I was recently at an event at my local art museum, the Speed Art Museum, and I ran into a friend who I haven’t seen in a while and out of the blue he asked me, “Are you happy?”
For some reason, I was taken back by the question, but I immediately said, “YES!” Then I responded with all the usual comings and goings of my life. I finished by saying, “Life is good” and then I went on with my evening—connecting with friends and enjoying the art.
But when I got home that evening, for some reason that question was stuck in my mind, “Am I happy? Am I truly happy? And what does that even mean?” So, the next morning, I took a deep dive in my journal, exploring the questions and looking at how happy I am in the core life areas I cover with my clients.
I realized I was fulfilled in most life areas such as making my home more beautiful, spending time with family and friends, engaging in my creative pursuits, having fun dating again, planning my travels, honoring my health, and loving my work—especially coaching my amazing clients, creating inspirational speeches, and writing on occasion.
I was so immensely grateful and thought about how blessed I truly am.
But then, the gremlins showed up and I started thinking about what’s missing… the basement is still not cleaned out; I don’t see my friends and family enough; I stress about dating and if I’ll ever find my right match; I still have a few extra winter pounds that haven’t yet fallen off; I want to be busier in my work; and I sometimes feel the loneliness that comes from living alone… they were the exact same life areas that only moments before I felt so much joy about!
And suddenly I realized…
Happiness is not a state of being; it’s not a goal to reach or something to attain and hold on to.
And although the dictionary defines happiness as “the quality or state of being happy,” to me, happiness is made up of the delightful moments in life that feel easy, exhilarating, peaceful, joyful, connected, playful, soulful, passionate, and even spiritual. You might have two to three of these per day or twenty to thirty per day, depending on what you see and how you feel.
So I ask you: “What lights you up?”
For me, it’s a cup of tea in my bed every morning; a great Pilates workout; flower arranging; the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings; a recent Earth, Wind & Fire concert (a long-time favorite band); helping my elderly parents from afar; lunches and dinners out; long walks either by myself or with friends; coaching my clients; spiritual connections; an art opening; my heightened intuition; good energy; traveling somewhere new; the perfect outfit for a date; and surprise endings of a great book.
As Mike Dooley often says, “I get to” do these things…
Happiness is the sum accumulation of the choices I make all day long. From the big decisions to the small encounters, I am deeply grateful and am present for everything in my life, even the tough stuff.
My contentment comes from the way I interact with myself and others, making choices that make me feel good, believing in unlimited possibilities, aligning my actions with the things I value, and thinking the thoughts that match my deepest desires to create my reality.
And even when the challenges come along, I know that I can find grace for myself and understand that this is part of the exquisite journey of life. Afterall, how would we truly know joy without struggle? Easy without hard? Happy without sad?
I hope that you are living your most blissful life and noticing your joyful moments as well. If not, here are some tips on how to cultivate more happiness in your life:
- Know and live your values.
- Capture the beauty around you.
- Find gratitude in the chaos and uncertainty.
- Connect with someone you love.
- Be passionate and alive.
- Do the things you want to do, not should do.
- Be quiet and listen to your heart.
- Decide to be happy.
So, yes, the answer to my friend’s question is “Yes, I am happy.” While I still long for certain things in my life, and expect them to arrive, I choose to be happy along the way. I hope you will too.