Maybe This Is What Happiness Is

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done and he did it.

—Edgar Guest

I’ve always believed in the adage “actions speak louder than words.” I’ve never been one to seek guidance from commercial catch phrases, trending tweets, or song lyrics. But Guest’s poem did make me smile. Whether it was the playfulness of the verse or just the simplicity of the message, it spoke volumes to me.

Easy, right? Well, maybe for Edgar, but not so much for myself. Laden with insecurities, fear, and self-doubt, I’ve often felt paralyzed to confront obstacles, the largest being happiness and self-worth.

In the past, when my mom saw me down or struggling, she’d often ask, “Are you happy?” or “What would make you happy?” These were scary questions for me, because I had no answer. I would always just say, “I’m fine” and quickly change the subject.

To be honest, without looking up the definition I couldn’t tell you for sure what “happy” means. I guess it means something different to each of us. I wanted to be successful at a career and in a relationship. Both were at a dead end.

I didn’t even know which to tackle first. I was embarrassed to try to date because I wasn’t successful career wise, so I stopped. I didn’t want to end up dating someone and getting my happiness from them, only to be depressed again when the relationship ended, so I knew I had to focus on myself first. Still, that proved challenging.

I am the king of to-do lists. I singlehandedly support the Post-it industry. I used to approach each day the same: with a list of things to do. I would go to the library straight after work and pursue my list. Then, as I stared at it, fear, anxiety, and confusion would set in.

My list was filled with tasks to help me fulfill my goals of a career and life I could be happy and proud of. But as day turned to evening, I’d feel a sense of despair as I heard that faithful announcement “ten minutes till close,” since again, I’d gotten nothing accomplished. I would head home and try another feeble attempt at staying up all night to get more done, to no avail.

This would go on for several days, months, even years. After reading Guest’s poem, I knew my biggest problem was that my goals were not clear. I knew I had the determination and want.

My search for self-worth led me to win a fitness competition, act on stage, do charity work, run marathons, and even a try out for a professional baseball team. Those accomplishments made me happy for the moment, but when they ended, I was back to feeling depressed, sorry for myself, and mostly, just lost.

Nothing seemed to bring me the sustained happiness I searched for. That is why I felt safe when I was cast in a show. It gave me a three-month hiatus from being myself. I could entrench myself into something else and avoid the problem: me. Even my insecurity issues would subside a bit during this time. A task or project would redirect my focus from worry and negative thoughts.

When the task or project ended, my insecurity would come back with a vengeance. Void of something to preoccupy myself with, I would become obsessed with trying to find happiness, success, and self-worth. The problem was that I still could not define what happiness was or what it would feel like. [Read More…]

Source: Tiny Buddha

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