Lately I’ve noticed how much I let external things affect my happiness. A new city makes me bubble with joy, attention from that cute dude makes my heart flip, an indulgent meal makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
It’s not a bad attribute, in general, to find joy in these experiences. What’s the alternative? A calloused heart that’s never excited? The problem is, sometimes the good fortune well dries up. What happens when your phone is silent, bank account drained, and you stepped on a cockroach on fifth ave? What happens when your pleasurable experiences are suddenly defunct and you’d still like to remain a happy person?
Do you shift your focus to another vessel, another spot of your life that could define your happiness? Or do you draw inward, like a belly button during pilates?
We both know the answer: your happiness should come from your insides. You know how they tell you your hair will be long and beautiful if you eat all the foods you hate and stop swimming in vodka? Same idea. It’s an inside out sort of thing.
What you feel should emanate from your core, rather than seep in through your pores. You should smile because your insides are full of rainbow sprinkles, not because someone complimented you on your new shoes. You should smile because you’re alive and bright and with-it and you usually smell good, not because you’re rolling in cash and affection.
This is hard to do. As a sensitive soul it’s a challenge to keep my happiness sucked in and tucked away, instead of letting it flap around like a scarf in the wind, dependent on outside gusts.
Culturally we also tend to measure happiness by external measurements: do you like your job, are you in love, do you like where you live, is there food on the table, couture on your back? You know, the whole appreciate whatcha got schtick. We don’t usually ask each other, “are you happy just for the sake of being happy? are you happy just because you are what you are and you like yourself, stripped of everything else?”
I don’t care about the people who are happy and have everything. They can go ride unicorns together into the golden sunset. I think I need to meet some people who are happy, despite having nothing but themselves. Those people are the reality check. So, should I google Mother Teresa quotes or find the friendliest looking homeless person on my block to chat with?