Happy is a tick. A twitch. A tingle. A trigger.
Happy is a laugh. A tear. A smile. A glare or a stair.
You can strive to be happy; you can let it drive you.
You can run towards happiness or away from happiness.
“Happy” comes in people, places and things.
Happy comes with memories of the past, stimuli from the present and premonitions about the future.
With happiness symbolizing so many things, with happiness feeling like so many emotions why is it that we all use the word happiness towards something we can possible obtain and keep present? It seems like an ever-changing state of mind, never a final destination. What do you think?
When contemplating what “happy” means to me I found myself thinking of a term we use in sobriety, in the 12 step recovery world and its called “life on life’s terms”.
So, is happy really a choice? I don’t know, what do you all think? Can you choose happiness or is happiness something that just either is or isn’t?
If you look at the quote “life on life’s terms” in my opinion happiness is something you chose.
Happiness is a word addict’s use a lot in recovery. When I was in rehab I heard most of my peers talk about just “wanting to be happy”. When I entered the world of 12 step recovery programs I once again heard my peers saying, “I just want to be happy”. But as one moves on through the recovery battle and actually gains “time”. Time refers to your day count. Day count refers to how many days you haven’t used. Once someone gains that “sober time” it is my belief that then according to the quote “life on life’s terms” we can either choose to be happy or choose not to be happy.
If an addict holds on to the pain, the hurt, the misery, the destruction that was they’re “using” they are not allowing themselves to be happy. Living “life on life’s terms” means to me a prayer that we say at the end of each 12 step meeting called the Serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. If you dissect that prayer you will find in it what “life on life’s terms” means to me. What does it mean to you?
I wanted to share this with all of you because I think it’s important in many areas of our lives. Relationships. School. Jobs. Family and friends. Our own individual happiness can be affected by the relationships we have with all of those things. On top of that, our happiness can be affected by how we were raised, how we look, the money we have, the area that we live. So much goes into happiness.
At times it’s as if true happiness can never be obtained. But, its un true.
The prayer and the quote teach us to- have serenity and it can teach others NOT in recovery to have serenity. You cannot have anything else in this life if you can’t come to peace. That is my definition of serenity. The ability to accept “the things I can not change”. No matter what you are facing in your life the road to happiness has to do with accepting the things you cannot change. The poorest person in the worst neighborhood can be the happiest soul alive because they accept what they cannot change. However the most powerful part is “the courage to change the things I can”. That poorest boy in the worst neighborhood might just have the courage to step outside into the unknown, break a pattern, change a cycle and maybe if he choses that path it will lead him to happiness. I urge you all to look at the things you CAN and the things you CAN NOT change, come to a place of “serenity” with them and see if that leads you to happiness.
Now, the core of that prayer: “The wisdom to know the difference” is why you can sum up the segment of the prayer to the quote “life on life terms” for it is actually the wisdoms, the smarts, the skill set a individual has to actually analyze what they can and what they can not change that will be the pivotal point that will ultimately lead to their version of happiness for their individual life. Right now my happiness is simple: not using drugs.
I bring this up at all because as graduate students we are really thinking about the direction we want our lives to go, where we want to go from here and I hope you all see through the quote and through the prayer example that any of you can have happiness if only you allow yourself to look inside and discover what that happiness is for you and for you alone.