What do you think is the key to happiness? Is it being able to overcome difficult times? Is it a life filled with laughter? Maintaining a positive attitude for better or for worse? Having plenty of money or a big house and a fancy car?
To me, happiness is always a snapshot in time. When I think of “happiness,” photo moments run through my mind’s eye. I see my husband and I smiling into a camera on my 39th birthday. I remember wearing (ahem, fitting into) a beautiful gold dress my mother gave me. My hair was perfectly coiffed in an updo with a few softly curled whispies framing my face in that whimsical and romantic “good hair day” way I always wish for but seldom get.
Another snapshot rolls through my mind as I think of the car ride home with my abandoned companion, a Yorkie, left by the roadside, tossed and found; then lost and found, this time by me. I smile as my mind flashes back to the drive home with my new “designer,” “purse dog;” this silly creature who gets car sick and is more of a “tote dog” at 15 pounds or a “Porkie,” an even rarer “off brand” breed. :)
I don’t have to dig too deep to find many more snapshots – looking into my husband’s eyes, wet with tears, upon seeing our baby’s heart beat; my Dad’s smile and his signature, infectious laugh when he thinks something is really funny; holding my niece and singing with her; watching my nephew, intent upon building his Batman lego Bat Cave all in one day; having coffee with my husband and watching in complete awe as a stampede of mustangs ushers in our morning; singing in the car with my mom as we drive across the dessert landscapes of New Mexico. These memories are all snapshots – moments of happiness, seemingly suspended in time.
But as I write, it occurs to me: in the time it’s taken me to search the recesses of my brain for these memories, I have been experiencing joy. This feeling I call joy isn’t quite as evasive, as happiness, not quite as deliberate either. I planned for most of those “happy” moments. In fact, in some cases, lots of effort, money and fear of failure has been the foundation of these moments. But this joy I feel; it is unplanned, always accessible. It occurs to me as I write that I can make joy. I can manufacture it on demand, not like happiness which seems a careful recipe of luck, blessing, and being in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right things. In this way, happiness seems too precarious, too unpredictable. But joy, joy can be summoned. And if we are the sum of our life’s memories, then we can also be the creators of our life’s joy.
To me, happiness is an elusive and fleeting feeling, even though it’s exquisite and intense. Joy is a state of being. I believe I can manifest joy in my life by simply meditating on all the snapshots of happiness I have been given so far in this life. In fact, I don’t know any other way to be happy than that.
What do you think the “key to happiness” is? Maybe it’s different for everyone; in fact, it most likely is.
It makes me happy to think there are a million different roads leading to Happyville. So I’ll relish in that until joy springs in me. #