Happiness

Happiness, what is it and how do I achieve it? Years ago, when I was at our neighbor’s house in NJ, we were all together and our friend Debby said, “Can I ask you a question” about something (can’t remember what). As a joke I said that her question was, “What’s the meaning of life?.”I expected her to just dismiss this silly comment and continue asking me whatever it was, but she actually stopped, and after careful consideration, she answered me with, “Having fun.” Wow, what an answer. It was such a simple answer to a very profound (although it was not meant that way) question. I have often thought of that answer; having fun is the meaning of life. But, at the same time I have to wonder if I ever have FUN. Early on in my first marriage, my husband commented that I didn’t know how to have fun and he was right, I didn’t. When I was a child, my idea of fun was competing in the playground in races, or tether ball, or swimming, or skateboarding, or bike riding, etc. That is a child’s idea of fun, but as an adult I lost that innocence, and I lost the art of simple pleasures. I don’t know how that happened. One of my main problems is that I often live in the future, thinking of what’s up next and consequently don’t feel that happiness in the moment. I know that I am still in competition with everyone, in my mind, of course. This causes me great unhappiness because I am always comparing my life with everyone else’s, my level of “happiness” with others. What makes me “happy” is always something external–I receive praise from somebody, I find out people are actually reading my blog, I get a picture accepted on a Stock site, or whatever it may be. It is almost never “just because” and I envy people who have that ability or art (and it is an art to me) to just feel good for no reason at all. When I was drinking and drugging, I achieved that Nirvana at times, but that was artificial, and when I was sober again, the good “high” was gone with the wind. That’s why I loved to get high, because I was “happy” for a few hours at least. Since I no longer do that, I have to rely on reality, not a chemically induced state of mind. So, I search and search for that elusive state of mind, and once every so often I do feel “happy” for no particular reason. But it is so rare, and I don’t know how to get it back. That is one of the greatest gifts and I wish I could just bottle it or find the right configuration so I could achieve it again. I guess that is why I drank, because at that moment of my first drink, I felt that “ease and comfort” of happiness, like nothing could touch me, like everything in life was good, and everything bad would be OK. I was suddenly transported to a fantasy world where my dreams would come true and I was proud of myself for all my achievements. But, I think without that fantasy world, I am lost, and was even as a child at home (unless I was outside playing), and I just don’t think I ever really learned how to be happy or if I will ever find it.

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