I began to write this post last night, but during the night, I thought quite a bit about it, and I’m starting over.
I haven’t been a happy person, for most of my life. The reasons don’t even matter — I was unhappy. But then I decided to be happy, and a light came on in the sad dark spots in my head. I felt like I had finally learned, had finally left depression and sadness behind. I mean, that’s what a happy person does, isn’t it?
Over the last week, I’ve learned the answer to that question, and the answer is no. A happy person isn’t happy all the time. If she says she is, she’s missing a big piece of the picture. You see, even just a little tiny bit of distress felt to me as if I were falling all the way back to where I was before. What I didn’t understand, and what I’m just now realizing, is the real happiness in life is being true to myself and who I am, and feeling equal to whatever emotions may come.
I never learned that people who were laughing and smiling could become sad and blue. It was all or nothing for me, as so many parts of my life are. But even being down is something to be glad about, now. Why? Because I am feeling, really getting what it means to be a regular human being, with joy, and hurt, and anger, and love, and every other emotion there is in the world. And just to be able to feel those emotions, and to realize that they are normal, and not the beginning of a terrible slide back into darkness, is itself worthy of celebration.
A friend of mine, from Dream Team, said that one way to think about it is to discern the difference between being happy, and being joyful. And I think she’s absolutely right. When I, as a happy person, am not happy, I still have the quiet joy of being alive, of sensing and feeling the world around me, and of appreciation for this new way of being.
When this happy person isn’t happy, she may be sad, or angry, or frightened, or in pain. Most of all, though, I am joyful to live and to be learning still, new lessons every day. Happy will come back, but joy never leaves.