I admit it. I am a spoiled brat.
Every single day, I receive an excessive amount of gifts that I did not earn and for no apparent reason. Life is good, I’ve never been so happy, however it hasn’t always been this easy. For a long time I blindly chased happiness. Actually, ‘chase’ is an understatement, I stalked it. Governed by a one track mind, I dedicated all of my time and energy to the pursuit. I was obsessed with my quest to obtain the coveted ‘brass ring’ – whatever that was. I was certain that if I just worked hard enough it would eventually be mine, and I would know it when I saw it. In hindsight I laugh at my younger self’s misdirected determination. I was less Sherlock Holmes and more Mr.Magoo, tenaciously looking in all the wrong places. Time and time again I’d set my eyes on the prize, go after it with all my might until finally, I’d arrive where I was sure happiness would be only to discover…. it wasn’t.
After years of tuition, studying (cramming) and exams, I graduated college then was quickly disappointed when happiness didn’t come included with my diploma, neatly rolled and tied in a bow. Still determined, I took a job as a stewardess, certain that contentment would be found on the shores of foreign lands. It was fun for a while, but eventually the excitement of travel wore off and degraded into lonely wandering . I longed for anything that felt domestic and was underwhelmed to discover other countries, while interesting, merely exported different versions of the same. (FYI ‘table for one’ is a universal language). My passport full but my search unfulfilled, I resorted to the last place I could think of. I sacrificed myself to a high paying job that I hated, my time in exchange for money. If I couldn’t learn happiness, and I couldn’t travel to happiness, surely I could buy it! Before long I had more commas in my checking account than I had ever imagined, yet I felt more broke inside than ever before.
I was beyond frustrated. It just wasn’t fair! I did everything (I thought) I was supposed to! I got a degree, I traveled across oceans, I earned lots of money, what else was I supposed to do? No matter how hard I worked, or how far I ran, happiness always remained one step ahead of me. In fact the more I chased it, the further it got away until finally I gave up out of exhaustion. I was sick of trying so hard, sick of proving I deserved happiness with no return on my investment. And that’s when things got good. It wasn’t immediate, I had to go through a detox. It took time to shake my old bad habits of material want and prideful ego, but once I let go of those misguided values, once used as a navigation system during my search, a funny thing happened: happiness came to me. It just showed up on my doorstep and said “Whew, about time we ended this silly game, can we just be where we are for a while?!”
These days, I don’t chase happiness, I choose it. I live with it, I see it every morning in a cup of delicious, warm, energizing coffee. I look for reminders of it everywhere I go during my day, and I curl up with it at night when I give thanks for all the miracles I am spoiled with. Divine, beautiful gifts that I did not earn but am so grateful for; the perfect turquoise color of our Florida summer sea, the refreshing temperature of aforementioned sea on these familiarly warm Florida summer days, cruising down the road when a forgotten favorite song comes on, coasting through the week when a forgotten favorite friend calls, the satisfaction I get from a productive day, the satisfaction I get from a relaxing do nothing day –these are all gifts I did not earn but am so grateful for. I admit it, I’m spoiled.
Now that I am living with happiness, I can hardly escape it. Sure there are times when happiness’ annoying, distant relatives, Fear and Worry try to visit, but my life is too full of joy to host them. My days are booked with solid content. Just when I think I surely must have reached my joy quota for the week, the next day brings a whole new batch of blessings and all I have to do is acknowledge them. The one biggest joy however, day in and day out, the one blessing I wish I had discovered a bit sooner , is the fact that I didn’t need to go out learning for, searching for, working for happiness at all, but that it was always with me the entire time, just waiting for me to stop chasing something else.