“I feel my best when I am happy.” – Winona Ryder
I’ve had a lot of drastic changes in my life over the last couple of years. As a result, I’ve been asked quite a few times whether or not I am happy.
Am I happy?
Good question… and how does one answer it?
I look back over my life and the times that stand out the most are the difficult ones. Marital problems, financial problems, health problems, parenting problems… a lifetime, it seems, of problems. Currently, I continue to face challenges and problems daily. Whether it’s slow business, relationship or parenting stress, holiday stress, etc., challenges and problems still exist.
I know I’m alone in this, right?
Problems will never go away, of course; they’ll only change. So, basing my happiness on the existence of problems or challenges in my life seems to be a guaranteed way to ensure I don’t feel happy.
Basing my happiness on the good times seems rather logical, then. The problem is, I can’t really remember the good times as well as I can the difficult times. Have I lived a life devoid of enjoyment? Of course not. But, I don’t really remember the times I felt happy or when everything just “went my way”. I know they existed and I can historically recall them, but I don’t seem to connect with them on the level at which I connect with the difficult times.
So, I can’t base my happiness on my difficult times… or on my good times. On what, then, should I base my happiness?
I think the answer is that happiness isn’t really what I’m looking for. Weird, huh?
What I need is joy, and I fear I’ve lost that over the years.
I believe happiness and joy are two different things. In my mind, happiness is the pleasure and emotion I feel during an enjoyable experience or period of time. Happiness is how I feel when good things happen to me and around me.
Joy, I believe, is something all-together different. Where happiness is dependent upon the circumstances which surround me, joy is internal and impacts my character, personality and – believe it or not – my happiness.
Where, then, do I find joy? If my circumstances will not bring about joy, then I must somehow find joy at a source which is independent of my circumstances and then allow that joy to impact my reaction to the circumstances in which I seem to find myself.
I’m not the first person to face this dilemma, of course. And I’m not the first person to ask these questions.
I’m definitely not the first person to propose a solution, either… but, I’ll attempt to do that next week.