You Will Never Find Happiness

Hello Friends and Family,

‘Tis the season to be told all of the secrets of life. Every blog, magazine and momma will tell you the:

10 Ways to Bring Joy in Your Life

9 Ways to be a Great Team Member

8 Reasons to be Grateful for the Season

7 Steps to Being Victorious in 2017

6 Tips to a Better You

5 Communication Techniques to get People to Like You

Success in 4 Easy Steps

3 Tenants of Prosperity

The Only 2 Things You Will Ever Need in Life

How to Survive Thanksgiving if Your Family Voted for tRump (yes, this is a real title)

 

You could easily believe that all of your hang-ups and disappointments are because you only did 6/7 required steps of being victorious. Or, you only have 3 of the necessary tools to communicate effectively. It insinuates that life is a perfect formula. Do the required steps and you will get the anticipated results. Put a dollar in the vending machine, punch a few keys and get a pack of skittles. Boom! Happiness delivered on demand. It is just that simple. If life sucks, it’s your fault for not following the formula.

What is happy? Happy Birthday. Happy New Year. Happy is a weird word and the title of a painfully annoying song by Pharell.

Being happy is a temporary state of good cheer and having your basic needs taken care of. ‘Happiness’ is more like the semi-permanent state of wellbeing and your more complex needs are met. Happiness is achievable… sort of.

After much thought and reflection, I will share the secret to finding happiness. I have traveled the world and have spoken to ancient spirits. I have dreamed prolific dreams and I have read every book. I have done it all and I will share my countdown on, “How to Find an Abundance of Everlasting Happiness in 6 Very Easy Simple Steps.” It’s free for you, but I’m going to charge the low, low price of 7 easy payments of $49.99 for the 1st 100 callers.

 

1: You will find happiness after you shoot the messenger. Who told you what happiness is and how did you conclude you are unhappy? Did it come from people bragging about their life (facebook or instagram)? Did it come from the thousands of images we see on T.V. that tell us what success, happiness and fun look like? Go ahead, shoot the messenger. Challenge any and every idea of what happiness is and where those ideas came from.

 

2: You will find happiness once you ditch the road map. There is no road map that will help you find happiness. Accept the fact that life is one big question mark or highs and lows, mountains and valleys, triumphs and failure. You will go forward, you will go backwards, you will go left when you think you should go right and right when you think you should go left. Sometimes you will stop and question yourself. Sometimes it looks like you are in the wrong place. Sometimes you will think you have arrived. And then, out of nowhere, you will realize that you haven’t arrived and you are lost. You will question the journey. You will question the process. You will question yourself, your beliefs, and your purpose.

If all of that is going on in a cyclic pattern, it is a sign that you are on the right path towards happiness. If there are more lows points than highlights in life, or you lows are really low, find someone to help you guide you back on the right path. Never doubt the power of the black hole. It will suck you in and make you think the only way to get out is to isolate yourself even more. People may not understand everything that you are going through, but we can all empathize with that experience. No one can tell you how to not be depressed, but there are people to hold your hand and help you heal.

 

3: You will never find happiness if you can’t recognize happiness. In order to find happiness you must recognize what happiness looks like. Happiness is the things you hope for within experiences that re-affirm your spirit.

Happiness goes unrecognized because we often place unrealistic ideas and expectations on people, places, things and experiences. I noticed that people (yes, that includes you) often are disappointed because people don’t meet your expectations. Or, we do things but the emotion that we thought we would have isn’t quite there. We buy things to make us happy, but they lose its appeal as soon as the newness wears away. It’s like having $900,000 in your bank account and being unable to enjoy it because 1) you are focused on the fact that you are not a millionaire, and 2) you focus on the bills (for all the things you enjoy on a daily basis), mortgage and rent (that allows you to sleep comfortably at night), and student loans that will drain your bank account.

 

4: You will never find happiness because happiness is not lost; therefore, it isn’t something that can be found. The Wizard of Oz teaches us more than ‘there is no place like home’. The people Dorothy loved the most in Kansas were really similar (hint hint wink wink) to the friends she found in Oz. Also, Dorothy had the ability to go back to Kansas at anytime. She didn’t have to get apples thrown at her, get her dog stolen or kill a witch just to get back to Kansas. Glenda, the so-called ‘good’ witch could have saved her the journey, drama and the trauma.

Happiness, just like home, is not lost. It is not something you have to search for. It is not something you win or accomplish.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the journey is necessary. There is something cathartic about being in motion. Get up, try and figure it out, do what you can, stop and reflect, and repeat tomorrow.

 

5: You will never find happiness because it doesn’t exist.   I have come to the realization that I am deficient. I am limited to a language that doesn’t have the correct words to describe my emotions. Rarely do I ever feel one emotion purely. Except for right now. I am tired. This is probably the longest letter of the year. Besides that, I’m rarely just angry, happy, sad, or excited. I usually feel a mix of things at varying levels with subtle undertones of extra emotions that are driven by the context of the rest of my life.

Happiness doesn’t exist. It is a generic place holder for deeper and complex emotions that don’t have names.

 

6: If you are still looking for happiness you will always miss the mark because…

  •         There are other perfectly good (harder to feel) emotions that you may really be hoping to experience, such as: joy, wonder, excitement, hope, togetherness, being understood, and fulfillment.
  •         Anything negative is not the antithesis of happiness. We know this because we have the ability to cry tears of happiness. We often appreciate the good when we go through the bad. The problem is that we don’t have a word that captures the fullness in the range, fluidity and continuity of our feelings.
  •         You really are looking for something else, or you are running from something else. You are using the pursuit of ‘happiness’ as a distraction from the real issue.
  •         Happiness may look like something anti-stereotypical. It may look like being more discipline, creating traditions, turning off electronics.
  •         You are going through the motions and not enough of the things that you do on a daily basis reflect the things you value.
  •         Something inside of you has died, become stagnant or has been left unresolved for far too long.

 

I don’t pretend that I am the repository of all wisdom. I have no answers for anything. I have thoughts and time to write. I would love to hear from you. Maybe you have found happiness and I need help.

 

As most of you know, each year I pick a theme to capture (what I hope to be) the essence for the upcoming year. Each month I write a letter to help me pause, reflect, and re-center my well being. This year’s theme was “Be like water: Fluid, reflective and always tending towards stillness.” I’m not sure if I figured it out, or have some deeper understanding. I’m almost as aimless about the theme as I was a year ago. But that is o.k. It sits well with me.

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My Grandparents Hands

Dear Racism, I am not my grandparents. Sincerely, These Hands.

“Sincerely, These Hands.” Do you know what that means? I don’t. I was scrolling on my facebook newsfeed and I saw this ad for a t-shirt with this message inscribed on it. A week or so later I saw an article criticizing the shirt that thousands of facebook users scrolled passed. Apparently, the author thought the designer of the t-shirt was insulting previous generations for not fighting hard enough against racism, oppression and state sanctioned violence. “These are not my grandparents hands” meant that this generations of activist aren’t as passive and forgiving as their elders.

I spent this Remembrance of Indigenous Sacrifice day (also known as ‘Thanksgiving’) among my extended family. Before I was able to indulge in a combination of macaroni and cheese/ yams/ stuffing magnificence I had to stop, pause and participate in the yearly ritual. I’m not sure if your family is like my family, but every year before the Thanksgiving dinner we have to go around the table and say what we are thankful for. We actually don’t go around the table. We have to go around the entire room so that all 500 of us can say something prolific and meaningful. However, most people just repeated the same statement, “I’m thankful for my friends and family”. Keep it classy. Keep it quick.

This year I am thankful that my hands are my grandparents hands.

I am the product of my grandparents hopes and dreams. I am the manifestation of the triumph over their fears and their struggle. I am the answer to every tear cried and opportunity that was denied to them. I am my ancestors wildest dreams. I expand into places they couldn’t. I am their legacy after enduring Jim Crow, the Great Depression, and other horrific life events that I can’t even imagine.

This Remembrance of Indigenous Sacrifice I am beholden to and thankful for the sacrifices of my great grandparents and my grandparents: Lucious Sr. and Plurel, Ora Lee and Ocie, Pearl and Ocie, and Betty Jean and Roy. I just realized I don’t know my grandmother’s parents name. I’m pretty sure she (or one of my aunts) is going to read this and call me sooner rather than later.

And since this is my list of being thankful for all of the elderly people in my life I’m also going to include Aunt Gladys, Aunt Mildred and Uncle Edgar (the man who makes us go around the room and say what we are thankful for).

I am also thankful for James and Loretta McBride, and Joan and Jerry Moss. I keep trying to type the perfect sentence to express how I feel about them. I just can’t. I don’t have the language or the words to express my sentiment towards them. Every term of joy and endearment that I can think of just seems too shallow to capture the love and admiration I have for these people.

Every month I write a letter about something that I’m thankful for. If you receive this letter it means that you are someone that I appreciate. I would love to hear from you.