Happiness, as Defined by Me

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. -- Carl Jung

Last night a dear friend asked me if I was happy.

Usually I would have a clear, definitive answer for that: yes or no. But last night, for once, I didn’t really have an answer. All I could come up with was that I was at peace, and for now, that is good enough.

Today I decided to “introduce” Bubba to my lolo (okay, I do realize that kinda sounds weird but just go with me :-)) and so we got in the car and drove to the Manila Memorial and we played in the open area in front of Lolo’s grave for quite a bit. When Bubba was tired, I laid out my sarong and we just sat there by the shade of the tree nearby.

In the quiet, I found myself drifting to my innermost thoughts and once again, just letting myself be in that situation.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and I realized that I’m kind of beginning to get comfortable with it. For a long, long time, I used to fight like mad when I’d be in the quiet. In fact, I can barely stay in my room (which probably is what I can really call my haven, because it’s the one place that I can really call mine) without the television or the radio on.  I guess it’s because I’ve always feared the silence, because this is when my thoughts and insecurities hound me most.

So today I just let myself be in that quiet.

I was reminded of something I wrote a few days back when I was feeling very safe and settled. At that time it came so naturally for me to say yes, I was happy. Happy and content, should I say. The funny thing is, every time I think I’m happy and things are perfect, something reminds me to take it slow and to not take things for granted and to assume…and most importantly, it reminds me to honor and appreciate what I have.

It dawned on me that the reason why I keep struggling with whether I am happy or not is because of the preconceived notion I have of what happiness is. I used to think that to be happy means you’ve worked out all your issues and these no longer come to haunt you. In many ways, it means smooth sailing despite the storms that come your way. Being happy meant you were whole and that you were strong enough to face whatever comes your way.

But now I think I know better.

Being happy doesn’t mean nothing hurts you anymore. Being happy doesn’t mean that there will no longer be dark,  stormy nights that take away your bright sunshine and beautiful rainbows.  In the same manner, being happy doesn’t mean always, always feeling safe, secure and sure about yourself and things around you.

For all intents and purposes, I have grown to believe that being happy comes from being content and at peace with knowing that for every rainfall that may come, there is growth that begins.  It is knowing that you can weather the storm but not beat it. It comes from embracing the fact that things are not always what they seem and that there will always, always be two sides to every story, no matter what. And yes, these sides often are complete opposites of each other.

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