On
from
pinterest
Are You Happy?

But like, really, actually, truly?

08.08.16
Happiness-Man-Repeller-2

Are you happy?

I ask myself this question a lot. My answer, for the most part, is yes, but after I read a profile on Marie Kondo in the New York Times Magazine last week, I got to thinking more acutely about happiness. If you’re unfamiliar with Marie Kondo, she is a Japanese tidying expert who has become phenomenally famous in the last three years because of her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book, as you would expect, is about tidying up. But this is only on the surface. When you get into it, what you find is that it’s really a meditation on how to get happy. I knew this when I read it, but what I didn’t quite realize until the Times piece was that Kondo didn’t get famous because she can teach you how to organize your pantry. She’s a global sensation because of what she promises beneath that: a happier life, a happier you.

Kondo’s success, that of other books like hers and box office hit singles like Pharrell’s “Happy” indicate that culturally, no matter how many of us answer yes when asked if we’re happy, chances are, we’re not. I’m all for consistent and radical self-improvement, but not at the cost of what makes us happy. And what makes us happy is the thing of it. I don’t think we actually know what happiness is — how to make it and then keep it.

This might be a problem indigenous to Metropolitan cities, where it is stressful to merely exist. I can’t speak to an experience that is not my own with full conviction but know that if you work many hours a week, feel looming terror overcome you when the sun sets on a Sunday and wake up with your heart beating at 98 beats per minute on a given weekday morning — no matter how much you love your job, no matter how fulfilling you say it is, no matter how frequently you meditate, love your partner and talk to your mom — you’re not happy.

The reason I know this is because it is not a rhetorical narrative; it’s one plucked from my own experience. For the longest time, I thought I’d figured it out: that there’s no such destination as happiness, its a “journey” replete with many speed bumps. But I don’t think that’s right anymore, either.

I was leaving my parents’ home in Southampton on Sunday evening like I do at the end of every summer weekend. That morning I had woken up and felt jealous of the former me, who 48 hours prior woke up in Southampton and still had the whole weekend ahead of her. By 5 p.m., when we were leaving, I had just completed the Times’ Kondo story and finished washing out my empty wine glass. My heart felt especially heavy when I went to hug my parents and I broke down. I don’t know why or what set it off. I looked forward to the week that was getting ready to confront me and, before that, I so looked forward to dinner at dusk, in the East Village, when you start to see stars fighting to shine through what’s left of the daylight, and you’re not that hungry, but so eager to be outdoors with someone you like.

No time like high summer will remind you with pestering persistence that if you don’t soak in the moment, you’re going to open your eyes and feel your limbs covered in snow. And that observation (the fear of snow), coupled with my reality (the sun setting on my back, the heat kissing my face, the sweat running through my elbows as I hugged my parents), indicated to me that I’m never gonna get happy until I start living. Because that’s not what I’m doing, you know? Yeah, I’m going through the motions. I’m working really hard. I’m laughing when stuff is funny, but mostly, I’m looking forward to getting this done and that started, to getting there and leaving here. Those details above — of the fantastic weekend, of the dinner at dusk — they’re recollections. I never feel them when I’m in them because I’m never actually here. But what’s wrong with here? I’m enjoying doing “this.” “That” can wait.

My life, it seems, occurs in two phases: past and future. I haven’t figured out how to live in the present even through meditation, and frequent exercise, and eating the right stuff and seeking advice because I never knew I wasn’t here in the first place. I blamed “the speed bumps” I had identified on my misinformed “journey” called Happiness and living in New York, and a conflated American dream that placed severe emphasis on capitalism and taking advantage of opportunity and attempting to institutionalize those windows of opportunity and our tendency as a population of over-doers to go from 0 to 100 in under a minute. Moderation, you say? What the hell is that? But now I know that it — the royal It — has nothing to do with any of that. It’s all in me and about me and shit, that is so relieving.

I sent a text message to my younger brother, an eternal (sometimes idealistic) optimist and asked him what he believes is the key to happiness. He replied immediately, “It’s simple, just be it.”

So as I feel my finger tips hit the keys that create these words and I stop myself from wondering how putting this out into the world will be received and instead acknowledge the window to my left, overlooking a vast ocean from over 5,000 feet above ground and I feel my brow furrowing further and further and I breathe in through my nose and back out through my mouth, whispering these words as they appear on the page, I’m it. Happy.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.

happiness-essay

Get more Brain Massage ?
  • Dani Heifetz

    I think a real part of happiness is coming to terms with the fact that you’re never going to reach that peak feeling of happiness– where you feel like everything in your life is going to perfectly fall into place– and being absolutely, 100% ok with that. Like you said, it’s so important to try to just be “it” and to try and live in the present, and I think you can only do that if you’re not presently seeking out something greater.

  • Aydan

    This seems like an accurate time to share this article that my dear friend shared with me after we spent Saturday night talking about what it means to live the fulfilled life (we started by talking about dating and literally ended with what is the meaning of life — girl friends, they make you think). http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/fuck-feelings/403792/?utm_source=atlfb I think the comment below is so right. It’s all about understanding that balance can be more satisfying in the long run then overblown joy because like most things its fleeting. (I really need to listen to myself on this one because it has a been a struggle of a summer for sure)

  • Senka

    I can identify with this so strongly. You put the feeling into words so well. I go through the motions and moments, that are and should be enjoyable, but fail to actually be happy when they are happening, because I dread what comes next, what comes after that. Part of me understands it comes as the sideffect of my anxiety and neuroticness. I can’t simply enjoy. I have somewhere along the way lost the ability to fully participate, and started to have fear and anxiety as a back up plan for what comes after, and what will, undoubtedly be bad. I have also spent this weekend with my parents. Hugged them on their way home on Sunday, and stayed with my self thinking I haven’t properly enjoyed their visit. Which was true. I wasn’t just being, eating food, soaking up the sun, laughing, walking. I was, phyisically doing all that, but my mind was at my work desk on Monday morning. I really needed to read this. Because my real vacation starts in a month. I have booked the flights, the hotels, and know I should actually enjoy it. Now I have a month to work on myself being present while I’m there.

  • Anne Dyer

    In my experience, life takes on a weird, is any of this important feel once we decide we want to become mothers and start endlessly trying to do just that. Because the universe doesn’t always mirror our own timelines, we have a tendency to overthink everything while we wait. The meaning of being “happy” shifted the day I became pregnant. And though child rearing is hard, it is a luxury to “complain” about its challenges. Really it’s the ultimate ray of sunshine, happy dance, jazz hands part of life.

    • Anne Dyer

      And PS – when you do become pregnant your readers fully expect a jazz hands, happy dance.

  • aisyah

    We think too much about how to gain that happiness that we have forgotten what happiness really means. You don’t necessarily need to gain something in order to achieve it. Sometimes, it could be as simple as you appreciating the little things in life.

  • Man, so deep !
    This is what getting back from holiday can do to you.
    I really appreciated this short article, it felt so generous of you to share. And I feel better about myself now, for real ! since I feel the same at the moment, and lost…

    keep posting and podcasting !

  • Rachel D.

    I hope this doesn’t sound spam-y but my mom wrote a (v short) book called ‘The Joy Formula’ that realllllly speaks to this. The idea is that we don’t have to *do* anything to be happy (we don’t have to do any tricks, organize our lives, clean out our closets, etc). At our core we are totally whole and unbroken- it’s just when we listen to all the white noise & get caught up in our thinking that we lose touch with that inner being. But finding happiness doesn’t require any action- we can tap into it any time, because it is always there. 🙂

    • Sugar Bones

      Your mom sounds so rad!

      • Rachel D.

        She is the best!! 😀

  • Aimee Wang

    This is like me this Sunday, spent 2 hours thinking if I should go to the neighborhood bakery, dragging myself out of bed an hour later, biked there, took my time to pick the cookie I want, and then finished it when I was unlocking my bike. I was too excited to start eating it but also worrying about where to go next that I barely noticed it when I eat it…

  • Alessia

    SAME. But I don’t think it’s as easy as just “being” happy. I think you have to acknowledge that life has its ups and downs, and you can’t just expect to be always happy all the time. Happy moments DO happen, and I agree that we should all try and be more present during those moments, rather than focus on the past or future, but I feel like there’s no such thing as “making” or “keeping” that happiness… just try and enjoy it while it’s there. <3

  • Christel Michelle

    I feel like the obsession with being the happiest and best versions of ourselves also has deep roots in social media. I don’t want to jump on the anti-social media bandwagon (because I’m not anti-social media), but it’s so easy to feel inadequate or like you could be doing more/better after you sign onto Instagram and see tons of staged photos that are chock full of exuberant smiles and dream like lifestyles or vacations. There is no way that anyone is one hundred percent happy, one hundred percent of the time. Though now it feels like we ought to be, because that is the image we as a society have created for ourselves. It’s like, if you don’t get with the program that becomes an error on your part and then the vicious cycle of self criticism starts up again.

    • Pamela

      100% agree and you only question how “happy” you are when you see what others are doing. My new thing is using social media as normal by once the weeken rolls, I log off mostly and just try enjoy the moment and not roll my eyes when I see my friends and strangers perceiving to be having a better weekend/ time than me. So what? I live for me and honestly it definitely keeps me grounded. I do love social media but I can see how comparing oneself constantly can interfere with ones personal happiness and well being.

  • Kristie

    This strikes me today after reading insights from writer Jeff Goins’ yesterday about becoming a “writer”. He says You become a writer when you say you’re one, a step he found truly daunting. Maybe just as daunting to call ourselves happy. “Who am I to say I’m happy when I haven’t done X , accomplished Y?” etc. Until you call yourselves whatever you want and go for it.

    • Natasha

      oh my gosh. this just blew my mind!

      • Kristie

        🙂

  • Sharon

    All this navel gazing will not lead to happiness.

    “Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
    –Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Grace b

    I have experienced loads of happy moments and you have too, Leandra. When I am doing something really awesome I make sure to close my eyes and smile and document it in my mind – going for a drive with my little brother, horseback riding in the sun, etc. Sometimes I write in a gratitude journal. And yes, I love yoga. I do these things – not even all the time-because I spend a lot of time being melancholy. Basically worshipping at the altar of navel gazing. Not moving forward. Worrying. It is actually preferable to having fun or doing something that makes me feel good. So reminder here to not get stuck in the crummy moments and to appreciate the good ones.

  • Svenja

    There is this strange thing about happiness — I have looked back a few times on different phases of my life and realized that I was happy then.. without knowing it at the time. Maybe you can’t feel truly happy while you are thinking about happiness, but you just have to enjoy the happy moments that come along and when you look at a certain time period much later you will see all the happy memories of the time together and you will smile because you know that you were happy then.

  • “Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product” – best quote on happiness to date. I read it on a pack of sugar in a restaurant back in 2007. I find that it still keeps the essence of happiness.

    For me happiness is a feeling or state that happens at the most unexpected places in time, you can appreciate it for a moment and then life goes on. It’s that feeling of being deeply satisfied with your life, while also acknowledging that are things that still needs to be figured out. I do think that requires us to live life the best we can and be present in the moment, instead of chasing something different/better/the next.

  • Rayna Tobin

    I struggle so often with always being in the future. I’m thinking about what I am excited about for next week, what vacation is coming up soon, what plans I have with friends over the weekend. It is something that I at least have an awareness of, but feel that I still have not stopped myself from drifting off into future land. While I know that having plans and goals are important, I definitely need to take more moments to appreciate my present and open my eyes to what’s around me at this moment.

  • Can happiness be a permanent state though? I’ve met some super positive people that seem to always be happy but to me they seem a bit strange and fake. Part of the beauty of being a human is that we get to experience so many emotions, and that makes us appreciate the better emotions (like happiness) more. Just like living through winter makes us appreciate summer more. If everything was amazing and perfect all the time, imagine how bored we’d get.
    Sorry if this sounds negative or like some existential nonsense, of course I strive to be happy but I think it has to come with stress, sadness, etc and that’s just part of life.

    • I like your reply Maria. Its honest and takes the pressure of trying to be happy too. You have to have those contrasts to the sunsets and good times, to make you ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the happiness too.

  • BK

    Don’t worry about all that “living in the present” BS. Happiness is a paradox. You aren’t really supposed to be aware of those moments when you’re truly happy at the time because the minute you stop and think about how happy you are or aren’t, you begin appraising yourself and your situation, at the expense of your happiness (or at least the purity of your happiness). I try not to second-guess myself about being too happy or unhappy these days because it’s just another way for me to pick on myself and ultimately end up unhappy.

  • Joanna Maziarz

    Keep being you, Leandra so refreshingly honest keep on writing and just being you!! Happiness is in the moment (we all have bad days, we laugh at later when were in those “and I thought that was bad”) Be you, the happy goofy Leandra (that I always look forward to reading news stories from you/ your staff leaving a deep hearty laugh to follow)

  • Tania

    So many folks touch on the paradoxical nature of happiness. Living life and not judging if its good or bad is truly one of the hardest things I think anyone can do. I try it every now and then and realize, wow! My life with all its indecision, laughs, tears, sorrows, accomplishments and setbacks is a miraculous work of art and quite frankly is much more complex and special than the idea that i have of “happy”.

    Im a depressed (past focused), happy (present focused), anxious (future focused) miraculous ball of a being!!

    I read and listen to a lot of Deepak Chopra and like minds. Our western society is built on “creating” and “bettering” the self to the point that we lose sight that we are simply alive. (Sometimes I think existing is simply beyond our comprehension on so many levels, but that’s another convo…) I think thats why “developed” countries have higher rates of depression than “developing” nations where people focus on survival which breeds a culture of gratitude towards what is still around – life, friends, food, clean water, access to technology, etc. Giving thanks for what is in the NOW is the ultimate present to our peace of mind and if fuels our happiness by helping us not remember or plan, but look around.

    I sometimes set a reminder on my phone to think of a few things that I am grateful for. I truly believe that everyones’ world is so unique and special, perfectly curated by the “is”/ever changing present called Happiness.

    • Basil

      I totally agree about appreciating the “now”. I’ve had a few really difficult years, and I just wished that time away, I just wanted to get through it and be done with it. You’d have thought I had learned my lesson because it felt like the latter part of my 20s was spent trying to get somewhere, so I was studying and working hard and not enjoying being in my 20s. Looking back there were lots of times when I was happy, but I didn’t do things that would have made me happy because I was too focused on working. Now, I have nearly a year (yay British maternity leave!) where I’m away from the corporate environment and I’m able to (as far as is possible while hanging out with an infant all the time) try and figure out what I do enjoy doing and to take time and just be (with said infant). And you know what – before time would pass quickly and I’d just feel regret and like I’d missed so much whereas so far things have gone super fast, but as I’m trying to absorb every moment and appreciate it, I don’t feel that regret.

    • grace b

      Something I try to do is when I’m enjoying something (i.e. in the car with my little bro listening to tunes) I close my eyes and I think, “I’m here, right now, enjoying this” and THAT has been super helpful and I highly recommend it. Guess that is my way of staying in the now. I will say that living with someone who is always stressing being the present is obnoxious as hell — it negates that there IS much more going on in our lives and in the world and those things certainly don’t need to be ignored to be happy.

  • Natasha

    “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I’ll meet you there.”

    I came across this quote by Rumi a few days ago. Thinking about that garden makes me so happy. I think a lot of the things that give us anxiety in life have to do with expectation, comparison (whether it’s with others or with your own ideas of yourself), things we feel we ‘should’ be or do. The idea of cultivating a place within yourself where all of that is forgotten is so liberating. Conclusion: I’m going to start gardening.

  • Andrea Strobl

    You really touched me, because I can relate so much. Its so easy to say, but so hard to do. To live in the now, to just be. Also, thinking about happiness so much is what makes it so hard to get , let’s just be. Thank you Leandra <3

  • Mariana

    My problem is that I’m always so busy thinking “how things can go wrong” in the future that I don’t make room to “just be” in the present. I time travel to the hypothetical-and-worst-case-scenario-future a lot lol.

  • Tina Crisas

    Geez. First world problems. Wake the eff up.

  • HannahMerle

    Test

  • As you once said, fake it til you make it ! I often think about it when I feel like shit. What separates my “happy past me” from my “gloomy present me” ? Just me, thinking about it.

  • Ines

    I feel like this feeds into the neoliberal adage that says we can will ourselves to be happy if we only wish hard enough. “It’s all in me and about me” shifts the responsibility for happiness yet again onto the individual, leaving out the possibility that happiness isn’t the property of one – and I acknowledge the nod to capitalism, self-exploitation, etc. – but, perhaps, can only come about when I am more than myself, as “public happiness” if you will.

  • Gillian Byck Overholser

    Hi! I just heard Eckhardt Tolle say something wonderful on this topic during a call with Deepak Chopra last week. He said, “You have to make friends with NOW. ” in other words, don’t just use the present moment as a way to make some future moment better … like say , making your bed because you’ll feel happy after that, when it’s made. Does that make sense? That’s a teensy example of a much bigger issue. Here’s a slightly bigger example … if you’re not eating dairy NOW because IN THE FUTURE it will make you happy, There is no future, only ean endless succession of NOWS .. you have to learn to be happy NOW as opposed to using your NOWS to prepare for some purely theoretical future happiness. Make friends with NOW! xo Gillian O.

  • Banipreet Kaur

    Hi Leandra,
    Thank you for sharing this. It’s a beautiful read to wake up to (halla from Sydnayyyyy!) and contemplate. I wonder – is it happiness we seek or contentment? Happiness lies on the emotional paradigm where sadness also chills out. Are we to keep going up and down the scale of emotions constantly, or be in zen in da middle? I mean erryday is different and is packed full of emotions and challenges, so to find solace in the struggle – than to seek happiness? Idaankno.
    B

  • b.e.g.

    You are very wise for one so young.

  • Hannah Cole

    I blogged a little post of my own in response to and inspired by this – https://theysayshewasaflowerchild.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/in-response-to-happiness/
    coudn’t have come at a better time xx

  • Erika Galan

    Love this piece, Leandra! xoxoxo
    Erika

  • yes Leandra – yes. so easy to approach happiness as a destination. If I’m not careful I’m quick to tag a “success story” like yours Destination: Happiness. All I Ever Wanted.

    perception is reality. Regardless of our path point we’re all striving striving striving and not quiet enough during late afternoon sunlight. But we can try

  • Am I working towards what I want? Then I can deal with anything. And I’m happy.
    A long time ago, a really annoying guy I knew told me his trick: it’s a choice. You can choose how you’re going to respond to the events in your life. Not choosing is a choice. But making the active choice is the better one. The stuff is still going to happen to you (eg: gravity).
    He was still annoying, but he was right. Choose wisely.

  • Town

    Beyond the fact that I’m getting tired of people obsessing over being perfectly happy all the time (and so many of your posts and podcasts are about that: am I happy?? Am I my best self?? Give yourself a break!), the interesting question is can we realistically be content living in a massive city such as NYC, or London or Paris. After all, not to sound like a hippie but those environments are nothing natural for us humans. We designed our own misery for profit, and then we wonder why we feel like shit. We completely disconnected from the absolute basic needs we have: nature, time, space, silence. We try so hard to find desperate ways to cope with city life (meditation! Sports! Yoga! Veganism! Rooftop gardening!), and then we keep wondering why this isn’t enough.
    I just think having a successful career like yours has a price, that’s all. If you’re sick of the anxiety, then quit and become a writer and move to the countryside really. But I doubt you’re fit for that either because then it would be TOO quiet, wouldn’t it?
    I’m really wondering all those questions myself as I live in a big city for my work (that is also a passion and a dream come true) and yet feel Like I’m not suit for city life.
    I met a woman who works in fashion and lives just outside of London, recently. She commutes every day and is much happier this way. Could this be a solution?…

    But maybe I’m totally beside the point and your problem is not the city and in that case my comment is useless and I’m sorry!

    • … moved to a village last year and think the answer is Yes/No :-). While it is always a pleasure to be able to breathe fresh air, have the Great Outdoor just across the street and as much peace as one can stand, these things are just nice contributions to one’s wellbeing and don’t actively make you happy. Especially if any of the following is taken into account: social control, lack of like-minded people and facilities suitable for You Doing You etc. I’ll spare you the details 🙂
      On the other hand, I have spent such a big part of my life doing Existential Fighting I am now forced by my suitably adapted personality to feel happy whenever I don’t feel threatened. While I’d love for my private (i.e. non-job) life to be much more diverse and exciting, I am not exactly unhappy about it, because my unhapiness is reserved and spent for “serious things”. That and the fact that I get many happy moments from the simple fact of being married to a Great Guy – and in this context, the place of living mostly isn’t important.

  • A-r-i

    When it comes to whether or not you can just “choose” to be happier, I used to think this was rubbish, until I realised that… maybe it is as simple as making that decision, but it’s also hard work. And you don’t necessarily just have to choose to be happier once, you probably have to keep doing it.
    I think the tricky thing about just choosing to be happy and being happier is that you end up asking yourself “if it’s so easy then why aren’t I happy right now?” or worse, feel blamed, and your next thought is “if it’s so easy, and I can’t do it, I must be broken somehow”.
    My brother has anxiety and I was talking to my mum about meditation. She said meditating was unlikely to help because he was already thinking too much, and I said, no, anxiety has little to do with actually thinking, it’s when thoughts are rushing through your head and you experience the weight of them. If you take time to actually experience them, it’s a lot less stressful.
    So, I don’t know, I’m not an expert but I care enough about this topic that I made a disqus just to comment on it! But that’s my take, that there’s the simple action of saying “yes” to happiness but a great depth of work to do underneath that “yes” (like (what a cliché!) an iceberg).

  • Jen

    I think a lot of feeling happy has to do with allowing ourselves to be joyful and vulnerable to that joy. I’ve been reading Daring Greatly and it talks about this a bit. (I highly recommend it). Also knowing that we are enough, which has been my personal mantra lately. I used to think, if I could do this or if I had this, I would be happier, but that was just me focusing on a different time other than the present. I really think happiness is something we choose and the more gratitude we express for the things we have, the more joy and happiness and we can remind ourselves to actively feel.

  • Jess

    I agree that being (or rather, feeling) happy includes choosing to be mindful. I can’t help but disagree that this isn’t all of it — and I think ultimately, we as a society tend to (perhaps need to) believe we have more control over things than we actually do.

    Consider also that maybe certain personality types are more predisposed to easily experiencing happy feelings than others. I’m reminded of the “tortured intellectual” trope (think Ivan from Brothers Karamazov, maybe?), which may very well be a caricature, but probably is not ultimately very far off. But basically, if someone’s naturally more introspective (artsy/creative types? those with anxiety, depression?), this can affect her inclination to be mindful. I can’t help but side-eye anyone who suggests it is as easy to suddenly “decide” to be happy as it is to decide which channel to watch. It certainly varies. I guess what this boils down to is the idea also of happiness as a feeling versus happiness as a state; I can see the former being more palpable.

  • Emma S

    What does it smell like? That is the question I try to ask myself when I realize I am not in the present moment. It forces me to pause, bring in some air, and notice the scent. It’s a horrible game to play if you live in S.F. or N.Y. in terms of scents, but it always makes me laugh.

  • Alexandra Sara

    I read this article yesterday, reflected on it all evening and thought about it again this morning! I think it’s really important to make a distinction between happiness and well being. We should all strive for a permanent state of well being – meaningful connections with other human beings, engaging and fulfilling ways of filling our days, strong physical health and a rich, stable mental state that allows us to flourish and grow. All of this in the light and shade of life’s complexities!

    ‘Happiness’ is a by-product of well-being and our focus should always be on attaining well-being first or we risk putting the proverbial cart before the horse! Well-being is within us and it takes a shift in thinking to realise you need to work from the inside out to lay the foundations for ‘happiness’.

    Even asking yourself if you’re happy is counter-productive as it shouldn’t be the goal but the reflection – ‘Am I happy?’ What, now? No, now, I’m hungry. But I’m alive. And for that, I am happy.

  • MaryRose

    This is quite possibly my favorite post that I have read on the site, full stop. (I should mention I have been reading weekly only a few months after it launched). Based on my own experiences searching for happiness, I think you’ve hit a very key idea that so much of happiness is about being here right now for the moment – being centered between what was and what will become, you know past PRESENT future, present is always centered – and when we get there it automatically quiets the mind, you know longer constantly analyze the past or always worry about how life will look in five years. I think happiness is firstly for ourselves and a chosen way to process the world, and despite a shitting day if we have found and chosen happiness we can walk away still happy, even if our neighbor cannot see it.

  • Molly

    This article reminds me a lot about my depression & people I know with depression. No matter how happy you are in any given moment, the sadness of knowing that moment will soon be over and you will again be in the darkness is often times overwhelming.

  • Liz Romero

    I’ve recently questioned happiness. What really does it mean? And I realize you’re right. It’s a moment. It doesn’t have to be all the time but it’s many moments and I realize, I’m actually happy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Rebekah

    Dang girl.
    I get it. And getting meta about it is the wooorst, but sometimes so necessary–processing the feelings I’d rather not acknowledge, let alone discuss.

    I think it’s important to differentiate between being happy and having joy. Because happiness is a feeling. Some days (weeks, seasons of life, etc) pass without happiness even being an option. Yet there can be a foundational joy that gives comfort and rest even in those unhappy periods that are just the shits. Those moments of leaving and putting away that clean, dry wine glass are easier to digest because they will be filled again. And the hustle in-between does add up. We may not have built a beautiful table to show the world but we wrote, we organized, we analyzed, we progressed, we affected someone. And that understanding persists past happiness. Which i think (feel, even?) is Joy.
    But those are just my thoughts.

    Happy (?) Sunday.

  • I’m already buying this book in Amazon… I feel completely identified with your description of always thinking about what we did and what are we going to do… I feel that everything that I’m doing is for the purpose of a second step… only a few times I realise that I’m really enjoying the moment, and year after year this moments decrease.

    Check out my latest Michael Kors jumpsuit look!
    http://www.mgluxurymarket.com/khaki-vs-bougainvilleas-for-a-summer-evening/

    Bests!!

  • Komal Kazim

    It’s funny because I ask myself the same question constantly, and I
    always wonder if people who have the things I tend to conflate with
    happiness make *them* happy. For example, just reading about your
    weekend at your parent’s place in Southampton, I wondered, “Is this life
    for some people? To casually mention this sort of luxury, and then
    question their own happiness?” But I guess that isn’t what does it for
    any of us, is it? It’s like that episode of the Office where Andy Bernard says something to effect of wishing he knew he was in the good old days before he left them.

    Anyway, I appreciated this post.

  • It was only a few weeks ago that I discovered monocycle and it has helped me SO MUCH! I have only recently just finished from university and instead of just enjoying my summer of lazing around until mid-moring, baking whenever I feel like, having this stretch of time to do whatever I like, I’m just worried about my future and it’s the unknown that forever scares me. and it’s in every aspect of life, i can’t leave the living room to go to use the bathroom because the big spider in the corner of the room could be just about ANYWHERE when i get back, i can’t date the cute guy that’s showing interest in me cuz what if he turns out to be an asshole, I cant i cant i cant. i just wrap myself in a bubble and sit cozily worrying about everything. anyway, some times i just wake up feeling sad because i don’t enjoy the present and that’s when the monocycle episode helped, i think what helps is just getting on with things, just doing stuff like just getting out of bed and brushing your teeth will automatically start making you feel better. I also think that my unhappiness can stem from all these expectations that i have of myself, so i’m striving to be more humble and not caring about what others think is also great which can also stem from arrogance….like if someone thinks negatively of me, that will probably hurt because i expect people to think good of me? and isn’t that a little arrogant to think everyone should think highly of you? i dunno if i am way off topic here but letting go of those expectations has helped…a little, it takes practice! but practice eventually becomes habit/routine. and also being your own grandma helps (i read that on rookie) isn’t it so easy to look at the past and just think oh whatever was i worried about, it always looks prettier the present looks a mess and the future scary but the past for me is always great. so be your own grandma and take advice from 75 year old you, what would she say to current you?

  • dandhop

    Recently, I found myself thinking a lot of happiness and it’s relevance to “living in the moment” I read this poem and here’s my FB post which ties right into this lovely short story…sharing~~~

    August 23 at 7:58am · New York ·

    I want to share this Sanskrit poem by Kalidasa, an Indian playwright, and
    poet who was active during the 4th and 5th Century AD. It inspires me
    to make the most of each day, and I hope it will do the same for you. In
    essence, the message is: not let the illusions of your past or future
    rob you of the infiniteness of your present.

    Look to this day,
    for it is life, the very breath of life.
    In its brief course lie
    all the realities of your existence;
    the bliss of growth,
    the glory of action,
    the splendor of beauty.
    For yesterday is only a dream,
    and tomorrow is but a vision.
    But today, well lived,
    makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
    and every tomorrow
    a vision of hope.
    Look well, therefore, to this day.

    ~~~~Kalidasa

  • Mary Tarpinian

    While constant happiness would be too exhausting, sometimes I feel what I call “unexpected moments of bliss”. They may happen when I’m running errands and driving home and its a picture perfect day. Or I may be gardening and being “in the moment”. It is an actual feeling of a little wave that travels over my entire body, that,in that moment, makes me feel entirely at peace and totally content. Almost a “divine reminder” that my life is good and I have many blessings to be happy and thankful for.

  • Lenam Mahj

    Not sure how I missed this article over the summer. But this might be my favorite thing I have read on Man repeller.

  • Zoe Harewood

    Give of yourself to those less fortunate and go to swing jive classes (most fun you can have standing up). You’re welcome.

  • Jennifer

    I think you need more Heather Havrilesky/Ask Polly in your life.

Feedback