Is happiness real? I have probably not thought much about this in my first 35 years of life. I just assumed everyone could be happy. I thought I was happy and I blocked anything that disturbed that image from entering my consciousness. But over the last few years I have spent more time than I would like thinking on this very question.
I don’t know that I really have an answer for you either. I think back to all those years and I had a lot of bad things happen to me but I was generally happy. I was the guy that everyone could come to if they wanted to be picked up. My sense of humor never left. If I was having a bad day, I could just laugh it off. If someone else was having a bad day I could brighten it by making them laugh or feel important. I was just happy. Did I have issues within my life? Who doesn’t? But I still was able to go about everything with a smile on my face and a joke on my tongue. Then that person was buried deep inside of myself.
I don’t know when it happened or what caused it but at some point I no longer had the smile. I no longer was that guy who was constantly the bright spot in peoples life. In fact I was working hard not to be in anyone’s life. Was I happy? I don’t really know because for the most part things had not changed too much. There were little things that were building and maybe that just pushed everything past the tipping point, but I struggle to believe that can happen. So where did my happiness go? If happiness is real wouldn’t it have to go somewhere? If it is real you would think that I would need to have had something happen that took my happiness away. I would needed to have been in an environment that was devoid of happiness and it just sucked mine out. But I was not in that environment and I cannot say that any one thing really happened that made me unhappy that wasn’t already there in my life.
So if it can just disappear without any cause then is it real? When someone gets sad often they have a reason, their fish died, they failed the course they needed to graduate, a favorite TV show was cancelled, who knows what the reason but usually there is a reason. Is this the same for happiness? I mean I was generally a happy person but there was no real reason I was that way. I just was. I grew up in such a crappy environment you would think that I would have the worst outlook on life but I really didn’t. I just always knew that I would not be like that. I got so much parenting advice from my family, even general advice on life. I just think what would my family do and then I don’t do that and it usually works our pretty good. So if I had a rough environment then why was I happy? Why was I happy for so long, to all of a sudden have it disappear? The only thing I can come up with is that it was not real to begin with. Instead what I took for happiness may really have just been my outlook on life. I believed that I could make it through anything. I could always make things better just with a little more work, a little more effort, a few more jokes. But maybe I realized this is it. Maybe my outlook changed and therefore so did my view on life. Instead of it being positive, what I took for happiness, it changed to complacency or even negativity. What I then had was a sense of loss over my life. My future crumbled, everything I thought I could attain went up with a puff of smoke. All I was left with was exactly what I had and nothing to work towards. The positivity was gone. The jokes dried up as did my compassion for others. It was not replaced with disdain or negativity, but just indifference. So did I lose happiness? I could not lose something that did not exist to begin with.
Where am I going with all of this? I ask this because I am making an effort to write more positively and this sure seems like a negative outlook. No such thing as happiness how can this be positive? It is all about our outlook on things. That is where we generate our feelings about things, especially our life.
If we have a positive outlook then often times we are positive, happy if you will, even if things are not going your way. A negative outlook, even when things are going your way, leads to sadness and depression. So by me changing my outlook on the direction of my life I can change how I feel about what is going on around me. It is funny because I work with a lot of people where I need to try and boost their self-confidence and I have a lot of different exercises that they can do to work on changing their perspective in how they view their life. For example, I have suggested that someone write down 5 things that were positive about their day right before they go to bed. Then reread then once they wake up. They fall asleep with positive thoughts and then they wake up to them. They also then start looking and focusing on the good things going on around them. It seems so simple and in reality it is and it works. I can hear the laughs from the crowd and the questions about why don’t I do this for myself? It seems hard to self-analyze and prescribe your own treatment plan and buy into it when you know that really nothing around you is changing. In the example above, the only thing that changes is how you view the things around you. The same crappy things could be happening but you only start to see the positives. So for me to do it seems difficult because I know the reality of what I am doing for people. I am changing how they see things not what is really happening. Maybe I am creating delusions for people.
So how am I becoming more positive? How am I changing? I am focusing on being who I was before. I block out everything and then put up the positive exterior that even I cannot break through. Are bad things still happening? Yip, but I am burying them and keeping up the positive front. I use laughter and smiling and making others laugh. When I can make the others around me be in a good mood it allows me to relax and calm down. When everyone is wound up and having a bad day then I tend to be more negative. So I am focusing on the others to create a positive atmosphere that helps me keep the bad down inside and the good pushed to the outside. Is it healthy? I don’t know, but I have done it for so long that once I started doing it again it is almost second nature. All I know is that I plan on being viewed as the happy person I once was in everyone’s eyes. I plan on making those around me happy and then allowing it to create a fun and positive environment. Will this work long term? Who cares when you are living moment to moment or day to day. I only need to get through today so I can worry about tomorrow.
If I ran the circus – Dr Seuss