By Ciara Sullivan
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling (midterms start this week…pray for me). Although I am only in my second semester, I’ve already learned so much about the field, and more importantly, about life. Throughout my training I am constantly asked to be aware of and “tuned into” other people’s emotions. I’ve noticed that when I converse with people I now pay attention to everything…not just what someone is speaking about, but how they are speaking about it. How does their voice differ on certain words? How does their body language change in accordance to what they are telling me? There is so much to study about a person’s behavior.
As I move through my fieldwork, there is one thing in particular I’ve noticed everyone struggles with no matter their age, race, or socioeconomic status: being happy. Merriam Webster defines the word “happy” in a simple way…
\ˈha-pē\ : feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the concept of happiness was as simple as the definition? Imagine the world we would live in. How different would it be if happiness was so easily attained, without being elusive? If only. I find myself saying that a lot. If only I could achieve _____, I would be happy. By the time I achieved whatever it was I wanted that I was convinced would make me happy, my mind was already moved onto the next thing. Sometimes I feel like my happiness is in a constant state of motion.
A few years ago I read a quote by Rita Mae Brown that struck a chord with me. She said, “The key to happiness is quite simple: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to”. Recently I’ve put a lot of thought into the concept of happiness, and I think for me, this quote is the closest I can get to defining it. When I think about the things that have made me happy in the past week I see that often it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference…my nephew running to the door and hugging me when I came home from work, being able to drive with my windows down last week when it was warm, my boyfriend bringing home roses, and even my Starbucks barista spelling my name correctly on my coffee cup (with a name like mine, it’s almost never happened).
Maybe sometimes people focus too much on the destination rather than focusing on the journey. Maybe it would be best to begin viewing happiness as a state of mind rather than a destination. Maybe we should cut the phrase “if only” out of our vocabulary entirely. Maybe I’m just rambling.
Life can be hard. I think no matter how happy I am with myself I might always be in search of happiness. Regardless, I think it’s something we should strive for, so long as it’s something we believe we can attain. How we attain it would depend on our definition.
How would you define happiness?