What does it mean to be happy? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that happiness is “a state of well being and contentment.” So I guess the question is “What brings a person to a state of well being or contentment?”

I have said, on more than one occasion, all I want is to be happy. That is the truth, it is all I really want out of life, to be happy. I don’t want euphoria, or face splitting smiling happy…no, I want happy. Just your basic average run of the mill contentment. To wake up every morning and feel that all is okay. No, I do not need to jump out of bed every morning screaming “YIPPEE! IT’S ANOTHER BEEEEEEAUUUTIIIFULLLLL DAY!” But it would be nice to wake up, stretch like a cat, and smile at the alarm clock. You know, instead of wanting to rip its plug out of the wall and hurl through the window. I know you know what I’m talking about. Unless of course you are one of those people who do jump out of bed screaming “YIPPEE!” In which case somebody should beat you upside the head with a frying pan….okay I’m only joking 😉

So back to my question “what does bring someone to a state of well being and contentment?” And for you adult type people who are currently thinking of a certain physical act done primarily in the horizontal position…uh huh, I know some of you are thinking it so bring your mind out of the bedroom and back into the conversation.  What is it that we really need to be happy? Is happiness achieved by a big paycheck? A new car? A house of your very own? Electronic gadgets? New clothes, shoes, accessories? Or is it something less concrete, more abstract? The smell of freshly mowed grass, the feeling you get when winter is wrapping up and the first buds appear on the trees? The smile on your child’s face? The way your heart pounds after a good exercise? The feeling of pride when you’ve finished a tough task? Maybe a combination of concrete and abstract?

Last year when Justin died I didn’t think I would be able to survive living let alone think about being happy again. Then my Grandma died and then my Dad followed not too much later and happiness became a distant memory. Looking back on it I know there were times when I smiled and laughed and seemed like I was finding happiness again. In all honesty I was trying to play a part, be the person everyone wanted to see. Let’s face it people, no matter how much tragedy a person faces we expect them to be able to move on and smile again. This expectation is completely and utterly stupid. Yes I said it…STUPID. When we experience a sorrow or a tragedy we can’t just pick up the pieces and expect them to fit perfectly the way the did before the tragedy. No, we have to find a new way to put the pieces back together and no matter how we manage to fit them together some pieces will be missing and our lives will never look quite the same. Because of this we have to take our time and find a new normal and a new way to be happy. And for God sake don’t expect the person to be Ms. or Mr. Mary Sunshine! Again STUPID! In time we all find our own happiness and we all know that it doesn’t happen over night and we all know that no one is happy 24/7, 365 days a year. Sometimes people are angry or sad, jealous, excited, and yes just plain happy. Our moods can cycle around a lot during any given day.

Okay I am off of that tangent and back on track. So it has been 1 year and almost 9 months since Justin died and I am now figuring out what it is that makes me happy. This is something that I have never fully considered during my short life and so I find it interesting that I am thinking about it now. Of course the reason I am thinking about it now is that I can see that my life does not have to be all frowns and misery. Justin wouldn’t want that, Anastasia doesn’t need to see that, and quite honestly…I deserve to be happy. At first I felt a little selfish and guilty for wanting to be happy. I mean, how can I be happy when I no longer have my Justin, my light, my rock, the person who loved me unconditionally? So after I tortured myself with this guilt for about oh…WAY TOO LONG! I realized that by letting myself be happy I was honoring Justin, Grandma, Dad, and all the people who still stand around me today. I was also honoring myself and the life I have yet to live. So, I decided to take a journey into finding what makes me happy. I don’t have it all figured out yet, it is a process just like everything else in life. But here is what I have so far.

I feel happy when I am reading a book, fixing a meal for Anastasia, being able to drop Anastasia off at school and pick her up after school. I feel happy when I wear a new shirt that looks good on me. I feel happy in the Spring when the weather is still cool but you can feel the warmth from the sun, when the birds are building nests and the flowers and trees start budding. I feel happy in the fall when the leaves change colors and the air starts to smell like pumpkins and damp earth. I feel happy when I complete a DIY project(even if I have injured myself or it isn’t perfect;)). I feel happy when I smell coffee beans and citrus fruit and baked goods. I feel happy when I see jack-o-lanterns and turkeys(YUM!). I feel happy when I hear Anastasia laughing.

There is so much more that I know I will add to the list, but I think that’s good for now. I am slowly coming to realize that just because I have a rough day, hour, minute, whatever, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a happy person, it just means that I am human and as a human I have a multitude of different feelings that will present themselves at any given moment, sometimes even at inappropriate moments. There will be days when I don’t completely understand why I am feeling a certain way, but at least now I can recognize things that make me happy and that it is okay to be happy.

One last note. As people we do things to each other that is often horrific, rude, and unpardonable. If your list of what makes you happy is full of only people, you are setting yourself up to be hurt. You have to be brave enough to look outside of people for happiness. Open yourself up to the outside world, don’t close yourself into a little box. This doesn’t mean that you should hole up in your house and never talk to anyone again, it just means that you have to fill your life with both the concrete and the abstract so that when you do lose a person from your list(because it will happen whether we want it to or not) your foundation doesn’t crumble. I will always have my memories of Justin, Grandma, and Dad, but I will never have them again. If I based my happiness only on having those people in my life right here and now, I would not be able to be happy. But because I recognize that I will always have the memories and the other things and people that make me feel happy I can begin to smile again for real. Find the balance and smile as much as your heart will allow. Remember you are only as happy as you let yourself be(I think Abe Lincoln said that) 😉


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