Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.
Ah, the elusive happiness. To tell you the truth, I think happiness is overrated. I just want you to be happy. I don’t care what my kids do as long as they are happy. If you’re not happy with _______, find another ______. We hear it all the time, don’t we? The pressure to be happy all the time is making us all quite miserable.
Recently I was thinking about the happiest days of my life. Big spoiler, my happiest days were not in high school. I find it seriously pathetic when people who are close to 50 years old say the best years of their lives were in high school. Haven’t you done anything with your life since then?? Maybe I’m just jealous because my high school years sucked.
Back in the day I was voted most likely to be a supermodel on the cover of Vogue by my high school senior class. Better than most likely to be barefoot and pregnant (won by a girl with 12 siblings who only had 1 kid) or most likely to never leave this small (sucky) town (won by my best friend who still lives there as far as I know). True story.
At 17, when I was in my prime for looks, my classmates thought I was the most beautiful girl in the class. That should’ve made me happy, right? At 17, I was going through a really hard time at home. I was really struggling with depression and coming to terms with the trauma I was experiencing. Some people seemed annoyed with me for not being happy. I was shamed for it. There were girls who got mad at me if their boyfriends checked me out. I was blamed for it. Don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways it was wonderful but it didn’t make me happy. If you really saw what I was going through on the inside, you wouldn’t want to be me on the outside.
This past summer an acquaintance told me she thinks I have the perfect life, the perfect family. (She obviously doesn’t read this blog). I do portray myself as having the dream life because like most of us I am really good at hiding. My husband started a company he built from nothing. After 20 years (10 years of me working with him) we sold the company to private equity. Now I live in my dream house complete with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, 3 fireplaces, and an indoor grill. My detached garage is twice the size of my old house complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. I probably never have to work again if I don’t want to.
I should be happy. I should have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. But with everything that happened with my dad and my daughter’s serious mental health issues, I again fell into a deep depression that has been hanging on for the past two years. Not to mention COVID. There were many a days I sat in my mansion dreaming of ending it all. How messed up is that?? None of the things that were supposed to bring happiness to my life did.
The happiest years of my life were when my kids were young. I was happiest when they were sitting on my lap and I was reading them a good book, Toad and Frog. Story times at the library. I was happy when we danced around in the living room to silly songs. The early childhood years when I stayed at home with the kids. When I drove a 10 year old minivan and lived in a small house. Back when we didn’t have any money, the poorest I’ve ever been in my life living on one income with 3 kids right after my husband started a business. Back when I had the extra baby weight to lose. After the sleepless nights of having little babies and before the sleepless nights of having teenagers. Those were the best years of my life so far and I didn’t even know it.
I feel like I am finally starting to pull myself out of this depression. Maybe the best years are ahead, maybe not. Regardless, looking back to the time of my life when I was the happiest made me recognize something very important. I wasn’t the happiest when I had the most money, was young, looked my best, achieved the most, or really had anything the world deemed as highly valuable. Quite the opposite in fact.
It’s a trap if you are searching for happiness in the wrong things. I will be happy when I lose some weight or have more money. I will be happier when I have what my neighbor has. I will be happy when I have a thousand more followers. I will be happy when I get that promotion or go on that vacation. I will be happy when I earn the diploma or get that medal.
I don’t have all the answers, but I know what happiness is not.