Of Tea, Cabbages, and Happiness

When asked “Are you happy? If so, how do you know?” my only answer for the last few years has been a deep breath. My most normal answer has been, “I’m OK” when asked about nearly anything.

That said, happiness and I aren’t strangers. I know when I see her and she’s always beautiful with a quick smile and comfortable clothes. She’s always in comfortable clothes. She speaks like we haven’t ever broken the conversation and never demands to know why it’s been so long since we’ve texted.

I find most of these moments in the mundane as that is where I have learned to seek them and by “them” I mean “her”.

The list of things that makes me happy is surprisingly long, but I’ll share a few moments where I found it:

  • A week-long cruise in which I had uninterrupted alone time to do nearly anything at my whim. I read this book for that time and wrote in my journal.
  • A week I spent in Italy last year. My fitbit got 20K steps every day. I didn’t think about home. I didn’t think about bills. I didn’t think about budget. I didn’t wonder about where I would go or what I would do. I was full with where I was and who was there whether a family or my own shadow.
  • A walk in the late spring. Days are longer, the sun is warm, the wind caresses my face. I am content.
  • The first two hours when my house is empty.
  • The feeling of warm sheets right after a shower.
  • My grandmother’s laughter.
  • The time I saw a father playing football with his daughter.

Which is to say, it is rarely where I wish it and often where I don’t look for it. It feels like contentment. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll quote the Bible here:

In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.

Deutoronomy 28:67 (NIV)

This is a curse. Always wishing for a different moment or place or time. Happiness, which is what connects all the moments above, is the opposite of that. I do not wish for more than that moment. I don’t even wish to repeat the moment. I just have that moment and I am content in both its coming and going.

Is that a repeatable thing? Maybe. I know that among those moments, I’m:

  • Thinking of what I want to give or create.
  • Relaxed.
  • Breathing deeply.
  • Walking slowly.
  • Observant of my surroundings.
  • I’m appreciative without even trying.

I have also found that, when I do these things, happiness will sometimes let me know she got that text and stop by and say hello in the form of someone’s very happy dog.

Then again, happiness isn’t one for picking a form I prefer. Just one that I’ll recognize… and I think that’s just fine.

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