“…people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will eat away your innate contentment.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Wow, that sounds about right. I think I’ve been downright negligent about my own happiness, after reading that. I am unbelievably guilty of having waited for happiness to fall out of the sky. The hilarious irony of that sort of illogic is that, well, are we ever really prepared for something to fall out of the sky? Besides, how big is happiness, and is it heavy? I don’t know if I could catch it if I was standing in precisely the right spot at the exact moment that it fell. For that matter, it might not even be mine. For all I know, I could be catching someone else’s happiness by mistake; someone who just happened to have their back turned for a second to tie their shoe. Seriously, should all the unhappy people just stand in an open field, with binoculars and catchers’ mitts? If there were a designated field where this were to take place, Starbuck’s would be there making a killing. Unfortunately, some of us wouldn’t even show up.
So, what’s going on in our heads? Why do we think happiness should just mysteriously come to us through no personal effort on our part? Is it magical thinking like “good things come to those who wait?” Maybe we don’t want to jinx it by actively acknowledging it and overtly pursuing it. Perhaps we think that it’s selfish or even arrogant to presume we can choose happiness. Or, maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that it doesn’t exist, or that it’s too fleeting to even make the effort to try for it. We’re too busy surviving to consider thriving. Sometimes we might even feel that we don’t deserve to be happy; that it’s just not meant to be for us. Well, the founding fathers of our country kind of felt like it was important. It’s in the Declaration of Independence, and who are we to disregard our right to the pursuit of happiness bestowed on us by the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson? He really meant this as a gift for all of us to enjoy. I mean, a lot of people died for this, and they still do to this day.
You and I and everyone here on this earth were meant to shine, to love, to explore, to grow, and to be happy. These are not passive things that happen to us; they are active pursuits that we must constantly be aware of and remain loyal to. But sometimes we forget. We don’t know how it happens or where it starts, but like the Blue Nile song says, there’s this “slow unwinding of it all.” Our eyes grow dim, our thoughts get dull, and our words sound hollow. We start to exist instead of live (here again we become passive instead of active). This downward spiral can feel so powerfully inescapable. Happiness can begin to seem like a dream we once had. That’s where counseling can help. Sometimes the only way we can get out of a crisis of this magnitude is with outside support. A counselor is able to help us find our way back to generating and choosing happiness. As the band They Might Be Giants lightheartedly reminds us, “Keep the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul (for those of you who are not fans, the nightlight is in the shape of a blue canary-I think it’s the blue bird of happiness).” Anyway, if it goes out, call us at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando. We can help you learn to remain internally lit.
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus
There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American Dream. -Archibald MacLeish
Fondest Regards. Kim
To Contact: TherapistKimMurphy@gmail.com