We live in a society wherein the primary objective is to be happy. Whenever something happens, you ask yourself whether you are happy about it or not. Before going to bed, you ask yourself whether it was a happy day or not. It is this state of being that everyone constantly tries to achieve but it seems like the more we try to be happy, the more miserable we end up being. Why is that so?
Let me quote my second favorite musical of all time, Wicked, and one of the more unappreciated songs sung by Glinda called, Thank Goodness.
(sung) That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:
(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!
Without consulting dictionary or Google, happiness comes across to me as a feeling that arises based on external situations. According to the song, happiness happens when all your dreams come true. Then what? What happens next? We become so focused on reaching that goal in order to be happy. We tell ourselves that we will only be happy once we’ve done this, achieved that, gotten this and surpassed that. And when you do get it, you know you will be happy. You should be. But have you ever felt a bit let down even when your dream did come true? And that it wasn’t how you anticipated it to be?
I had to grapple with this concept the last few months. In the past, I always thought that being happy was the most important thing in the world. It was only recently that I realized that I wasn’t really searching for happiness. I mean yes, who wouldn’t want all their dreams to come true? I still do. But I based so much of my self-worth and well-being on external situations and events. These would be whether I get promoted, get a good bonus, get married and/or have children. If I achieve it, I’m happy. If not, then I’m not happy. It’s all very external-based and conditional. I needed to change my mindset into being happy all the time, whether or not my dreams come true.
I realized there was something that was more important to me than being happy. And that is joy. Somewhere along the way of trying to achieve my dreams, I seemed to have lost my joie de vivre. I’ve become an automaton. In my search for happiness, I realized that what I was actually looking for was joy. It was what I didn’t know I needed and wanted. It is that cheerful enjoyment of life that I was looking for. Whether or not my dreams come true, I will still have that same zest and exuberance for life. I just want to feel excited to be alive even if it meant doing something new or doing the same thing over and over. I want to find that sense of joy and wonder again when I was a child. I want to be amazed at and be in awe of everything. Joy to me is an inner happiness and is unrelated to any external event. In my mind, that is just how I differentiated between happy and joy. Joy comes from within whereas happy is derived from the outside.
I still have dreams that I want to achieve. Whether or not I achieve them, should not affect the unqualified joy I have for living. Sure there will be happiness, sadness, disappointment, contentment and many other emotional states. What I want to maintain constant is that unwavering vibrancy to life. Can’t believe it took me a while to realize that. But I’m still glad I did.