La Dolce Vita : Contemplation of Happiness

I often contemplate happiness.

I am pretty happy right now. I am pretty low stress. Not to say I don’t worry, but after my last five years you learn what is stress worthy and what isn’t.

I used to think that happiness was my bank account and the amount of expensive impressive things I had. Then I realized it made me happy more that people admired those things than they actually ever made me happy. Then I lost all that and realized that I was happier when it was all gone. It wasn’t an immediate realization. First I was pretty bummed. It was a slow growing awareness that came after six months of anguish and then I realized an  albatross had vacated my life. The things you own, own you.

Then I thought perhaps happiness would be being in love. To find a soul mate that would make me laugh and take me on adventures, be smart enough to understand my invention ideas and discuss history specials we gladly watch together on television. To be different enough to make life interesting but same enough to make life comfortable. But then I realize happiness can’t be contained in a mate. Happiness has to exist already and the relationship is just fertilizer to bring it to full bloom.

Then I thought perhaps happiness is the perfect career. A career that is less a job than a calling. But the fact is that no matter what you do there are going to be times when you are sick of it.  When you hate it. There are going to be days when you just can’t bring yourself to do another days worth of whatever it is you are doing. Happiness isn’t your job, but it helps to enjoy your work.

Then I thought it could be your physical location. Sometimes I think I would like to live in Charleston because I like all the history and old buildings. Sometimes I think I would be happy living back in Pennsylvania, or North Carolina, with the woods surrounding me. Other times I think I would like to live in a city where I could soak up the vitality – but I know a city wouldn’t keep me happy. I need calm. Quiet. Little breaks in the woods where a blanket can be thrown on the ground, a sandwich eaten, a nap taken. Escape routes. Sheds. Dogs roaming and laying around in the yard.

My final conclusion about happiness is that the only place it can truly be found is in your heart. To be able to smile, to laugh, after pain and sorrow. To move forward courageously with the knowledge that it will be good days in the future. To be able to find joy in the little things – as trite and cliché as that may sound. Because to only appreciate big things is a recipe for malcontent.

I believe the ABILITY to be happy is an internal thing and all the others are just gravy.

So to me happiness isn’t money. It isn’t an island retreat. It isn’t in another person. It isn’t in a thing.

It is me, waking up, smiling and finding humor in everything. Having courage and optimism and strength and laughter.

Not to say that you never have pain, but realizing that like any wound the pain will eventually end and a scar will form, a lesson learned.

That life is constantly changing and evolving and that for the most part is a beautiful, glorious, breath taking delicious adventure.

La Dolce Vita, my friends.

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