**Note from the author: This is the second short story topic in the series I am writing. There is absolutely no holding back, and readers will continue to get an inside look into my life. I plan on always keeping my writing personal, and something easy to relate to. These are topics about life, meant to make the reader question things. As a writer that is the most important thing- for my readers to relate to my writing, and constantly question/philosophize.
By- Traci Taylor
Live, Thrive, & Be Vulnerable series
Happiness is a spectrum and it ranges for each individual. Defining happiness isn’t simple, nor should it be. It can be found in the first cup of coffee, the sunset along the horizon, a lover’s touch, or in a parent’s laughter. Often it is forgotten that there is no limit to happiness, and sometimes that leads to an unrealistic expectation. Having those sort of expectations are what bring on unwanted sadness in life.
Something to keep in mind is to always hold standards high, but expectations low. That way life will end up bringing more surprises than disappointments. Remaining happy is harder than a lot of people are aware of, especially if depression is a factor. The struggle to simply get out of bed can seem exhausting, but a forty minute shower can seem blissful for anyone who is depressed. This is again why I cannot stress enough that happiness is a spectrum and it is not as simply defined as people believe.
There is no correct answer on how to search out this happiness. One thing to absolutely avoid is, “putting all over your eggs in one basket” when it comes to being happy. That is a cliché I once despised, but now realize how relevant it is in the matter of contentment.
Never let a single person or thing be the reason for the smile on your face. Be sure to be your own reason to smile before someone else takes that over. Always remember that self-love is the foundation to happiness. Finding love from within is the first step in finding joy in every moment.
Being aware that loving who you are is the key to happiness is not something that comes easily in life. I don’t mean fooling everyone around you into believing you are happy either. Smiling on the outside does not change how you are feeling on the inside. Gratitude for the world that is surrounding you, and love for the person you are as an individual is the first step.
Inappropriate ways of defining happiness exist too. For awhile being naïve and a drunk were my two worst enemies that were a blockade to my own happiness. Self love was not something I even considered. Instead any emotion other than a brief laugh was numbed out by alcohol. Getting sober opened my eyes to discovering the foundation of eternal happiness which ended up being as simple as learning to love the person I am.
This was in no way a discovery of spirituality or faith. My path was my own and it was the journey of learning more about my personality that gave me appreciation to be in existence. It was a moment after I had left therapy, looking up into the beautiful foliage of autumn; I thought to myself “So, this is what loving yourself feels like”. Never had I felt more alive.
All of life just feels bolder after discovering the true emotion of happiness. It’s indescribable, except to be told in certain little moments of life that surround us daily. Whenever I am walking down the city streets and look towards the blue sky filled with tall, beautiful buildings I know that is what happiness feels like. No longer is a good day the sight of a curved wine glass or bottle of Jack. Those were more like my mirages of a great life, but really it was poisonous.
I used to be guilty of putting others happiness before my own, and I know I am not alone in that. Sometimes I think that had a lot to do with aiding my depression, and alcohol problem. My unhappiness was due to ignoring what would make me feel better, and focus too much on others instead. This was a huge issue; after all it is hard to really help anyone when you are unhappy yourself. Satisfying others at the risk of you becoming miserable is not the solution. Be sure to be independently happy first and foremost.
Unhealthy friendships and relationships can be emotionally draining. At some point people remain in our lives because they have already been there for so long. Personally, before sobriety I was petrified of change. Regardless of how crappy certain people made me feel on a daily basis, I couldn’t imagine a life without them. It almost becomes routine to keep people in our lives based upon how many years they have been around. Keeping friends or loved ones near that negatively impact how you feel is unacceptable. Learning to let go is another key to finding happiness in life.
When I moved to the city my life was all about change, and I was absolutely miserable. I was in a relationship that was short lived, and neither of us was remotely happy. It was the kind of co-dependent relationship that existed out of loneliness. I had a couple of good friends from my hometown that I knew, but other than that I was alone in the city.
The day I finally landed my first lousy restaurant job in Philly, I only stayed for a month (Philly has sent me on a whirlwind of interesting restaurant jobs, but that’s another story). It was, still to this day, one of the most dreadful experiences. Combined with everything else going on, it did not help my depression one bit. I quit that job, got out of the relationship, and figured I finally would be happy. I was wrong. These things were only a grain of salt to the bigger problems like: lack of self love, alcohol addiction, overall depression, and toxic friendships.
I was completely unaware that I was on the exact life path that I was destined to be on. There were always moments where I would question my decision on moving to Philadelphia, but then I would take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Since I have moved here I have lost connections with people, gained lifelong solid (for once healthy) friendships, and most importantly finally discovered how to love myself. It is in the city of love that I found happiness in the smallest, yet largest of ways.
Life is a journey, much like happiness. There are plenty of trials and errors before any sort of perfection can come about. I have always been a dreamer, and I still consider myself as such. Perhaps my views may be too optimistic for others, but what good is life if the only outlook someone has is waiting for things to fall apart instead of enjoying the moments that surround them. It is impossible to be a cynic when you discover self love, because ultimately happiness begins within and not without. Watch the streets glisten after the rain stops, remember the smell of an old book, observe the seasons as they change, lend a shoulder for a friend who has lent you theirs, and have gratitude for all of life’s moments. That is indeed happiness.