Truth - Sometimes life seems to be good to be true. Isn't it odd how we spend so much time waiting for calamity to strike. We are constantly on the lookout for strife, hardship, and challenge. Sometimes, on rare occasions it seems (or more often if we wide our perspectives), life really can be as good as feels. Learning to capitalize on those dissipating moments is a skill many of us have little to no experience in doing successful. We have to learn how to be happy. Seems implicit but reality shows us otherwise. This is content.

"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage." Thucydides

I have a confession to make. I don't know how to be happy. I don't think I allow myself to be happy often enough to recognize it when I'm feeling it. I have grown accustomed to just settling for being mostly appeased but less than stellar. But as of late, I would say my post-collegiate years, I have been surrounded by happiness. I've found it habitable and embraced an environment to the point that it has become indistinguishable from the generally melancholy plane of existence I usually found myself on. My moments of anguish are the fleeting dampeners instead of the modus operandi. What a place to be in life. What an immense privilege. What lightness I feel. That heaviness I used to carry around with me, namely the weight of the oppressive world and my internalized experiences of it, has been lessened. It seems like a distant memory, but what scares me about it is how immediately I can recall those feelings, access them readily, and put them on display - particularly for the education of others. I think I have processed all that I have been through to the point that I get to command my story to the point where it doesn't have free reign.

The absence of constant confrontation, perpetual trauma, and ambiguous self-doubt has left me in this odd state of joy. I just sit sometimes looking around at where I am, and my heart is filled with this inexplicable surge of rampant positivity. I feel at peace. I feel settled - in who I am, in my skin, in my life path. I feel content. I'm just here, doing my own thing, and thriving. There are this random flashes of thoughts of disbelief or questioning. How did I end up here? Why do I get all of this? What makes me deserving of this life? Could/should I be somewhere else? I am quick to problematize those ideas and where they come from. The voices of past experiences, messages taken in from others/society, and fruitless comparisons to others get rationalized away. I get to be grateful for the opportunities that I have been afforded, and what I have been able to do with them because of the help others gave to me. I am a mixture of agency, privilege, and access to resources - as we all are; each combinations leads us down different life paths. None of the paths are the same. And because of the way we assign value arbitrarily to certain life realities people end up in drastically different places. It is our duty to have an awareness of ourselves and others, while actively ensuring we all have the opportunities to live our best/happiest lives.

It's mind-blowing to me how different our lives can be, even when people start in relatively the "same" place. I think of my classmates from high school, college, and even graduate school. We have spread out all over the world, stayed local, or embraced nomadic lifestyles. We have invented things, pursued further education, and created change in the communities we found ourselves in. We have experienced loss, sorrow, and anger. We have joined partners, started families, and found companionship in pets. We have all taken unique paths and all of them are valid. That realization that comparing our lives to that of others as futile is life-changing, especially when we see that we only are getting glimpses of others' highest of highs and lowest of lows. Being able to be happy for others is a learned process. It needs to be a selfless (as in removing ourselves from the thought entirely) appreciation of who someone else is and where there are in their life. Our judgement is inherent but what doesn't have to be is expressing it. Our opinions on the lives of others are pointless. Pity comes from a condescending place of positionality. Empathy comes from another of human connection. Jealously comes from deep insecure. Admiration is gratitude combined with appreciation. And the distinctions can go on and on. Happiness looks different for everyone and that is okay - it should. Despite the socialized notions of what we're supposed to desire (wealth, heteronormative suburban nuclear families, etc.) there is not one version of contentment. The sooner we accept that the more likely we are to be able to give thanks for how we're making life work.

Do you ever smile just because? Do you ever feel in awe of your world? Do you take pleasure in the regularities of life (the simple companies of alabaster white clouds migrating where the wind blows, the tantalizing smell of tranquil comfort commercialized in fabric softener, or the feel of glistening warm sun drenching your skin in decadent vivaciousness)? Sometimes it is okay to be happy, for you, for us, for me. It is okay to forget for a while about the horrors of the world, the cruelty of its inhabitants, and the injustices of those in power. It is okay to laugh uncontrollably, to kiss unabashedly, and to love unconditionally as if nothing, and no one else matter. It is okay to feel confident in yourself, to meditate on your actuality, and to marvel in your wonder. It is also good, potent, and necessary to stay grounded, be engaged, and remain connected. When we ignore the truth of others and the intersections of time, space, and place that we find ourselves in, our happiness does not get to be pure. Happiness should not come at the cost of others but rather the communality of us all together. Happiness is meant to be shared, to be passed along, and to be enjoyed with others. That is what how to be content - to bestow that gift to another. X


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