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  • Christy Alfaro

Chasing Happiness


hap·pi·ness (n)

The state of being happy


hap·py (adj)

feeling or showing pleasure or contentment


pleas·ure (n)

a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment


en·joy·ment (n)

the state or process of taking pleasure in something.

Four different words, four different definitions, and yet they all use each other to describe themselves. So what is the true definition? What is happiness? I'm someone who often needs clear definitions and parameters for things I don't fully understand so I've asked myself "What is happiness?" quite a bit over the years. It's actually interesting as I sit down and dissect this because I feel like happiness is the one emotion that I'm unsure of how it feels. I knew to love unconditionally the moment I held my nephew Jovy in my arms, I learned romantic love when I met my first boyfriend and have been able to identify it a few times since. Sadness, anger, jealousy, excitement, depression - all feelings that I can clearly define and explain. But with happiness, even when I'm feeling it I'm unsure of whether or not it's truly the "happiness" that others talk about all the time.

Rewind six months, I was at such a low point emotionally. I was crying every single day, fighting feelings of self-harm, and feeling more lost than I ever had before. I had moments and pockets of happiness, going for runs, spending time with friends and family, and watching a good movie; but the overwhelming feeling that followed me around was sadness and hopeless despair. (okay so I'm being a little dramatic, but you can ask my friends and family - I was not a fun person to be around back then, and getting to a happy state of mind took so much energy.)

Let's jump back to today, I am arguably happier today than I ever have been before. I have a solid job, and a great place to live - hello beach view property - amazing people in my life who make me feel valued and respected. And yet, there are still moments when I have to wonder if what I'm feeling is true happiness. I mean how am I supposed to know really?

I think the answer that I've started to come to is that I can't. I think that happiness, as an idea, is almost a transitory state. Changing as often as the weather does. A couple of months ago, when I was in a relationship, I thought that was what true happiness was. Having a partner, and spending time with him, it didn't matter to me that we weren't perfect; as long as I had him I was happy. And yet, now that we're not together I feel a happiness that I don't remember feeling back then. When I look back on our relationship it's harder to remember the happy memories, it's difficult to associate that time with the idea of happiness. Because what I'm feeling now, without him is a joy I would've never experienced with him.

So I can't help but ask again, what is happiness? And how can I know that I won't feel the exact same way in three months?

I've started to do something new in my life, something that makes me a little uncomfortable. I've tried to stop planning. Now, I'm not perfect at it and somethings do need to be planned. But I've been trying this new approach to life where I move through the world actively looking for happiness. I make my decisions and my plans based off what would make me feel happiest at that moment.

I can't tell the future, all I can do is revert back to what I enjoy most - facts and definitions. I am content and satisfied with the life I'm living right now. A life that a year ago would equate to failure. Let me explain a little bit. A year ago, and for four-and-a-half years before that I was practically a homebody. I spent more time with my ex or alone than with my friends. I went out maybe once a month for an honest to god party night, having two drinks max on my nights out. I would DD everywhere, and trust me being the sober one around a bunch of drunk people is not all it's cracked up to be.

Now I spend almost all my time with people. Between movie nights with my roommates, soccer games with my friends, and girls nights out; I have a community around me that is so fulfilling and it's made me realize how much I enjoy people and connection. Genuine connections that are more than just having someone to sit next to. People that want to know about me and vice versa. This has been my happiness, exploring the city I live in with the people who make me feel connected and grounded.

Tonight, I'm spending my first night at home alone in almost four months because I am choosing to do so. I have spent more days out with friends in the last four months than I have in all of my 20s so far and I have been loving it. I genuinely feel like I'm chasing happiness now. Creating memories and truly discovering what brings me joy in life. Saying yes to things I never would have before to see if I like it. Spending less time focused on what I look like and more time on how I'm feeling and in doing so I've found what I think is happiness.

It's a little unbelievable to me the way this has all happened, how different my idea of happiness is now than it was not too long ago. But honestly, that's made me see life in a new and beautiful way. When I was with my ex I was so worried I wouldn't feel happy without him, that I would be lost without him, and I've found myself and happiness in an unimaginable way and I know that I can do it again if I needed. If my life were to completely change again, I know I'm capable of finding a whole different kind of happiness.


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