Happiness Happens Month was started by the Secret Society of Happy People in August 1998. It was established to celebrate happiness with the understanding that celebrating our own happiness can be contagious to those around us. It encourages an environment of positivity and joy. I decided to write about Happiness Happens Month because when I read that there is such a month, I was resistant to it. I didn’t want to downplay the struggles that life can present. Statistics have shown that there has been a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide since the pandemic. By writing this blog post, I didn’t want to minimize anyone’s struggle to find happiness.
After some thought, however, I found I liked the idea of “Happiness Happens.” When I find happiness elusive, it is because I’m looking at it from the viewpoint of happiness being a milestone. That if I achieve certain things that I think will make me happy, then I should be happy, right? I have found that an impossible measure of what makes life happy. Like so many of us, I have come to learn that life is filled with challenges that we endure and through that endurance we find strength. The phrase “Happiness Happens” says to me that it can happen at any moment in any circumstance. That amid a day we’re merely enduring, happiness can be sparked by a simple gesture, a fun interaction with another, a joke. It is the small things that ignite happiness.
One of the most effortless ways I connect to happiness is focusing on the moment and paying attention to what is going on around me. The worry of yesterday or tomorrow melts away and I’m able to focus on the simplicity of the moment. I know that right here, right now, all is well. What brings me happiness is the safety and security of the present moment. In Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now,” he says, “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.”
My experience has shown that the pressure and desire to be happy can cause unhappiness. When asked “are you happy?” I don’t know how to answer the question. Because what does happiness really mean? Is life exactly as I’d hoped it would be? It’s not, but that’s the reality of being human. So, what is happiness? May I suggest that it’s a state of mind, not a state of being. It’s finding the joy amidst the ups and downs of each day. That in the darkest moment, a spark of happy can show itself and lift the heaviness. That in the brightest of moments, we can celebrate the happiness that we feel and relieve the pressure of trying to maintain that moment. The moments of happiness will always show themselves, but it is our task to feel them.
Happiness cannot be measured by anyone but ourselves. Our happiness depends on our ability to live life on life’s terms. Living in a way that honors the struggle while embracing the joy that simple moments create. I don’t believe that happiness is black or white … that we are either happy or unhappy. I believe that the full array of emotions and moments in between is what fills our life and embracing the variety of life and emotions is how happiness happens.