I wouldn’t describe myself as a happy person. I can’t remember a time in my life that I think of as a “happy” time.
There have been fun times. Pleasurable times. Lovely times. Rarely happy times.
When I think of what I define as “happiness” — complete bliss, easy, meets and exceeds my expectations — nothing in my life has met that description.
I’d describe my life as forty years of frustrated desire. Nothing blissful, easy, or fulfilling about frustrated desire. I’ve experienced endless wanting. Wanting more, wanting to be better, wanting things to change, for things to last, and for things to come without working so hard for it.
There’s always something missing and I’ve come up with a million things to want to fill up the space.
Here’s my happiness formula: I will be happy when I get what I want. I rarely get what I want therefore I am rarely happy.
But maybe happiness isn’t as elusive as I think it is. Maybe my formula for happiness is all wrong. Maybe I’ve been happy all along. Maybe my frustrated desire is happiness.
Author Lionel Shriver* is the one who got me rethinking happiness after reading an article she wrote for The Guardian, “I Was Poor but I Was Happy”:
What if contentment isn’t a state, a place, an emotional location that so many of us will never feel we’ve reached? What if instead of this process of trying to get there, this trudging towards the distant light, this often frustrated battling from Point A to Point B, only to find that Point B is fraught with just as much travail and turmoil and sorrow as A, so we have to keep slogging towards Point C … What if that whole ceaseless cycle of exertion and exasperation, of failure, of try-try-and-try-again, is happiness?
…happiness isn’t getting something, but wanting something. It’s having appetite, being filled with desire.
Hmmm…have I been frustrated not because I haven’t gotten what I want but was wrong about what I wanted? I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Happiness is in the desire, not fulfilling one’s desire.
I love these kaleidoscopic shifts, these new ways of thinking that make you realize you have everything and are everything.
No positive affirmations to repeat. No need to believe in The Law of Attraction. Just see things clearly.
If you want and care deeply, you can be happy. And I do want and care deeply.
It’s such a relief.
*I highly recommend Shriver’s book We Need To Talk About Kevin. It’s a page turner like Gone Girl, but better.