There’s an overused word. That’s my opinion of course… but I’ve given it a lot of thought over the course of the last five or six years… that’s a long time to be thinking on one word, I know, but… the mere fact that it’s so frequently in my face has made it impossible not to notice it. “Happy Birthday!” “Happy Anniversary!” “Happy Easter!” I could go on… and I think I shall.
I think I know what “happy” is… or means… I believe it to be a slightly higher level of elevation of feeling good but not so much elevated that one could refer to the state as “joy.” “Joy” I get, because it seems sort of explosive and doesn’t seem to imply much of a state of duration. Same with “ecstasy,” which seems similar to joy but at some marvelously exponential level. Been there, experienced that. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been “happy.” Happy seems kind of… honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know because I don’t get it… I certainly cannot remember any time I have experienced in my entire life that I would have identified as myself being “happy.”
I’m delighted from time to time. I have friends whom I delight in being with. I delight in painting. My husband delights me on a regular basis. For me ‘delight’ requires engagement of some sort, something I am actively involved in. I’ve been thrilled. I’ve certainly been ecstatic! (happily, somewhat frequently… and that’s not ironic because I can “be happy about” something in the moment; it’s just not something I entertain as a state of mind.)
What I am, most of the time is content.
I love being content. It’s a peaceful way to be. It’s like being perfectly satisfied with whatever is going on at the time and, either I simply am content or I can remind myself to be.
Now, certainly there are times when the situation one is in doesn’t lend to being content: being stuck in an hours-long traffic jam, having to wait for hours in an “emergency” room, things like that… but guess what? You can actually train yourself to be content. I have. It makes all the difference in the world. I have a little help with that as I have a tattoo on my left inner arm that says, “Surely Universe is unfolding as it should.” The tat is on my arm specifically for re-minding me that, as some folks say, “What is, is.” My mother used to say ““Surely Universe is unfolding as it should.” every time I would come to her with what I felt were very valid complaints about some situation or another that I had been involved in usually through no fault of my own, (honest! I’m not, by nature, a complainer), she’d hit me with “Surely Universe is unfolding as it should.”
I hated it at the time. But, over the decades, I have come to embrace it. I had a childhood that was, to say the least, challenging. It resulted in some very poor decision-making on my part as an adult. But life gifted me with a kick-ass case of diffuse progressive systemic sclerosis in my 40’s that was slated to kill me because that’s what it does and surrendering to that process changed me as a person. Such unlikely events occurred because of it that I finally got it. I learned to be content. I had to learn, or I would have been unable to live with myself. It was too much to handle, physically and mentally, so I surrendered and my life since then has been, for the most part, pleasant and comfortable because I’m content.
I’m not saying that everything in life is exactly as I’d like it — I have a sadness that I carry — it might be termed “Weltschmerz” which, loosely translated from the German, means “world sorrow,” but I’ve accepted that what is, is and I am content. I suppose that “acceptance” and “content” may go hand-in-hand. The only thing I have any control over in my life is me, so I choose to be, where and whenever possible, content.