As I age, I have come to realize that there are actually two kinds of happiness. For most of my life (except during times of intense stress or difficulty), one would have thought that I was a happy person. And I was, externally happy. My wife has always made me happy. Our children have always (principally) made me happy. Friends and friendships have made me happy. My family, usually, made me happy. Great experiences made me happy. Music made me happy. Sports, until I realized the hopelessness of it where I live (although that is changing) and with whom I root for, made me happy. A good meal made me happy. A sunny day made me happy. You get the point. And these things all still make me happy.
The key word here is “made”, made me happy. External stimuli. Things that bring joy INTO our lives. What I didn’t realize, what I hadn’t experienced, what appears obvious but is not, is that one needs to find that place where they ARE happy. Inside. Regardless of the day, situation, weather, happy with themselves. Happy with who they are.
And that finally happened back in October 2014 when I finally admitted who and what I have always been. Then I went about accepting it, figuring out what it all meant, getting my wife’s approval and building myself into someone who could proudly go about her business in the world. Being happy inside made me a better person, a better person to be around, reshaped my world view. The things that generally annoyed me no longer do. Sure, I am far from perfect (very, very far), I don’t float around on a cloud all day. But my days generally are good, not depending on someone or something making them good.
That’s the place we all need to get to. How? Damned if I know. It only took me the bulk of my life to figure that out. But it’s there, out there somewhere, for everyone. Many never find it or circumstances make it difficult or impossible. But it does exist. This blog has helped as it has forced an introspection that I don’t naturally have. I am a bulldozer, plowing through the responsibilities for the day, generally not looking too far out into the distance or considering the big picture. That has made me who I am and in many circumstances, caused me problems as I was blind to road blocks out in front of me.
Recent events have underscored for me what is most important, what makes me happy. Qualifying for eligibility to run the Boston Marathon made me extremely proud, very happy. It was sort of an out-of-body experience as I thought I could do it, maybe…. I did do it! The deterioration of my father, dealing with the practicalities of everything that needed to be done, making sure my parents had what they needed, gave me an appreciation for the gifts I have been given. It gave me a deeper understanding of what it is to love, what it is to be loved. What a gift love is and how it’s the only solution for society in the big picture.
Happiness. Look for it. God bless you if you can find it. I did, I believe, and will hold on to it as long as I am able. Once you get there, you have to work very hard to stay there. Challenges and struggles will continue, but my ability to fight through them and find the silver lining is now firmly in place. My outlook is one of optimism, despite the negativity so prevalent, laying heavily over our world.