Happiness is not a destination
I don’t know if the winter weather has gone to my head (and my heart), but I have been thinking about the future. A lot. I have thought myself “into a tizzy,” as my Jewish mother and grandmothers would say.
For most of us, the future is a scary thing. The unknown. I sometimes picture it as this massive, dense, dark cloud in the distance that might pour down rain at any moment. It is overwhelming to think about the uncertainty of it – the endless possibilities or ways it could go. Lately I have an image of a dirt road with a fork at the end, except the fork has about 27,000 prongs. 27,000 choices.
This is what my brain is full of: What does my future look like? Why do I live in the frozen tundra of Chi-beria? What grad school programs should I apply to? What do I want to do when I grow up!? Should I move back home? Should I move further away from home? Should I move in with my boyfriend? Am I living up to my potential? Am I wasting time? Will I lose the friends I never see? BUT, after running through these questions over and over again in my mind, and thinking about the infinite choices that lie ahead, it seems I keep coming back to this: Am I happy? What will make me happy?
My perception and definition of happy and happiness have evolved drastically over the years, and will continue to do so. I know that. But for now, I am sitting with a Denis Waitley quote that a close friend introduced me to.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
A tall order, right? I mean, who lives every single minute with love, grace OR gratitude, let alone all three? But the thing about this definition of happiness that really sticks with me is that it is not a thing you can own or a place you can travel to.
I was thinking about my happiness as something completely influenced by external factors, things outside of myself. I was thinking that maybe a new environment would make me happy. A new city, job, apartment, routine, etc. But, what I have taken away from this quote is that although those external things are important, they are not the only things that impact and weigh on my happiness. I began to think about the difference between happiness as something you attain (that I was thinking I could attain by making new choices) and happiness as a way of existing. None of this is to say any one of us can be happy all of the time. Not even close. But what I am getting at is this balance between having and wanting, moving and sitting still, yearning for and letting be.
Working through this has been hard. This future-thinking has stirred up a lot of anxiety. Inspirational quotes have been helpful. Good advice, helpful too. But when it comes down to it, I would not have stood a chance at cracking this open without the experiences I have had and the tools I have learned at Rooted. I only know how to write about this (in a somewhat coherent blog post) because I took the time to do many emotional check-ins and I asked myself how I was feeling and why. I journaled about all of this – on multiple occasions when I was feeling really stressed and even when I wasn’t. Rooted has helped me get in touch with my feelings. It has helped me organize my thoughts. And it has been a place where I feel safe to work through and share it all.
I am still working, still moving back and forth from thinking about the future to trying to enjoy the present. I am feeling happy and overwhelmed and anxious and content and sad and a million other things. But I am accepting each of those feelings more and more.