Are you happy?
A friend recently asked me if what I currently have is what I wanted. My reply was that she asked me the wrong question. The question that should have been asked is — am I happy?
She looked at me puzzled and somewhat surprised. Wouldn’t having the things I want make me happy?
I confidently told her no. Not really.
What I want is rooted in material things and material things fade over time. After more than quarter of a century chasing for the things I want, I find that I’m always jumping to the next thing without really appreciating or savoring my successes. The chase made me feel inadequate and never quite enough.
I then threw my friend the question — what is happiness? She couldn’t quite answer it.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness is one of those words I understand the meaning of but not really at the same time.
Happiness is a state that is fleeting, its intensity and length of experience often changes based on the series of events that occurs before, during and after. Chasing that moment is the thing that keeps me hopeful of the elation ‘happiness’ is supposed to bring but upon reaching that state, it may not be what was originally expected.
Unhappiness occurs when reality does not meet up with my version of what things should be. The absence of unhappiness is happiness itself. So in order to prevent unhappiness, I decided to do what was in my power to do and that is discard expectations and wants.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still things I want but I don’t pursue them in the same manner that I used to. I no longer link those wants as necessary to me being happy. When I managed to properly connect that mental link, I began to feel free — free from self imposed pressure to achieve, free from expectations, free from versions of reality that is not my actual reality.
At the end of my existential speech, my friend looked at me as if I had just given her the answer 42.
And perhaps I did.