Are you happy?
It’s a simple enough question. Or at least, it should be. But how often does that question stump someone? Well, does the questioner mean right in this moment? Or in general? Are there things in your life that make you happy? And then maybe you might even start thinking about what could make you happier. Because when you stop to think about being happy, you get taken out of the moment.
Happiness is on my mind, not because of any defining happy moment, but after finishing a book about the search for a happy place. Literally. The book was more of an investigative piece about happiness than a travelogue (which is initially why I picked it up). I didn’t pick up The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World because I was feeling particularly grumpy, but I was intrigued by the idea of a sense of place creating happiness. It’s so much more than a sense of place, it’s all of it. It’s a place, a place’s history, a culture and present-day attitudes.
Eric Weiner explored countries at all ranges of the happiness spectrum (Iceland – happy, Moldova…quite a bit less so), and all across the planet. There were common themes that I’ve come across in myriad articles, such as trust, relationships, but then also very different approaches to happiness. From a que sera, sera attitude to karmic lessons, to a gung-ho ‘I’m going to find my happiness’.
There are these beautifully serene moments where it has struck me: “I’m happy.”
Right now, in that very moment. It didn’t matter whether I was annoyed earlier about the car that almost hit me as I crossed the street (a common event in DC), or stuck in traffic, or having come face-to-face with a rude person. It didn’t matter what tomorrow might bring. The moment came and I consciously recognized it as a moment of bliss and let it go. I am happy, here and now, and I’m not going to think about it anymore. I’m just going to enjoy it. And interestingly enough, that brief acknowledgement let me hold onto the moment longer.
Those moments can strike anywhere. I’ve had them sipping coffee on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, on an airplane home after a long couple of months, driving on the highway with one of my favorite songs turned up, standing at the base of Ta Prohm, or gazing at Liberty Leading the People in the Louvre. Some moments happen in exotic locales with the recognition of an incredible lifetime experience, and others are just ordinary afternoons. It’s a patio dinner with friends, a shared bottle of wine and lots of laughter, and so many other moments.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
-Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
- Omar Khayyam