The pursuit of happiness.

Dad and Anna, beach

We are constantly being told how we deserve to be happy.

“As long as you’re happy.”

“Make yourself happy.”

“If it makes you happy, then do it.”

“If it’s not making you happy all the time, why do it?”

We’re told to smile, keep our chins up, keep on truckin’, do what makes us happy. I think that we forget that this never-ending pursuit of happiness is not necessarily the end goal, but rather a simplistic vision of what we think we deserve all the time. A common misconception of what happiness should be is that if you are truly happy you won’t have moments of pain, suffering, or weakness- that true happiness lies in a life of zen, constant fullness in every carnal way, and being surrounded by positive things at every possible moment.

Even when we’re kids, we are pummeled with the idea that being happy all of the time at whatever cost is the most important and vital thing in life and to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. But really, who have you met that is happy, truly happy, all of the time? I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t bear the burden of…life. Even the stars, the rich, the famous- they struggle with all of the same things we little people do: heartbreak, money issues (not having enough isn’t the only problem that can be had with money), substance abuse, loneliness, fear, self loathing, narcissism, death.

Since my move or the decision to make my move, I’ve had a lot of bad days. I’ve had panic attacks and had reservations about my sensibilities and choices. Those are not happy moments, they’re moments filled with terror of the unknown, self questioning, and serious bouts of loneliness. I’ve cried quietly on my mom’s couch, when talking to her while processing everything about growing up, moving forward and abroad and then back home, in my dreams, and sometimes just hearing a song in the car when driving around the streets that I knew so well, now guided by Google Maps.

That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for where I am. Bad days, days when I don’t feel happy and would rather be numb (listening to Tove Lo, “Habits”), during moments of ambiguity of how my curious life will progress- those are going to keep coming. They won’t stop coming with a gorgeous loft apartment, a great salary, incredible travel adventures, for romance or even friendship: bad days are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still be happy. I’ve been known to put up a guard like all things are shiny and golden all of the time and that’s something I need to reckon with. I can have serious bouts of frustration, anger, fear, and everything in between yet still be happy on a very deep level.

Consider the bad days, sometimes earth shatteringly bad, as experiences and moments that heighten the good days, that help you appreciate everything whether positive or negative for the different facets of growth they give, and for imparting a sense of reality. We’ve got some #firstworldproblems that we think will ruin us. I’ve got a secret for you: they won’t. And if we let go of the tight grasp we have on some of those problems, it allows for our hands to be open for something even better, for gifts undeserved to be given and also to be in a position to give freely. Giving feels amazing, we should all do it more.

Some people only have what we would consider bad days, yet they are the happiest alive: the idea that we constantly have to be experiencing good, wonderful, clean, beautiful, pain-free life to be happy is one that’s been intrenched in what we believe for years.

I say bring on the deafening sadness, the heart wrenching pain, the blood, sweat, and tears. From that, I’ll only build on what I already have been fortunate to be given- and move towards a higher goal than daily happiness and instead, one of everlasting peace.

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