Today is rainy, drizzly and cool. I love it. I noticed yesterday that the trees around my campus are manifesting color, though only tinges of red and orange appear now. It feels right, saying goodbye to summer, embracing the fall and all the challenges with it. It’s this thought of fall that got me thinking about happiness this morning.
As I trekked back to my parking structure after my Literary Theory class, I began reflecting on what makes me happy and why. The conclusion I came to was at once simple and confounding: I am not happy because circumstances have made me happy, but because I’ve had to earn it every day.
Yesterday was…not good. I don’t feel comfortable going into details, because it involves some professional issues that I am uncomfortable sharing on internet-space (granted, I could password-protect, but I prefer vagueness for now), but suffice it to say that I have faced less-than-ideal circumstances intermittently (but, really, who hasn’t?). But as I was telling a colleague, I am latching onto the happiness that I can find, and I choose to seek it out daily.
I try not to find happiness in material goods, but I am currently consuming a Jimmy John’s vegetarian sub and a peppermint latte. LOVE. That brings up the infamous Woolf quote that one cannot eat, sleep, or think well when one has not dined well, also. I believe that good eating brings happiness in that you feed your body, and thus your soul.
I also think of earning happiness when I think about my life with The Chancellor. Is living apart half the week ideal? Certainly not. But we take comfort and pleasure in our nightly talks, and the weekends are all the sweeter for having made time for each other and actively communicating our thoughts and concerns. I am glad to be with someone who supports and protects my dreams, and I am glad to be able to support and protect his. I know the sacrifice will pay off, because we are invested in a long-term plan that involves long-term happiness and greater stability in our life together.
Earning happiness has come through hardships, too. I’ve alluded to several, and as we move into the Christmas season, I’ll probably talk more about my mom’s experience with cancer. Facing uncertain future meant I had to hold on to the happiness that was present and never forget that it was out there. There were many nights I cried myself to sleep, but would pray for peace no matter the results. I had to learn what it meant to be happy beyond the circumstantial.
I haven’t discussed much about my spirituality, as I find it private and sacred. But happiness comes because I’ve asked God to let it be a part of my life. I ask for the grace to trust Him every day, and I am continually humbled at how He works in my life. Happiness is a gift, and I try to spread it around as much as possible.
Someone once told me back in high school, “You’re always so bubbly and happy.” It’s ironic, considering that I spent a majority of high school internally unhappy about circumstances within and beyond my control. It’s taken many years to realize that the choice was mine to make. Thus, I choose to be happy, and to earn it, no matter how sad, or unhappy life can be. There are definitely “down” days, and I accept them with the others. But my manifesto forces me to seek out the happiness that I can find, in whatever way possible.