Ruth and I were walking down our road on our almost-daily walk. And as is often the case when we take this particular walk, I feel happy. Since I didn’t spend most of my life happy, I tend to take sadness or despair for granted, and not question why I feel that way. But happiness? I’m always asking why when it pokes it’s little head up, like a new flower arriving in the spring.
But for the last few months, I have realized that I am happy. I’d say deliriously happy, except that sounds like a state that isn’t sustainable, and I know I am happy in a sustainable way. Not that I’ll always feel happy. I know that I’ll feel sad, or angry, or despairing, or one of a dozen difficult emotions, now and again. But instead of sadness being the baseline, and happiness being a high, it feels like my life has reversed – happiness is the new baseline.
And the funny thing is that it’s not because everything is actually perfect. I still have chronic health issues I am dealing with. I’m still (trying) to pay off my seminary student loan debt. My life at the moment is in flux. I’ve left behind the career I’ve known for 15 years, onto another set of endeavors that have no guarantee. But all of these those seem more like a set of puzzles to solve or experiments to try, rather than a problem I have to deal with.
But what started me out on this journey of happiness was this: I was committed to listening to myself, and how I wanted to live my own life. And being committed to giving myself love and compassion, and being self-aware–they are both things that are core elements of what makes my life happy. And the funny thing is, I don’t have what many people (at least in the US) think will make them happy, but I don’t even want those things. Ease and time is way more important to my quality of life than money or security or stuff.
Sometimes, as I watch the horror the world seems to have in store every single day, I feel a little guilty at being happy, and living the life I truly want. Watching the world go to hell in a handbasket doesn’t make me happy. But I’ve fully realized that I don’t have any control over what happens in the world, just over what happens in my life. I have control over the things I say (or don’t say,) the actions I can take (or not take,) and the things I can contribute (and not contribute) to the world. Understanding that, and letting go, has made a huge difference. Some of us live lives of choice, and that is a great privilege, one I try to be responsible with.