I recently finished Autumn Christian’s Girl Like a Bomb, and while there are many powerful quotes in the book, one near the end really grabbed me: “Do you ever think about how life is a constant negotiation of priorities and circumstance? Like, no matter what you do, you’re going to have to fight for happiness until you die?”
That one hit me hard because I’ve struggled to maintain happiness these past few weeks. Of course, I’m excited to have launched a website and to share my passion with others, but the moment I started Redrum Reviews, life got harder. New friends on social media, new demands and expectations, more criticism, and all from people I’ve never met. A month in and already I’ve contemplated quitting a few times.
A week after finishing Girl Like a Bomb, I interviewed Daniel I. Russell, and he told me his favorite quote was: "Nothing worth having comes easy." That’s when it dawned on me, that perhaps, the universe is giving me signs again. Prodding me to remember something that I instinctively know and yet always forget. The secret to happiness is simple… and yet at the same time it’s difficult as hell.
Although happiness may feel out of reach for many, I still assume that everyone wants to be happy. We seek out new items to own and new activities to experience in order to bring happiness back into our lives. There are even those of us who pay good money just to listen to the advice of gurus, all in the hopes it will assist us on our own journey to happiness. I’m not sure this piece is advice—more like observations from a relatively short life that has experienced plenty of ups and downs—however, the simple act of writing what’s in my head often helps to keep it from exploding. Plus, I can revisit these observations on my bad days and maybe that’ll help me through.
Before putting my fingers to the keyboard, I argued with myself on whether words like ‘fight’ and ‘battle’ were the correct terms to describe the acquisition of happiness. Eventually, I settled on ‘decision'. Please don't think the word choice is implying that the act is easy or simple. The decision to be happy is probably the most difficult decision you’ll ever make. And the real kicker is, it’s not a decision you can make just once or twice. It’s not even limited to a hundred times. Nope. You will literally need to make that decision every day of your life. And it’s a bit trickier than just saying: ‘I want to be happy.”
Shit, Autumn was right...it's not just a fight... It's a battle until you die.
Young adults are fond of saying that after they graduate, they’ll finally start the life they want—just get through the stress of college and then happiness is just around the corner. When that doesn’t work, we say it’s finding the right job. Maybe it’s finishing a major goal, creating better family circumstances, or celebrating increased health that will give you the elusive happiness and peace of mind you so desire.
But with each passing year, it seems like life is comprised of very few happy moments that are sandwiched between a whole bunch of misery. The joy of an accomplishment or accolade may last three days at most. But after that… It’s back to the shit show for most of us,.
I think the universe wants me to remember that happiness is not a destination. It does not come from the acquisition of material goods or even accomplishments. Those things help, please don’t get me wrong. It’s much easier for me to choose happiness when my bills are paid and I have food in the fridge. But at its core, happiness is a state of mind. It’s an emotion, and all emotions are fleeting. We either choose to embrace an emotion, absorbing all the sensations its neurotransmitters have to offer or we reject those sensations. That’s what we boil down to, right? A bundle of neurons and the electrical messages that pass through us due to stimuli, internal or external.
The battle, the fight, it's with ourselves. Pain can feel good. We can become addicted to justifications as to why we feel shitty. And for the most part, we’re always justified. Yes, bad things happened to you in the past--to me--maybe even every day we're still being unfairly treated. Maybe it’s even traumatized us to a point where we prefer sadness. I hate to admit it, but I know I’ve chosen sadness even when I had tons of reasons to be happy.
Yet I also know that I’ve found happiness despite being in moments of extreme pain and anguish. This leads me to believe that happy and sad are only states of mind. We choose where our consciousness will reside. Although extremely difficult, we can become greater than our environments. We can reject the chemical messengers that try their damnedest to break our spirits, to fill us with fear, loathing, and hatred. We can choose happiness, even when we must toil at jobs we don’t like. We can be kind and smile, even when every human being we’ve encountered today was foul-mouthed and rude.
You don’t have to make these choices or feel these ways. In fact, no one will blame you for not choosing happiness. You have every right not to. The choice is ours. And since happiness is a state of being in your mind, you and I have all the power in the decision. Personally, I don’t want the power over my mind given to anyone or anything besides me.
Am I happy every day…? Whether I am or not, I will answer the questions with a resounding Yes! I am happy. For the same reason I don’t want to believe that humans are evil, for the same reason that I don’t want to admit that I’m scared sometimes.
Is happiness a fight till the day you die? Yes. But it’s more like a long war. And each day is a new battle. But don’t hate the fight. Embrace it. Don’t dwell on the few days you lose a battle. Just make damn sure you win enough battles to be victor of the war.
Until next time. Stay Weird. Stay kind. And I'll see you on the battlefield... hope you choose happiness.