“I just want to be happy.”
So many times I have had friends look at me with tears in their eyes as they whispered those words. And my heart broke because I could see the pain and confusion they were feeling….and I could relate. I too have been the girl who sat crying, feeling lost and wondering where my happy went.
But what is happy?
Is it a feeling, a state of being, an action, a choice, a lifestyle?
Truthfully, I have no idea.
I did turn to google for an answer, and as always, it didn’t disappoint. I was provided with a rather long list of synonyms for the word that made me wonder if we’ve got it all wrong.
First up was a list that dealt with your outer appearance: smiling, beaming, grinning, radiant. So part of happy is a choice to plaster the smile on your face and look the part. “By all accounts, she appeared happy from the outside looking in.” In this case, it is easy to fool others into believing you are good when truthfully you are falling apart on the inside. This kind of happy can be deceptive.
Next was an abundance of synonyms that I would consider to be feelings: thrilled, exhilarated, ecstatic, overjoyed. All of these typically come as a result of something great happening to you. In this case, your happy is dependent on outside influence & the feeling may be fleeting once the circumstances change. “For the first time in a long time, she was happy because she was rewarded for her efforts at work.” What happens when the initial excitement wears off, does the feeling stick? This kind of happy is fickle.
Then it got a little deeper: pleased, content, satisfied, gratified. To me, these words imply a constant, unchanging foundation. So in other words, this kind of happy is not contingent on anyone or anything, it’s an inner peace that cannot be shaken. “She was happy with her life. Through the successes & failures, highs & lows, gains & losses…she was happy.” These kind of people don’t have different circumstances, they have a different attitude toward their circumstances. This kind of happy is steadfast.
So the question is: What kind of happy are you looking for? Is it a feeling that comes and goes based on the world around you? Or are you seeking a deeper sense of contentment that is firmly rooted in something that doesn’t waver?
“I have learned to be satisfied with what I have and with whatever happens. I know how to live when I am poor and when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of how to live through any kind of situation—when I have enough to eat or when I am hungry, when I have everything I need or when I have nothing. Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do.” (Philippians 4:11-13 ERV)