This I Believe

Eric - Culver City, California
Entered on June 20, 2007

THE KEY TO HAPPINESS

What is happiness? Some people would say happiness is that feeling of getting a new car. Others would say finding happiness is finding love. Still others say happiness is finally going on that vacation they’ve been saving up for. I believe happiness is a state of being. No one and nothing can make us happy. Only we can make us happy.

People who say, “I won’t be happy until I get this job” or “if only my girlfriend would take me back, I’d be happy again” don’t understand how happiness works. They live from one moment of delayed satisfaction to the next. Happiness isn’t some thing or some one. Happiness is just satisfaction with life as it is. If we don’t live in the now we will look back on our life and realize it wasn’t everything we could have made it out to be.

I discovered this many years ago. Back when I was twelve, I spent a number of months in therapy. My parents had just gotten a divorce and I was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the situation. Like many people who have never set foot in a therapist’s office, I had originally thought that a therapist was like a genie. Once he knew what was wrong, he would fix it. This is not true. A therapist gives advice about how to fix problems but only their client can take the advice and use it.

My therapist’s name was Chuck. He was as good of a guy as they get. He was easy to talk to and he let me see that my parents’ divorce was not the end of the world. Chuck helped me understand that there were ways to deal with my life as it was. Yet the only way I would be able to change my life is if I took on a different attitude. No one else could do it for me. He was absolutely right. I realized that my youth gave me so many opportunities and advantages.

I have not spoken with Chuck for over five years, yet I still follow his teachings. I’ve realized my key to happiness wasn’t the idea of my parents getting back together and life returning to normal. Instead, my key to happiness was getting involved in my own life. Now, every moment I have, I seize the day. If I get an idea in my head of something I would like to do or accomplish, I set out to do it. I never think that I’m too young to achieve anything.

Thanks to those teachings I am no longer depressed nor do I wallow in self pity. Granted, things will come along that can make us sad and break our hearts but eventually we have to get back on our feet and continue on with life. Wanting to be happy in the future should not mean we can’t enjoy life in the present.