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Maybe I Need to Redefine Happiness

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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.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure

Originally published: June 30, 2017
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