I believe in the pursuit of happiness… Not in the pursuit of any aspirations, but in the pursuit of the ability to enjoy them. You see, I have forgotten (if ever I knew) how to feel happiness.
Some psychiatrists have told me that since I do not feel happy; I must be depressed. They were wrong. I lust for life and all it has to offer, and I am quite successful.
Many people tell me that everyone inherently knows how to feel happy and you just need to allow it to happen, but they are not right either. Feeling happiness is a skill, a habit to be nurtured and developed, or else it atrophies. And, learning to feel happy, once forgotten, is extremely hard work. I have to remember what happiness is supposed to feel like, for my heart to lighten, my spirit to lift and my mouth to smile. And, I have to practice incessantly.
When I find myself in a happy situation, I rarely realize it and feel it as it should be. When friends are around or family comes to visit, I just do not feel anything. And, then, when I reflect upon my day, I realize that there were many moments that I could have felt happy and smiled, and have enjoyed them for what they were. No one should end their days feeling happiness only in afterthought.
I am fortunate that I can look back and realize that there were happy moments. It is not the same to feel happy in retrospect. I want to feel happy in the moment and spontaneously. For, I have plenty about which to be happy. I have friends, a job, hobbies, interests and most importantly a loving wife. Thankfully, she knows happiness and is understanding of my struggle.
Often, when she is with me, she will gently squeeze my hand and whisper in my ear, “This is a happy moment.” I then step out of myself, survey the situation, realizing that it is a happy moment, and then my work begin. I have to remember how it feels to be happy and what one does when one is happy. I start to smile, a genuine smile, one that reaches my eyes and touches my heart. And, for a few moments, I feel happy but it is a struggle, it feels forced and does not come naturally.
So, I keep working on it: by practicing feeling happy when remembering moments that I have missed, by spotting life’s happy moments, and by remembering what to do when I find myself in a happy moment. I am getting better at it, but it is slow and hard work that has taken me years and I am still not very good at it. Yet, on I struggle in my pursuit of happiness.
And, one day I will be able to hold my wife’s hand, and look her in the eyes and feel happy, truly happy, spontaneously happy… This I believe.
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