Happiness, More Than a Serendipity?
By Cassady Spruiell
By Cassady Spruiell
To say that happiness isn’t my strong suit would be an understatement. For longer than I care to admit I thought happiness was simply the absence of active dislike. In my head if I could tolerate a situation that meant I was happy in it or as close to happiness as I could comprehend. When someone asks a kid to describe happiness they do it in relation to what makes them happy. However for years I would have summed it up as a lack of hate. While both of those ‘definitions’ are accurate in one way or another Happiness for me has always been a complicated topic. So I decided to look at what the definition of happiness actually is, which left me with “ happiness is defined a s the state of being happy”. Which truthfully is like describing blue as blue, not helpful. So I was left with - what is HAPPY? When you go back to the dictionary you get a few responses
1) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment, and
2) fortunate and convenient.
When I saw those definitions I can honestly understand how my mind translated happiness into a state of the absence of hate. None of these descriptions were what I needed when I was struggling with the concept of happiness on the most basic level. All I was left with was an amorphic understanding that happiness just is. Upon consideration I think that we often see happiness like a child, what makes me happy. The reality is that lots of things make me happy but I was instantly reminded of all the days that no matter what I did even if I enjoyed it I didn’t feel happy. Thus reiterating the idea that happiness is about more than just enjoyment. However, more than anything what stuck out to me was that upon reading the word happiness, some deep part of me still recoiled as if it wasn’t a safe topic.
My psyche pulled back to protect itself from something that people supposedly love and lean into daily. I could chalk it up to trauma and past experiences but I wanted to dive into that discomfort. Why does that word fill me with dread and a sense of heaviness?
For many years I scoffed at the idea of waking up happy. I found myself believing that no one wakes up in the morning mg excited for the day, rather they dread getting up and starting for work or school. I found myself turning to movies and TV where characters were run down and joked about hating life. Id think “See everyone hates life, my thoughts are normal”. This is just what growing up is like.
So if you are reading this saying waking up happy genuinely sounds fake, I get it . I was you. I wish there was some secret I could share with you; but happiness was and is something I have to work for. It is not my default setting. Going on medication to give my body some of the chemicals it seemed to refuse to make for me did do wonders. But even still I had to work on happiness. I didn’t actively hate everything which was genuinely a surprise but I still didn’t have sunshine shooting out of every Orifice.
Even now I have to stop the loop of negativity that my brain is so used to. I try everyday to be positive and grateful and happy but I don’t always succeed. Somedays I truly have to choose happiness. I chose it over fear off the future; over anger at a wrongdoing, even over sadness. I can’t even say I always succeed, many days I do my best and say I’ll continue to try my best tomorrow.
For a long time I have felt a sense of shame for not obtaining ‘happiness’. As if that somehow makes me a lesser person than those who exude joy. However, when I sit and think about what it means to be happy I don’t feel a giant heaviness anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever have that effortless happiness that spreads through a crowd. I may have to consciously choose happiness for the rest of my life, but I think happiness for me might be found in being okay with an imperfect sense of happy.