How do we measure happiness? Is it by the depth of our laughter? The consistency of good moods over bad ones? Is it the extent of the smile? Is it a smirk? Is it when all your teeth are showing? Maybe, it’s when people look at your life, what you have to show for yourself and think, Man she must have it all, I bet she is so happy.
We as human beings spend a great deal of time concerned with nature and attainment of happiness. If you were to approach any newsstand today you would most certainly find magazine covers littered with headlines about how to be “truly happy,” how to “live the life you’ve always dreamed of,” or “5 ways to get to your happiest today!” I know I personally have purchased magazines or books of this nature hoping that one will, somehow, impart to me some valuable secret that will cause me to yell aloud, “AHA! AT LAST I HAVE FOUND THE KEY TO ULTIMATE HAPPINESS, NEVER A BAD DAY AGAIN FOR THIS GAL!”
Alas, these types of moments are rare if at all existent. I do not doubt that books, magazines, and the advice of your most successful, “happiest” friend can aid you in attaining happiness, but relying on these sorts of resources often, in my opinion, leads to a sort of attitude crapshoot. I think one of the means of gaining happiness is having open eyes and an open heart to the world around you. Because, while there’s a great deal of destruction and misfortune in the world, there are also displays — however small — of happiness all around. Like witnessing a child, or perhaps a gaggle of children, running towards something they are excited about.
The summer after my Sophomore year of college I was a camp counselor for an overnight camp where I was in charge of 6-to-9- and 7-to-9-year-old girls each week. Every day there was an hour or so allocated to time at the swimming pool. And it’s hard not to miss watching a child run towards a swimming pool. I would watch the girls run across the field that lay before the swimming pool with arms flailing wildly and laughter projected into the air. Sheer, unbridled, happiness. These girls did not care what they looked like, who was watching, or that to some adults this sort of excitement over an activity might seem silly or juvenile. They just didn’t care. For a brief moment, any and all of their troubles, worries from home, or aggravation over the lack of juice boxes during snack time completely vanished. Every day I looked forward to trailing behind and bearing witness to this happiness until one day I decided to join in, reveling nostalgically in this kind of sheer simple joy that seems harder to come by the older we get.
Happiness is immeasurable and, guess what? The more you try to measure your happiness or standardize it based on what you think other people believe happiness should look like, the harder it will be to attain. You’ll find you’re running — no, sprinting — after something that will evade you no matter how hard you try. So stop trying to measure your happiness; just feel and cherish it whenever it arises and you won’t have to chase it. In time, happiness will become an old friend who’s always there for you even in the darkest of times to remind you that there is hope.
Everyone has bad days, weeks, even years, but if you stop chasing, you will begin to see this old friend — happiness — in the people you love and even the more mundane moments too. Happiness is yours to have; don’t measure it, judge it, or chase it. Let it arise, let it greet you, and let it become the old friend who takes your hand and walks with you through a life filled with gratitude and joy.