We’ve all heard the quote “Happiness is key” or “happiness is the key to success” or “happiness is the key to life”. We’re taught that happiness is the key. It’s the answer. When we’re feeling lost, it’s the thing we all search for and hope to find. But what if I told you that happiness is actually the LOCK and not the KEY?
Happiness is defined as “feeling or showing pleasure and contentment” which means that true happiness is a state of being. It’s an emotion. It’s something you feel. You can look in every crevice of this big beautiful world and you will never find happiness no matter how hard you look because it’s not tangible. It’s something that YOU create on your own. You make it happen. It has absolutely nothing to do with external conditions but rather your inner state of being. Yes, outward conditions such as the loss of a loved one or something terrible happening in your life can affect your ability to create and feel that happiness, but external conditions will never bring (or take away) from true happiness. It’s something you choose.
I volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in college as a Wish Volunteer who helped families and children decide on what they want their one wish to be. I remember going to a little girls’ house who was five years old, battling cancer, and had no hair on her head. Her wish was to go to Disneyworld and I was there that day to start the paperwork and get the ball rolling on granting this wish. I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have never met a happier little girl or family in my life. This little girl was SO excited to meet Minnie, her parents were beyond grateful for the opportunity, and in my short time there I could tell that this family truly lived life to the fullest. This family and little girl have been through more things in this life that any family should ever go through and yet they were some of the happiest people I have ever met. It was radiant and contagious. How easy would it be to let the shitty hand they’ve been dealt in life define them? SO EASY. I can’t imagine my son having cancer. I can’t imagine going through that and still walking out with a smile on my face talking about Minnie and plane rides and crying HAPPY tears for simply being GRATEFUL. I’m sorry, what? Your child has cancer and you are hugging me and telling me you’re GRATEFUL? Talk about an eye-opening, punch in the gut, feeling.
My point is that some people who seem to have everything in life; cars, money, mansions, etc, are some of the most unhappy people you will ever meet. And some people who have nothing but the clothes on their back and shitty life circumstances are some of the happiest souls. That’s enough proof to me to recognize that true happiness is something we choose and create ourselves on a daily basis. I understand that mental illness and a lot of other factors can effect this reasoning, but without thinking too hard about it or taking every single factor like that into consideration, it’s hard not to agree that happiness is something we create.
So HOW do we CREATE happiness? Well I think that answer is different to everyone. What makes you happy might not bring me any happiness at all. But I can say this; since we’ve already established that happiness is the lock and you are the key, you need to be the best version of yourself to unlock that happiness door.
I feel like I am the best version of myself when I am being a good wife, mother, daughter, friend, aunt, etc. I feel like I am the best version of myself when I go to church every week, pray every day, and keep God close. I am the best I can be when I am productive at work. I feel good when I travel and have new experiences and don’t allow myself to get too cooped up inside. So after establishing what makes you feel like the best version of yourself, do something that acts upon that. I said I feel good when I am a good wife. So, naturally, surprising my husband with something would probably make me feel happy. Spending quality time with him, making him laugh, cooking him dinner, all things I could do that would make me feel like a good wife, which would make me FEEL HAPPY. Being a good mother is definitely something I need to be to feel like the best version of myself. What is one thing I could do that would help me do that today? I could put my phone away when I am with my son and truly live in the moment with him while playing or reading a book. Boom, just got a little closer to feeling happy. I am my best version of myself when I am productive at work. I could spend a little less time talking to my work bff (love you Ash) and a little more time completing a hard project.
WHATEVER IT IS that makes you feel like the best version of yourself, do one small thing that relates to that subject every single day. Happiness isn’t going to come to you, and if it does, it’s going to be fleeting. Lasting happiness is something you choose to create every single day. Yes, it’s harder for some people than it is others, especially taking into consideration the life hand God has dealt you, but nonetheless, it is achievable by small everyday acts that you make happen. Think of each little act as one more turn of the key unlocking that locked door.