But lately, negativity has been singing a siren’s song. Like those dangerous and beautiful creatures in mythology who lured passing sailors into shipwreck against the rocks, the prevailing wind carries news of violence and atrocities that are hard to ignore. If you’re not careful, you can get sucked into the whirlpool of despair.
In the current climate, even an idealist can wonder if happiness is frivolous and unrealistic.
Then I remember. Happiness is a form of courage.
I remember that it’s good to be happy. I remember I am designed to function best when I’m happy. I remember the latest research proves it is smart to seek happiness and brilliant to embrace it, whether it’s fleeting moments or lingering seasons of joy.
I remember that it is not illegal to be happy. You don’t cook up happiness like a batch of meth.
It’s not even selfish to want to be happy.
If my portion of happiness seems larger than I deserve, I don’t need to be ashamed. I don’t have to hoard it or hide it. I should simply share it. Happiness multiplies – the more you give away, the more you get.
Jennifer Davis Lee, author of The Happiness Dare writes, “When you desire happiness, you are not a pleasure-seeking heretic. You are responding to something built into your soul. Your desire to live happy is your soul’s memory of the original paradise, etched and alive in you. Your happiness is a formidable weapon in a world wracked with pain. Happiness isn’t for wimps. Happiness is a potent force.”
I want to be happy. And I hope you do too.
Our forefathers considered happiness important enough to write it into the Declaration of Independence. Surely you recall the preamble that states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Does happiness mean that you are comfortably floating down a lazy river ride with friends while drinking fruity drinks? It could, but it most likely won’t look like that. The real picture involves intentional choices and actually takes work. You’re as likely to experience sweat and tears as giggles and grins.
Dean Kanazes is an Ultrarunner who find his happiness in pounding the pavement. In an interview in Outside magazine, he says, “Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.”
The achievement of happiness looks different for each of us. I tried running and it didn’t work for me – I will be the lady on the sidelines cheering others on. But there are signposts on the path to get you going in the pursuit of happiness. Whether you run, walk, fly or crawl… you can find happiness.
When you pursue happiness, you aren’t denying the pain that’s in the world. You are refusing to let it get the best of you.
Happiness is a form of courage.