Redefining the Meaning of Happiness

If I had been given the opportunity to write about happiness a decade ago, I would’ve turned it down. I would’ve declined because I wouldn’t have known how to define “happiness.”

It was a time when I was figuring out life after being in a long-term relationship with my ex-boyfriend. The relationship itself had not been a good one, and I think I harbored some resentment about the whole thing. At the time, the company I worked at lacked culture, and my job was slowly tearing me down emotionally, and eventually, physically.

I was going nowhere in my life. It was a time when anything that happened wasn’t my fault, and other people were solely to blame when I was unhappy.

I thought I would’ve been at a more successful place than I was – a happier place. A place that 16-year-old me dreamed about and would’ve been proud of. Instead, I was so miserable and disappointed in myself. I also learned the hard way that misery does not always love company.

One of my good friends, Rob, and I got into a nasty fight around this time. It got so bad that he told me I was a negative person, and he didn’t like being around me. Those words stung because even though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew they were true. My unhappiness was the cause of why our budding friendship ultimately ended.

It was at that moment that I decided to be positive. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to put happy energy into my life and into the world. I wanted people to want to be around me. In order to do that, I had to learn what it really meant to be happy.

The dictionary blandly defines happy as “feeling or showing pleasure of contentment.” No offense to the dictionary, but that is pretty lame. I learned through several years of soul searching that happiness is a skill and a way of life. It’s a state of being, not just an emotion.

Happiness cannot be a situational thing. The reason I was not a happy person was that I spent too much time and energy tearing myself down that I was a stranger in my own skin. I had to get to know myself and learn to love the person I am.

I started to explore some new hobbies that I had always been interested in but never carried the right mindset to follow. Since I was always passionate about writing, I started a blog. Martial arts always fascinated me, so I joined a gym and trained in Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense. I started to travel more. I started working toward building new friendships, and more importantly, nurturing them. These things were part of the person I had always wanted to be, and I was taking the steps to be him.

It was also incredibly important for me to start choosing my attitude during difficult or challenging times. This one was a tough skill to learn and required a lot of work. It is still something I actively work on every single day. You have to choose happiness every time, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s easier and takes less energy to just lay down and let the unhappiness take over when you’re pushed or challenged. You should not and cannot allow that to happen.

Here’s the thing about happiness: People inherently want to be happy.

Sometimes, life can stack its issues and challenges so high on us that happiness can get lost in the mess. We have to keep our focus on happiness but also help others keep their focus on it as well.

We cannot force people to be happy, for happiness means something different to everyone. What each of us can do, however, is plant seeds of kindness in everyone we meet and interact with. We can keep the notion that people desire to be happy at the forefront of our minds. Creating a happy reality for ourselves and others is much more sustainable when the seeds of happiness grow into whatever the people in your life, or you, need it to be.

There are several ways everyone can choose to spread happiness:

  • Smile! It’s a free gift that’s invaluable to anyone who receives it.
  • Be kind. Be Mr. Rogers kind.
  • Look for the positive in everything. It’s there. I promise.
  • Give words of encouragement. Mean them.
  • Give hugs. Mean those too.
  • Do kind things without the expectation of a reward.
  • Make others feel included.
  • Actively listen. Life happens.
  • Own your shit. Learn to say you’re sorry.

Happiness is a destination that is unique to each one of us, but the path there is one we are all traveling together. We are empowered to help each other on our journey.

Throughout my time in the Rock Family of Companies, I have received positive feedback that I’m the person that, at some point in my life, I chose to be. I have been called brave, resilient and authentic. All of these words can be linked back to one thing: I am happy.

Rob and I eventually reconnected via social media after some time. In writing this article, I reflected on our experience together and sent him a message on Facebook to thank him for helping me grow and to share my appreciation with him. I promise that the old me, mentioned in the beginning, would have never done such a thing. He responded back and shared a quote from an article called, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” that helped him when he needed it. This is something I will keep with me now that I know it but am also sharing with you as a way to continue spreading happiness:

“Part of happiness is a courageous choice of loving life in the face of suffering, a chosen position or view of things.”

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