That was the question a friend of many years asked me recently.
“Huh?!” I asked.
“Well, you post all those upbeat, positive sayings on Facebook and you seem so happy all the time.”
My first thought was something along the lines of “Clearly, you do not read this blog, which is Ground Zero for my angst, my moods, my uncertainty and my mishegas.” (That’s a Yiddish catch-all phrase my grandmother would have used to describe the awesome/crazy that is me and maybe you, too.)
My second thought was, “Interesting, I’ve never thought of myself as positive before. Someone actually thinks I am positive?! I am anything but positive.”
My third thought was, “Can’t I just be real without having to label it “positive” or “upbeat” or giving it some title like ‘life coach’ that doesn’t even fit in this particular instance?”
My fourth thought, which is currently my final thought and one that took a few weeks from the time of that question to formulate, is something along the lines of this:
“Maybe she is mistaking perspective for happy/up.”
“Maybe she is seeing me learning to be OK with telling it like it is, whether ‘it’ is happy or shitty.”
“Maybe me coming into my own, finding my voice and not being afraid of either — while now a ‘given’ for me — is still new or unfamiliar for others.”
Perspective. Being real. Not being afraid. Remembering that not everyone is like me, and I am not like everyone.
And a realization that yes, just maybe, I have become what I never thought I had the ability to become.
Not rainbow-Snow White-positive affirmations-Kumbaya happy.
But it’s-ok-that-I-am-not-perfect-and-life-can-be-weird-but-I-will-still-survive happy.
The kind of happy that comes from seeing – over and over again – that the more I tell people how messy I and my life are, the more love — not judgment or scorn or disgust — I receive in return.
The kind of happy that lets me be OK with a shorter To-Do list or a lower rung on the “SuperWoman” scale.
The kind of happy that is still riding that up-and-down-not-always-happy Roller Coaster of Life, but that becomes easier and easier to come back to.
No, not the kind of happy that some will have you think is effortless, and easy and can be yours if you purchase their $97 or $497 “system” or buy their must-have book. That “happy” is a bunch of you-know-what that seems even worse after you buy it or do it.
No, what I am talking about is the kind of happy that is real. That actually makes sense. That lives in the place where you live and I live. The kind of happy that maybe seems easy and breezy but takes work.
The kind of happy that is actually based on not always being happy.
Yes, being happy takes work. Even if you have everything you ever wanted — your dream job, your dream guy/gal, your dream life — it takes work.
And what that work looks like specifically for me is different for you than it may be for me or for your best friend or significant other or next-door neighbor. That work is something that isn’t a one-time, or even a once-a-week thing.
That kind of happy is a daily thing: Effort. Action. Consistency.
For me, there is a very specific list of things that must occur in order for me to have that state of happy. These things must occur every day:
For instance, I must take a walk every single day. If I do not, it shows. Physically and mentally.
I must also write every single day. If I do not, it shows. Maybe not physically but mentally and emotionally and in other weird ways.
I must hit the ground running in the morning, which means a good night’s sleep the night before and a reasonable “To Do” list that I do before I go to sleep and that reflects not stupid things I said “yes” to or keep doing “because I have always done them” but who I truly want to be and where I want to go in my life, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that and so on.
I know that food plays a big role in my level of “happy.” When I have none in the house, I do stupid things (food-wise). When I do stupid things, my concentration and energy are shot. When my concentration and energy are shot, I am annoyed and annoying. And I feel fat to boot.
There are more things, but you get the idea. Some may be similar to yours, some not at all. But you have them. That I know for sure.
So therein lies the “secret” to being happy. It isn’t going to be found in a book or a product or from your eighth time watching “The Secret” (no pun intended).
It is in knowing. And then doing. Then adjusting. Trusting the knowing. Then doing more.
Yes, folks, that is the big secret, the one you may have thought that either you have to pay for or you will never figure out. It is free of cost (financial, at least) and it is yours for the taking:
Happiness is knowing that “up, keep going, down, keep going, repeat” is not an anomaly and is not weird and is not to be hidden or avoided.
“Up, keep going, down, keep going, repeat” is actually the way to happiness. It’s not easy. It takes work. It isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. (Yes, I know that being present and mindful and in the “now” is part of being happy, and I am not discounting that here.)
It’s no Messiah, but if you accept it, I guarantee your life will change in (for the better) ways that are both subtle and major.
But don’t take my word for it…