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Hi there! I hope you’re safe & well. Have you done something to take care of yourself body, mind, and soul this week?
I used to think happiness was something to strive for. Something I could find if I tried hard enough. Smiled enough. Made the right connections. Had enough friends. Got the right job. Followed all the steps.
Maybe if I didn’t have depression, I would find happiness.
Maybe if I was a better person, happiness would find me.
I was told all my life to choose happiness. The idea is great: choose to be happy and the world will fall into place.
But is that really how the world works? Can you choose to be happy?
I searched for happiness for so long. Sometimes it felt like my search for happiness was simply a constant reminder of how unhappy I was.
You read quotes about finding happiness and not letting anything disturb your peace. You question if the people in your life are disturbing your peace or if you’re overreacting. You google meditation techniques. You watch yoga videos on YouTube. You pull a muscle because you’re not very flexible anymore and who the heck can do those lunges anyway? You try dieting. You learn dieting is not fun, but ice cream puts a smile on your face every damn time. You get on medication for depression. You get off medication for depression.
You try all these things that the proverbial everyone tells you to try. But still, you’re not happy inside. Sure, you can smile and laugh just like the rest of them. But it’s not soul-deep, this “happiness”.
So I ask you: what if we stopped seeking happiness?
What if by seeking happiness, all we’ve been doing is reminding ourselves how unhappy we are?
What if by looking in the mirror and saying, “Please smile,” you’re reminding yourself that you don’t feel like smiling, but that’s what the world expects of you?
What if every time you say, “My friends are happy, why aren’t I?” you’re actually just reminding yourself how lonely and isolated you feel?
One day, I realized that my pursuit of happiness had actually become toxic. I was looking skin-deep, not soul-deep. I was searching for happiness and labeling everything else as Not Good Enough. Digging up all my insecurities and piling them on the table, then screaming, “Just go away!”
They didn’t go away.
Then I realized, what if I’m searching for the wrong thing? What if I shouldn’t be searching at all?
What if all this time the key to happiness wasn’t, in fact, finding happiness, but accepting my situation for what it is? Check out this post on Radical Acceptance, it has a lot of great info about accepting what is, instead of wishing for what you don’t have.
I wiped my tears and opened my eyes. I asked myself, “What in my life is ok?”
Not good, not great, not happy, just ok.
Well I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. That’s ok. That’s good, actually.
I have a good dog.
I have nice hair. Sometimes. That’s ok.
My family is ok.
My job is ok.
Maybe I can’t see super great things right now, but I can see that they satisfy my basic needs. They are ok. And maybe by seeking only good and labeling everything else as bad, I’m actually cutting myself short.
So I started looking for the ok. Things I could be satisfied with. Comfortable with.
Then I started thinking a little more positively about the things that were just ok.
I have a lovely home.
Food can be delicious. Especially ice cream. And no, I don’t have a problem. I can stop anytime I want.
My dog is actually pretty great.
My hair may be a lot to deal with, but it can be beautiful.
My family loves me a lot.
My job… well my job is still just ok, but you get the idea.
I’ve stopped searching for happiness because I realized that what I was really searching for was “perfect.” If it wasn’t just right, it needed improvement and I couldn’t be happy with that.
But if you just stop and take a breath, you’ll realize you have so much to be thankful for, even if there are a lot of crappy things you have to deal with.
Do it, take a deep breath!
What do you smell? Food cooking on the stove? Freshly mowed grass? Cut flowers on your table? The fart your dog decided to bless you with? Your dad’s cologne?
There are good things in this world (maybe not the fart, but work with me here). And if you seek them out, if you accept them for what they are, you might find that contentment is attainable.
Maybe what you’ve been seeking all this time has been right under your nose.
Maybe you can look for the ok, for the decent, for the satisfactory.
Maybe you can think of all the things you have to be grateful for, and that will fill you up.
Maybe the love of your family or friends can be more powerful than the pain inside you.
Maybe you can look at this broken, hurting world in a more positive light.
Maybe you can seek goodness instead of happiness.
Maybe you can choose love over hate.
Maybe, if you do this long enough, happiness will find you.
I hope this post can help you find contentment.
If the world ever seems like too much, and you’re not sure how to handle it, help is always available to you here. Or you can call 800-273-8255 if you need to talk to someone.