“I know a lot of you haven’t noticed this, but I have, and I want it to change. I want all my friends to go back to their old happy selves. I miss their smiling faces.”
As I scrolled through my Instagram feed a few days ago, this quote from my friend’s inordinately long caption popped out at me. The caption itself was about happiness, particularly a decrease in happiness. My friend’s humble observation was that her friends seemed to be less happy than normal.
“We’re young, and we should be happy. Don’t let anyone or anything take that right from you. I hope everyone is happy right now because you deserve to be.”
She proceeded to offer support to anyone who was feeling down or depressed. Her words were heartfelt and touching, but nothing about happiness that I hadn’t observed before. Consequently, I didn’t expect them to stick with me for very long. But a few days later when the caption still lingered in the shadows of my mind, I came to the realization that perhaps it deserved a bit more attention.
Happiness. It seems so simple on the surface, but when it comes down to it, it’s a complicated subject. Delving deeper into the topic raises a myriad of questions and a certain aspect of controversy.
What exactly is happiness? Is it the same for every person? How much of a priority should it be? How do we achieve happiness? And the question that plagues my mind the most often, is happiness worth the fight?
I often reminisce on my early childhood with formidable envy of the carefree happiness I experienced. I view those memories through rose-colored glasses, perceiving them in a higher resolution than reality. But the verity of the matter remains that none of those memories were as untroubled and radiant as my mind leads me to believe.
In honest recollection, I can’t say for sure where my current happiness lies on the scale of happiness I’ve felt in my entire life. Anxious memories mingle within the bubbly and joyous memories I treasure so. While the early years of my life were unarguably less full of responsibility, I found a million other reasons to be discontent.
It’s shockingly effortless to focus on the negative aspects of everyday life. I have faced this struggle for fifteen years—this struggle of deciding whether it’s worthwhile to work for my happiness. My anxiety has rendered me, at times, incapable of living in the moment. I focus a disproportionate level of energy on worrying about the future.
Sadness and concern is an easier state of mind to achieve than happiness, and I tend to take the easy way out. Which is why I ask the question: is happiness worth the fight? Happiness is evidently a more enjoyable state of mind, but the energy it takes to get there pushes me past the point of exhaustion.
How could happiness result from a fight when they are two entirely different concepts? Happiness should be easy, yet it’s an unceasing struggle. Undoubtedly, it’s my goal; it always has been.
But that’s just it. It’s a goal.
True happiness is something I hope to experience in the future. It doesn’t seem like it can be an attainable thing in my present situation. I keep telling myself that if I can get past this hurdle, I can focus on my happiness. But that hurdle is constantly changing.
It’s a daunting project. It’s a stressful week. It’s the home stretch of a semester. It’s the next four years of my life. And what comes after that? When I think about my true happiness, I begin to spiral until it hits me: if I sit here waiting for happiness to find me, I will never really be happy.
And that means I have to fight for it. Now. I can’t keep putting it off, no matter how great I might be at procrastinating. I need to put work and effort into my happiness. I need to cultivate it, search for it, and find it in the darkest moments. And that seems ridiculous–even impossible. Especially considering I’m not even sure what true happiness looks like for me.
I can point out a few little simplicities that bring me moments of joy. Like writing something I’m passionate about when the words are flowing from me. Or watching a beautiful sunset accompanied by the feeling of utter awe. And for now, the best answer I can give to my endless questions about happiness is I guess I just have to find more moments like this.
I know very few things about happiness. I know that the discovery of true happiness is my biggest goal in life. And I know what little snippets of happiness feel like. It’s being unable to stop smiling. It’s realizing that there’s so much to live for, so much to look forward to. It’s inspiration and ambition.
I wish I could wrap up with a satisfying conclusion and advice on how to be happier. But, the best I can say is that I’m still figuring it out. I have so many unanswered questions, and I accumulate more every day.
I think that happiness might be just living in the beautiful moments without fear and anxiety about the future. And I guess I’ll have to learn how to get there. I’ll have to fight for it. And I think it might be worth it.