By Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorNovember 23, 2015
image via pkrishnan.net
I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to allow myself to be happy. I’ve spent so much of my life in the fog of depression and anxiety that it’s been difficult to know anything else. I got so used to dreading waking up and just fumbling through most days that anything else is just incomprehensible to my imagination. I didn’t know how to be happy. For the longest time I don’t think I fully understood what happiness was, what it looked like, sounded like, and really felt like.
What is happiness? The dictionary defines it as “the state of being happy” where happy means “pleasure,” “contentment,” “satisfaction,” or “delight.” For me, it’s not that easy to define because it’s different for everyone. What makes me happy may not be the same for someone else. Sometimes I believed I was happy at the time, only to find reflection on the memory much less so. The mind can play tricks on my emotions.
“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.” –Kurt Vonnegut
Happiness is a new territory for me and the hardest part is recognizing when I am truly content and fulfilled. To realize that moment, that feeling, and to take it in completely is the most important thing for me. It’s much easier to notice pain and react to it, than to notice the ease of delight and joy.
I spend my days now looking for the moments that fill me up, instead of listing all the moments that leave me empty.
I find myself much more thankful for small moments and less terrified of the possibilities of bigger moments. I’m more open to laughter and love. I’m more at peace with that which is uncomfortable.
For the longest time I didn’t think I deserved to be happy. I didn’t deserve joy or goodness. Now, I’m beginning to believe it is possible that I can be happy and that it’s okay for me to be so, regardless of my past choices. The guilt and shame no longer rule my life. It’s freeing to realize that not every bad choice has to define you and that joy is just as important as sadness [thanks “Inside Out” for the reminder].
I am learning how to be happy, and it feels good.
How do you embrace happiness? How do you remind yourself that YOU deserve happiness? When are you most happy? Tell us below!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
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