Do you ever watch Super Soul Sunday? It’s one of Oprah’s and can be found on the OWN Network. On Sunday’s obviously. Here, in Toronto, where I live, it airs at 11 a.m. I have no idea what time it’s on anywhere else.
All I can say is, one of my favourite things to do on Sunday mornings used to be reading The New York Times and meeting friends for brunch. Since I ‘discovered’ this show about a year ago (although it’s been on for about 3 years, I believe), everything waits until after it’s over at noon.
Each week Oprah sits down with another “top thinker, author, visionary or spiritual leader and they talk
about personal fulfillment, spirituality, conscious living and, for the last two weeks, with her guest Shawn Achor (educator, author, speaker and positive psychology advocate) happiness.”
Of course since Pharrell Williams’ upbeat, catchy, grin-inducing, toe-tapper of a song, Happy, has completely dominated the airwaves, everyone seems to have ‘happiness’ on the brain. And there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
But it was really Oprah’s recent two-part series that got me thinking.
What is ‘happiness’? No, no, no, not that euphoric high that has you grinning like a fool and doing cartwheels — until something, or someone, comes along and rains on your parade and the next thing you know you’re down in the dumps. Just because you smile a lot or laugh often doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘happy’.
I’m talking about real happiness. A state of being.
Thought I’d start at the very beginning — at the dictionary definition of the word: According to the Oxford, “happiness” is the state of being happy.
Not much help there. Gotta say I was hoping for something a little more insightful, a little more inspiring, a little more meaningful, a little more zen, a little more significant, a little more ‘large’ if you get my drift. The Merriam Webster, in case that was going to be your next suggestion, was another write off.
So I guess I have to figure it out for myself; and now you’ll be stuck with what I think. Unless you’d like to chime in, which would be terrific. I’d love to hear what you think. What I do know for sure is, my idea of happiness today is somewhat different than what I thought it meant when I was 17. Back then happiness was having a date for the prom.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
Here’s a question for you, to get things started: Do you think it’s possible to be ‘happy’ if you’re a glass-half-empty kinda person? I’m being serious here. I don’t think you can. If you’re negative how can you recognize happiness? For that matter, how can you even be open to the whole idea of being happy if you see the bleak side of everything?
This is not a criticism, by the way. I think trying to find the good in life is one of the keys to happiness. Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but wouldn’t you agree it’s well worth the effort?
Me? I am positive by nature. Sure, I have my moments like everyone else, but generally I believe every mistake has a valuable lesson built in, every disappointment comes with another opportunity, every ‘hurt’ makes you stronger. And, as much as it’s nice to occasionally wallow in misery, I try really hard, and most of the time I succeed, to dig deep and find the light side of dark situations and experiences.
Which, in itself, is a form of happiness — at least to me. In some ways, that’s acceptance, isn’t it? An acceptance that life won’t be perfect every minute of every day, but something good can come out of it in the end. It may be a different ending than the one I originally envisioned, and wanted (or thought I wanted), but there can still be a ‘happy’ outcome. You never know, the momentary set back could be a blessing in disguise.
Then maybe, acceptance = happiness. What think you?
Let’s take it a step further: If you’re ready to ‘accept’, could it be you’re ‘satisfied’. And couldn’t that mean you’re ‘fulfilled’. Which surely means you’re ‘content’. Right or wrong? Sounds like you have a lot to be grateful for, doesn’t it?
Then maybe, acceptance = satisfaction = fulfillment = contentment = gratitude = happiness. Yes? No? You tell me.
Real, true happiness.
Authentic. Resides deep inside you.
Being at peace with yourself, your decisions, your foibles, your failures, your successes, your choices, your path, your contributions, your impact. The good and the bad. The right and the wrong. The highs and the lows. And no, I don’t think it means you’re done. Nothing more to do, to see, to dream about, to want. It just means you’re good with where you’re at. In the present.
Or is it something else?
What do you think?