On finding happiness.

A friend of mine recently sent me a text message asking me a rather difficult question: “How do you make your soul happy? I’m trying to find a little happiness.” My response isn’t completely thought-through, but it doesn’t fit in a text message, so I’m sharing it here.

Dear —

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I have very few. I still have days when I am sad, infinitely sad. They come, usually, when I am nostalgic for the recent past and for things and people I have lost recently. The sadness feels pervasive, but I’ve learned to step back and realize that it is not. That we all rue what we have lost, and that it’s okay to be sad from time to time because it makes us remember that we are human, that we all have loved and lost, and that it is the spectrum of emotions that makes us special.

Happiness, I’ve realized, is not found, but is instead lived. Even on the darkest of days, I’ve learned to be able to distance myself from the darkness and know that, overall, I am happy. 

Why am I happy?

I am happy because I do not search for happiness, or do things to try to make myself happy. I am happy because I do my best, every single day, to contribute to the world and the goodness within it. I am happy because I make it a point to bring some kind of happiness to others, whether at work or at play, even in the smallest of ways. Happiness, for me, is in the pursuit of the joy of others.

I am happy because others share their joy with me. I am happy because when someone I know, or care for, or even a stranger has a brief moment of clarity or happiness or just satisfaction, that brings a warmth to my soul that can’t be replicated by any other kind of “found happiness” I may seek. I feel joy in the laughter and smiles of the people around me.

I am happy because the people in my life — friends, family, strangers, even those who once loved me and have now made it a point to forget me — are happy, because they fill their lives with joy, and because I am able to, in my small way, contribute to their happiness every single day, even if it is simply by sending them good thoughts.

I do not try to find happiness, anymore. Instead, it has found me. Happiness has found me in the love that I have for the people and the world and in the potential that it has to be so wonderful. Happiness isn’t something I seek, it’s something that I do.

I hope your quest to find happiness goes well. And perhaps you’ll come to the point, one day, when instead of needing to find it, happiness is just something you live, every single day.