTEE!
I also recently read "Codependent No More" by Mealanie Beattie, and the most shocking bit of info I'm still chewing on is that "acceptance" is not the same thing as happiness. I have spent so much time in my life believing that if I could just make it to the acceptance stage of whatever grief cycle I was working on that I'd finally be happy. But that's not true. Acceptance does not equal happiness.
Now that I am letting go of my faulty ideas of what happiness is or looks like, and now that I'm letting go of trying to keep it as a constant companion, I am allowing myself to feel it when it comes and not shame myself into oblivion when it goes. I'm able to identify other experiences and feelings that need to be recognized and over all I am feeling more fulfilled and content even if I'm not necessarily trapped by happiness like I thought was the goal of my existence. It's almost like I have more happiness since I quit trying to chase it so desperately.
I guess for a long time I have been unwittingly trapped by happiness because I was trapped in unhappiness trying to find it. I was trapped by what I thought happiness should be or should look like or how long it should stay in my life, especially if I had also done x, y, and z to deserve it. I was unsatisfied because I was pursuing something I felt I should have obtained and should have learned how to keep it steady by now. But that's the devilish side of happiness--we get caught in the game trying to keep it and happiness elusively escapes our grasp every time, almost like it's alive and it's going to do what happiness feels like doing and it won't be controlled by any human. So I guess we must be grateful when it comes and we can be grateful even when it goes but that doesn't mean it's going to stay just because we tell it to.
Today I'm going to look at Happiness sort of like a long lost friend--we pick up where we left off last time and sometimes we have to say goodbye for a season, but just like a best friend, it won't stay away forever. When it goes, it eventually finds a way back. Til' next time, Happiness--I'll catch you on the flip side! 😘