You’re 7 years old. Happiness comes in the form of your favorite toy, or your parents taking you for a Happy Meal after a long, hard day in the second grade. Happiness comes in the form of running through the grass on a warm summer day. You turn on the sprinklers and get to dance in the rain you created. Happiness comes in the form of an icey pop you get to eat, after tirelessly chasing down the ice cream man because it took too long for you to find a dollar in change.
Happiness comes freely and easily.
You’re 11 years old. You just started middle school and your new school clothes make you feel invincible. Happiness now comes in the form of notes being passed to your best friend. You both share the same Geography class together and chuckle at the piece of food stuck in the teachers tooth. Happiness comes with your school field trips and the idea of missing class for the day to goof off with your best friends somewhere else. You go to a museum the sixth grade counsel saw fit and touch all the items when your chaperone isn’t watching. Happiness comes in the form of discovering the internet and using AIM to talk to your friends when you are stuck at home. You can put discreet messages or obscure song lyrics in your AIM profile aimed towards your crush so you don’t have to say it directly. Happiness comes in the form of getting dirty playing sports with your neighbors or chasing them down the street in a good game of tag.
Happiness is still easy to acquire.
You’re 15 years old. You just started high school. You finally understand how to dress better and want to make a name for yourself. This is high school, you can’t be the same old dork anymore. Happiness comes in the form of hoping you get your license on your 16th birthday, and possibly a car. You probably won’t get the car, but it’s nice to cross your fingers and hope otherwise. Happiness comes in the form of a boyfriend or girlfriend. You finally decided to put yourself out there and it worked out (we hope). Happiness comes in the form of school clubs and social time with your friends. You joined the soccer team or cheerleading squad or football or baseball. These are your times to shine. You love the taste of gatorade after a long game or cheer session. Happiness comes in the form of sleepovers, so you can all sneak out and meet the boys down the road. You don’t do anything, but you feel badass because you climbed through the window despite your parents wishes not to. Happiness comes in the form of finding yourself after dealing with puberty hell in middle school. Happiness still comes quite easy.
You’re 18 years old. You just graduated high school and are looking forward to starting college. Whether or not it’s university or community college, or even none at all. Happiness comes in the form of good grades, little homework, and extra time to sleep in during the week now that high school is in the past. Happiness comes in the form of your significant other attending the same school you are, or at least living close. You’ve made it this far, you hope to keep it going. Happiness comes in the form of realizing who your true friends are. You lost a few in high school, and gained new ones, but either way, you got to see who stuck around. Happiness comes in the form of being able to find your independence. You are now 18. Mom or Dad can’t tell you what to do anymore (at least that’s what you tell yourself, and they tell you “as long as you are under this roof, you will listen to us and obey our rules”). Happiness comes in quitting that awful part time job you got to give you some extra cash in high school for your phone bill or clothes, or anything else you may have needed it for. Reality is about to hit you, and you realize that happiness is getting harder to find.
You’re 21 years old. You are finally able to drink, even though you probably did it anyways before this moment. Happiness comes in realizing you are growing into the person you have always wanted to be. You know yourself better than you ever have, and you are still learning every day. Happiness comes with a beer and a pool table at the local pub. Happiness comes in the form of driving to the beach with your friends for day drinking and sun tanning. You might surf, or maybe you’ll boogie board. Either way, the sun has so much to offer. Happiness comes in the form in realizing you are getting close to finishing school and finally being an adult. What you have always considered to be an adult, anyways. Happiness comes with that 2am talk you and your best friend have, bonding over all the things you love, and telling each other you will always be there. Happiness comes with running through the streets late at night, feeling like the world is in the palm of your hand. You can be anyone. You can do anything.
You can go anywhere. Life gets hard, but happiness is still around the corner.
You’re 25 years old. You are done with school and finding your career path. Happiness now comes when you drink and don’t experience a hang over the next day. You used to be able to drink like a sailor, but now if you don’t chug water before bed you will be nursing a hangover for the rest of the day. Happiness comes when you get off work early and can have time to catch up with a friend before falling asleep at 10pm. You used to stay up till 2am, but now you realize how much you cherish sleep after you gave so much of it up in your youth. Happiness comes when you can sneak a nap in between chores and errands you have to run. Happiness comes when you realize you are caught up on your bills and don’t need to worry for a while. You pulled a credit card out you shouldn’t have when you were 22 to buy that TV that seemed like such a good idea. And now you have finally paid it off. Happiness comes in loving yourself in a way you never have before, in a way you could never understand to when you were younger. You’ve seen some shit throughout life, but happiness is still with you.
You’re 30 years old. You just got married and have baby number two on the way. You met the love of your life when you ordered a coffee down the road and realized when you got in your car it wasn’t the right one. You go back inside and make eye contact with the most beautiful human you have ever seen. Fate took it from there. Happiness comes in waking up next to them, and falling asleep with them. Happiness comes in the form of watching your first child take its first steps, speak its first words, and eat its first meal. You never thought you’d see something so beautiful before. Happiness comes in the form of realizing you are halfway done paying your student loans. Why did you go to college anyways? You just owe a ton of money. Happiness comes in the form of a babysitter coming through last minute so you and your wife or husband can go enjoy a night out. You don’t get to spend too much time together, but finally you have a chance to connect once again over some dinner and drinks.
Life has been worse, and certainly even better at some points, but nonetheless, happiness is with you and around you.
Happiness has never been a consistent item in your life. But no matter what happened, happiness was always with you, and more importantly, all around you. If you think a destination holds your happiness, that you will have to work your way to it, you will never be happy. Take time to realize happiness is with you on the journey. Down the road, across the street, sitting next to you. You have it all along in every little thing, that you may sometimes overlook. Run in the grass. Call an old friend. Drink a beer. Kiss the love of your life. Tell someone how you feel.
But most importantly, just be happy.