Maybe I Need to Redefine Happiness


I recently read this quote by Beau Taplin:

“I’m beginning to recognize that real happiness isn’t something large and looming on the horizon ahead, but something small, numerous and already here. The smile of someone you love. A decent breakfast. The warm sunset. Your little everyday joys all lined up in a row.”

It got me thinking about how I view and define happiness.

Depression has been in my life for so long that happiness is such a distant memory. I often find myself questioning whether I have ever felt it. I don’t think I can remember what it feels like.

My idea on what happiness is and how it feels is mainly based on my observations of people around me who I view as “happy,” from characters in books, films and from daydreaming about a life where I literally just feel the opposite of how I feel now.

I imagine happiness as this finish line I’ve been trying to get to — but it’s always too far out of reach. I imagine that achieving happiness will be like a huge reveal of a new and enlightening way of looking at life, a lasting moment of clarity where everything feels OK. I imagine that once achieved, I’ll have the ability to re-engage with “normal life,” and with it will come friends, experiences and opportunities I am currently missing out on.

Is my definition of happiness setting me up for an unrealistic and unachievable goal?

I want to try redefining happiness for myself. Maybe I’m too focused on this idea of it being this big life changing revelation, when it’s simply not true. Like Beau Taplin says, maybe it’s something small, numerous and already here. When I’m in the deep depths of my depression, my ability to see any positivity (whether it’s present or not) is non-existent – I’m completely consumed by my low mood and dark thoughts. Reflecting on it now, I can recognize that in my life, despite my illness, I am able to experience fleeting moments of joy. Instead of convincing myself that happiness is an enormous feat, an ultimate goal, I need to be acknowledging that I have felt it before and it’s actually always around.

My new goal is to recognize and appreciate the little moments in my life where my heart lightens or a smile or laugh escapes me. Happiness is still happiness no matter how small it seems to show or how short lasting it is. I want to work on growing the little bits of happiness already in me – and I will do this one day at a time.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

big hero 6 and breakfast club

30 Movies That Have Helped People Through Depression

When you’re fighting the fatigue, ruminating thoughts and feelings of hopelessness characteristic of depression, sometimes all you want to do is crawl into bed and watch a good movie. The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to watch when you’re feeling depressed. Maybe you’re looking for a movie that allows you to [...]
Group of young people sitting on conference together and smiling

The Unexpected Way Group Therapy Helped My Depression

When I started group therapy, I didn’t know what I was getting into. When I hear people say, “I don’t know what I’m getting into,” I tend to imagine the stereotypical sitcom reminiscent glance — up and to the right as the harp strings play the “Going Back In Time” soundtrack. In response to myself, [...]
black and white photo of hayley williams sitting on the ground next to picture of paramore's new album after laughter

Paramore's Hayley Williams Opens Up About the Hopelessness of Depression

Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams has been a punk rock idol for over a decade. Off the release of her band’s latest album “After Laughter,” Williams opened up in an intimate interview with The FADER, where she discusses the intensity of her mental health issues and the painfulness of a symptom far too many have experienced: hopelessness. While Williams, [...]
young woman looking out of window with building and tree outside

What My Stay in a Mental Hospital Taught Me About Life

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. When people hear, “I’ve been admitted to the mental hospital,” their automatic response is [...]