I've never been a particularly happy person. In fact, I'm pretty sure I popped out of the womb somewhat disappointed, unleashing on my family a child characterized by constant dissatisfaction. At the moment of my birth, I was like a she-bear asleep in middle of a deeply satisfying dream and then rudely awoken by life knocking on the door. I came out of my primordial slumber like a raging goddess, angry for having been awoken. If I had a theme song for my childhood, it would have been, "This place sucks, when can I go back to sleep?"
Happy didn't seem like an option in my head. Happy is a chemical that I trained my body to experience, because I was emotionally blind. From inside, I didn't even know what happy felt like. Does that sound weird? With the amount of anti-depressants and mind-altering drugs Americans have been popping, I'm guessing that the feeling of happiness is something elusive for most of us.
Now for me, general all around happiness feels more like contentment. I can still feel sadness, confusion, grief, helplessness, etc. and also be content at the same time. They aren't mutually exclusive anymore. I'm wondering if this split might actually be part of our collective unhappiness problem. As Americans, we seem to strive for a state of perpetual happiness that is exempt from other painful emotions. I'm learning they go hand and hand like best friends. Happy within the suffering -- a unending love that is ever present and not attached to anything or any outcomes.
For the first time in my life, I can say that I feel truly happy, and I'm not just faking it and putting on a brave face. I don't have the best job, I don't have a lot of money, I don't have any deeply connected relationships, I don't always like how I look, and I don't even feel like I'm a particularly thoughtful and caring person all the time. I can see that much of who I am and what I think is deeply troubling. However, somewhere within all those outside expectations, which don't seem all that important anymore, I feel a deep contentment with all of it. Like a project that fell apart in my hands, and I don't run away from it but just sit and accept it in all it's tragic splendor for what it has become.
I'm sure there are many ways to arrive at this place of contentment. Each to his or her own path. I came to happiness through language. The discovery of my internal language of feelings and needs by reading and learning from Marshall Rosenberg's book Non-Violent Communication was the catalyst for many other healing choices such as yoga, meditation, singing, dancing, writing, and making jewelry. Learning to develop my internal vocabulary of feelings and needs was the starting point for discovering the languages of my body and soul that had a profound healing affect on me and has brought me to a place of contentment.
May you find the path that brings you happiness and peace :)