On being happy.
There is a common belief among humans, that in order to experience life in all its fullness, happiness is the way to go. If you ask 100 school children what they aspire to achieve by the time they’re 60, amongst the inevitable superheroes and pop star aspirations, most will mutually agree that happiness is what they will ultimately want.
But what even is happiness? To answer this, we need to consider all of the possibilities. Some will say that money is the answer, others will say a marriage and kids, some might argue that a stable and enjoyable career can provide this. As much as we’d all like to have these things, and as lucky as some are to already have achieved them, not everyone is going to have yet found their soul mate, nor will they even be old enough to have their dream job. In fact, the majority of people dealing with ‘happiness issues’, are among those who are still in school. With constant dips in the economy, money clearly cannot be seen as a long term safety net, as much temporary happiness as it may bring us. So what do we say for the single, jobless and moneyless youth of our society? Furthermore, what do we say for those who already have all of these things, but who are still not happy?
Life is a journey; one which I have always understood to have been a constant rollercoaster of emotions, experiences, and life lessons. To die happy, would be a great thing. To be able to laugh as you look over memories that you once cherished, to be able to look a loved one in the eye knowing they’ll always remember you, to be able to have some kind of security for your children once you’ve gone. But once again, not everyone is in the position to experience these kinds of circumstances. What about those who die young? Those who have suffered great illness, to those who have nothing but painful memories? These are all harsh but extremely valid realities for many humans. What do we say for those who have fallen victim to the ‘common cold of psychiatry’; depression? What about other forms of mental illness? The World Health Organisation states that 20% of our population, will at some point in their lives, suffer from some form of mental health issue. It’s as common as they come, and unfortunately, wrapping it up in golden thread isn’t going to cure it. For many, this isn’t a curable disease. There are no sudden quick fixes that can bring about the happiness they apparently long for.
Life does not come with a set of instructions. It does not come with a hot line number nor does it have a repair manual. There is no key that fits the lock of happiness, because ultimately, each person’s happiness is different to the next. Just as cherishing the good moments is extremely important, it does not mean that you should immediately eradicate everything else that has ever happened. Sometimes it’s good to forgive and forget, to let go of the past and to move on. But how do we know we should even do this? It’s from our negative experiences that we learn there is something else beyond the fence. There is a sweeter side to goodness that’ll we never fully taste unless we can understand the true bitterness that life can deal. There is a positive in every negative. Never forget that; A silver lining to all that is negative, to turn even one of the ugliest of situations into something beautiful.
And for me, that’s it. To be content, is to have everything, as well as nothing; to know that the weather is unpredictable, but also to accept that we can get through this storm. Rain may be undesirable, but it is also water, the source of all life. Without it, we cannot survive. Essentially, the stormy weather is just as important as the sunshine. We need both to see the beauty of the rainbow. It is through this perspective that I understand my own serenity. I’m not always going to feel at peace, but that’s okay. I’m not always going to be jumping for joy, but that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to know I can talk about this. Because my feelings, as up and down as they may be, are of utmost importance not just to me, but to all else who can hear my story. Some may strike lucky in life and have all of this provided on a golden platter, but the true hero is the one who can look inside of themselves, and whisper a song of hope to a troubled heart. To know that beyond death, there is life, and that there is always a time and place to experience love, peace and contentment.