I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”
Last week, as I struggled to find some medium between what I should be happy about, and what I should and should not be worried about, and feeling sad about not fully being happy, this quote was posted on instagram. It was so fitting, so perfect, and led the path to some miraculous turn of events that touched my soul deeper than I could or can articulate.
Please bare with me as I try my best.
Full and undoubted happiness is something that many portray as easily attainable- something that is constant. Easily attainable happiness for an extended period of time has been lost on me for some years. Growing up the way I grew up, yes we were happy, we were unconditionally loved, but we didn’t live life with a silver spoon, or even less, to think that life was full of roses and daisies. We had a great life, but struggle at times was evident, and happy times was something my mother taught us not to take for granted. My mother decided to teach us to reach for something larger, more fulfilling moments if you will. As a kid it seemed like everyone grew up this way. Everyone had occasional struggles, and then had amazing times as well. Some of us had it harder than others, and that was okay too. As a young woman I believed those struggles, made me more resilient, more aware, less naive. Life is fun, people are amazing, but my upbringing, it wouldn’t let me forget that some of it isn’t what it seems. As much as there is good in this world, there is bad, and all we can do is hope we are mostly surrounded in good. Through it all, I have accepted and I am humbled by the fact that I in fact did see the bad. That there are pieces of me that are still quite broken, and pieces get fixed, replaced, and at times- broken again. I felt that this was all a part of this experience called life.
Years went on, and I grew. I had a baby, a husband, we were and are doing amazing in a financial aspect, I lost a baby, and now I am pregnant again. Recently, I laid in bed some nights, sad internally with that fact that I am not happy consistently. My peers seem to be hit with the constant happiness bug and I have yet to be bitten. I am only left to fight with the why. Why am I not consistently happy with these life changing events? Some of which I’ve cried and prayed over within myself.
Because happiness is not what I should seek always, or maybe ever. In fact constant happiness does not even exist.
I was raised this way, and it’s quite astonishing, that somehow in the midst of receiving and getting things taken away and receiving again I’ve forgotten this. Wholeness, a lesson my mother fully believed in. Something that has shaped me into a more confident woman, I had forgotten until that day on instagram.
Truth is, there is no such thing as happiness all of the time. Hugh Mckay articulated it perfectly. That time I had it all, that time that I didn’t, that time I lost the baby, that time I got pregnant again and started a business, and that time that I tossed internally over not actually being consistently happy about the new life changes, they are making me whole. All of the things that I am proud of and that I am broken over they contribute to the woman I will be one day. The woman who -hopefully- with old age, life changing events, and gray hair is much wiser and much more fulfilled, instilling these same lessons into her grandchildren who will also struggle with the idea of constant happiness.
So, today, coming out and being honest, saying that there are parts of me that are broken, days that I am achingly miserable from past struggles and new worries, and days where the happiness and joy shines across my face in the most obnoxious display, they fill my soul so deep.
Wholeness is what I seek, and all of the parts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow will contribute to it.