What is Happiness Anyway?

My mother once told me, “Kari, you’re never happy. You are always searching for something better or waiting for the greener grass.” In that moment, I felt like I’d been turned upside-down and shaken until my deepest, darkest shortcoming fell out. And that shortcoming was staring me dead in the face.

It was my very search for happiness that prevented me from ever being happy. But let us first examine this word. The Webster definition of happiness is: feeling pleasure or enjoyment because of your life, situation, ect. Dictionary.com says: delighted pleased or glad as over a particular thing.

 

When we take the common denominator of these definitions, they both define happiness as an effect of a situation, life or even something. And when we look at it in these terms, by golly I was rarely happy; my situations were plagued by “things” that made life less than enjoyable causing me to search for something better with a never-ending, grass-is-greener mentality.

If happiness can be defined outside of these terms as a simple emotion or state, then I was happy outside of my unsatisfactory circumstances. It was my very circumstances that often led me to seek a deeper purpose or underlying meaning, which I can boldly say has allowed me to rise above the status quo.

I discovered that my happiness is directly linked to the level in which my true heart and soul’s expression was alive and thriving. And any circumstance that depleted or blocked this expression made me unhappy. My spirit would take a sabbatical and I wasn’t sure when it planned to return.

I distinctly remember the collective moments when I was least happy; they all shared an underlying cause in that my spirit was nowhere to be found. People came a knocking but there wasn’t anything behind my facade.

As a creative and expressive being, I can only withstand a sabbatical from my soul’s presence for so long before my complacency leads to depression. And in the times I was depressed, my soul had always conveniently taken leave without notice. Who could blame the light for leaving; I clearly wasn’t relying on my spirit for much.

In giving up the things I love to purse practicality and safety, I gave up my soul’s chance to truly shine in all her splendid light and infinite power.

Too many unfulfilling jobs and relationships under tow, I started to pay attention to these recurring soul sabbaticals. The funny thing is, my spirit was never far enough away that she couldn’t whisper her longing and love-sickness to my heart. The heart and soul, those two are basically mono y mono.

I also began to realize these whispers were probably there all along; I always shoved them out of existence with a good dose of fear and need for fear’s best friends: safety and comfort.

I could create spurts of happiness through creative expression, dancing, singing and loving others, but these were transitory fixes to the larger problem. I was slowly dying inside by trading my soul in for artificial happiness (or what I like to call comfort).

On the outside I seemed to have it all: a desirable job at a prestigious ad agency, a loving fiancé, family and friends and a sweet puppy. No one (and I mean no one) knew that I was slowly fizzling into a lifeless version of myself until they saw the culmination of my unhappiness take effect: they came knocking for the Kari they once knew, but I wasn’t home.

Without my spirit, I was a shell of a normally happy and vivacious woman. Take away the forms of expression and the freedom to do what my soul longs to do, and it’s apparent why I lost any happiness and zest for life. I had searched for it all on the outside in those “situations and things,” when in truth happiness cannot come from outside ourself; it must be cultivated and sustained within us by the courageous choice to live a spirited life.

Happiness starts with you.

-Karilyn Owens

Without a strong connection to our spiritual and creative nature or the ability to connect intimately to others, we cease to exist because we are a soul first. And that soul needs to be heard, seen, felt and expressed in its entirety to feel alive—to feel happy.

I finally recognized that my spirit was on an indefinite sabbatical; I eventually left my soul-shattering job, spoke up to my fiancé about my true feelings of unhappiness in my relationship and left it all behind. I was short a shiny job and fiancé, but I had my dog, my family and friends, and most importantly, my soul’s dignity.

So my soul and I, tired, hopeless, lost and confused decided to build a partnership where two can play this game called life. And I started my journey to authentic, soul-inspired living. And I found when I did that, even without all those things like marriage or a fancy job, I was happy. I was home.

And slowly but surely I climbed the mountain with strength, resolve and resilience to find a way of living that is defined by happiness, not in certain terms but by the way I felt in my body. You could come knocking and I was always home. It didn’t matter what circumstance came about or how difficult they were (oh we’re they difficult), but in the times in my life that I did triumph, my soul was always right by my side. We put our collective power together and pushed past the barriers, with more grace and faith than ever before.

I can tell you all the “things” that our triumph led to, but I won’t. They don’t matter so much as how I feel does. And I feel as happy as I’ve ever felt because my soul is home where she belongs, expressing every beautiful piece of her spirit. The truth is (well my truth anyway): expressing my soul with every sparkle and twinkle of light is happiness.

Expressing my God-given light is why I am here; my purpose is tantamount to my soul’s ability to fully express the Divine being I am. And when my soul isn’t home, well, neither am I. And what I choose to do with those expressions doesn’t matter as long as I’m serving others with my light.

So Webster, I have news for you: It isn’t a situation that creates a sense of true happiness or even one’s life for that matter. It is the level in which we are are in touch with the essence of who we are.

This nature is the root of inner happiness, peace, joy and fulfillment—everything else is gravy.

I imagine if I were to pose the same question to my mom or any other close family member or friend, they might tell you something unlike my mom’s previous perspective and say, “Kari? She’s one of the happiest people I know.”

And to that response, my soul would say, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

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