I wrote about a paradox around happiness a few weeks ago. I found I was subsequently asked “What does make you happy then?” At the time, my only answer was that it feels like the wrong question.
On reflection, maybe a better question to ask myself is “What am I doing to discover what makes me happy?”
For me, the hidden treasure is proving to be found in the digging rather than in the chest I might desperately hope to find. Any process of slow discovery will be full of happiness and confusion and disappointment, and it seems to me that the full range of emotion is what gives me wellbeing and a vivid sense of human-ness… along with a welcome lack of stress around achieving the happy part.
Focusing purely on happiness tends to lead me to short term measures of achieving a shallow, fleeting gratification (one reliable clue is whenever it involves paying for or consuming something). This is a quest for a monochrome of emotion which is bound to end up unfulfilling and numb, far from the intended rapture. As long as sadness and bewilderment are seen as bad things, there is little hope for a peaceful life.
So if it’s not about happiness, perhaps it’s about motion, hearty struggle, finding out about oneself without judgment, and experiencing and accepting the diversity of feeling that comes with it. I can’t slam the shutters, hide indoors and hope happiness filters in through the catflap. The door has to be open wide to allow the emotional air to circulate into every musty corner, or life will lack the oxygen to thrive.
Or better yet, exit the container entirely and head towards the source rather than wait for it to come to me.
One of the things I have only recently in life found to be reliably and delightfully true is that the universe always answers – the safety net always appears for genuine jumpers, even if the assistance appears weird and wonky, and very unlike the neat and shiny apparition I had imagined.
There is an army of Hairy Godmothers just waiting to be invited along.