Happiness. I gave it another thought and said it again in my head. Happiness. What is this happiness that I cannot seem to come on terms with? I considered it to be easy, for it’s the first thing you’re taught and the only lesson that you must remember- to be happy. However, it’s the one I never quite learnt well enough. I sat there by the window, looking like the storm that was raging outside. My hair was a mess and my eyeliner had gone wrong. I thought about it again, as I did about the people around me, and speculated over what made them happy- whether it was a feeling but natural, or were they like me- who always felt a void. Grabbing a notepad and a pen, I jotted down names and listed things conjecturing what made them happy. Some- I knew for certain, and some I did not. I kept repeating the word over and over inside my head, hoping to grasp the true essence of it. It felt like years would pass me by, and I still wouldn’t know for sure what it truly meant.
Cue to my never-ending thoughts, I hugged myself and continued to ponder over it. It surprised me how long it actually took for me to pen down a simple emotion. With regard to the people around me, I knew for certain that music made them happy. Poetry put into sounds, graphic and abstract kept them contented. Some liked to write- it helped them vent, and it was an art of expression. My best friend indulged in more TV shows than he could keep up with, and took my daily rants about how he was making his eyesight worse. And the other workaholics that I had the pleasure of being acquainted with- simply liked to be drowning in work. But even as I continued to think of it, these were means of escaping reality. So is that what happiness had grown to become? An escape from reality? Were people really not happy with their life, so much so that they needed a loophole, an escape route?
With having my perception slightly wavered, I thought of other simple and underrated things that would not generally get noticed, but we’d still think of them at night before we fell asleep and forget about them before the crack of dawn. Was it the feeling one gets after dipping their fingers in a hot water bowl on a cold winter’s night? Or hugging a tub of your favorite ice cream flavor, and watching yourself gobble the entire thing down? Is it the simplicity in truth? Or the truth in simplicity?
Could happiness ever be defined by words, but bundled and piled by experiences? Some criticize my perception of this feeling by debating that I haven’t felt the ‘joie de vivre’. So I asked them to elucidate what happiness was to them, to me. Each one of them jotted down ‘wants’ extremely superficial, conveniently neglecting the purpose of my text. I wanted to be briefed about happiness, not the joys of having your wants fulfilled.
If it were up to me, I’d define happiness as a cold shower on a hot day, eating food I have craved for, for ages, someone hugging me from behind, and a good haircut. Having said all this to him, he looked at me with such skepticism, I felt like I’d given a wrong answer with considerable confidence. He shook me by my shoulders and looked me in the eyes. As I regained my composure, he said, “Happiness is knowing that you’re going to be in trouble, that you’re going to mess things up, but you do it either way. It’s what you feel when you look into a loved one’s eyes, and know the familiarity of home, and pride. It’s knowing that someone stays up, just to check up on you. Knowing that people around you want you to be happy. It’s discovering a new talent or checking things off your bucket list. It was finding your soul mate, and knowing they feel the same. Happiness is finding your favorite flavor of chocolate. It was crying your heart out to someone, and knowing that it wouldn’t change a thing. You silly little girl, happiness is all around you; take a leap of faith. You’ll find it.”
I gave him a timid smile and nodded, not completely convinced because I realized that everything that he had mentioned would never make me happy. It would make me content. So was my happiness synonymous to contentment, or did we both define it differently? Oh, back to the same rut. Could happiness ever be truly defined? The cynic in me would say it doesn’t exist, oh, but does it?
How can you ever narrow down an emotion so vivid, that the seven billion population of the world defined it with varying syllables and adjectives? Happiness, to me, will always remain undefined, and the closest thing to contentment. I can only hope to feel its true essence, and until then, I think I’ll seek contentment in being content.