Since seeing the Hugh Mackay quote appear in my newsfeed recently, I’ve been giving this a great deal of thought, do I want to be happy, or do I want to be whole?
Hmm, big question.
Happiness to me is being healthy, having healthy kids, a loving relationship, personal safety, freedom and no worries about financial stability. Happiness to another may be travelling the world with nothing but one pair of knickers and a spare set of thongs. Who am I to judge? We are all different and our past experiences have moulded our thinking accordingly.
There will be people that read this and ask why on earth would I list personal safety, in a country like Australia? These would also possibly be the people lucky enough to live in a house without domestic violence, without having ever experienced the walking on eggshells, the listening for any verbal trigger, being on constant alert for non-verbal signs, total awareness of the nearest exit.
Yes, for me personal safety is a large component of my “what makes me happy” list.
Yet, unless i had lived through that terror, i wouldn’t understand how wonderful it is to be safe, how incredibly empowering it is to be able to make a purchase without having permission, or how great it is to be in charge of my own spare time.
Without sadness, there can be no happiness, because there is no measure. Without danger, there is no safety, without incarceration, there is no freedom.
Living through the hard times, brings power and strength to our soul, builds resilience and lifts the spirit to know that this alone will not break us. This is part of becoming whole, experiencing a range of emotion from sadness, fear to compassion and onwards to states of bliss.
Are we less when we are sad? Are the days spent under a blanket hiding from the world, less important than the days we dance and sing with abandon?
I don’t believe so.
My thoughts around the issue are this – we are given days on earth to create our lives, and to experience all we can with the days we have. By allowing ourselves to feel pain, hurt, sadness, grief, we allow ourselves to become whole. To feel real. To experience life’s emotional spectrum, without regret or fear, just as you would share your triumphs, your joys and your moments of great fulfillment.
There have been days when I have blogged about hiding in a blankie fort, and those posts so often become widely read, many people sharing and commenting as they understand that same bleak feeling. I’ve also found that by allowing myself the opportunity to pull the covers over my head and block out the world for the day, gives me time to process that emotion. I don’t ‘soldier on’, I allow it to wash over, feeling into the physical ache that sadness often brings along for the ride.
I also make a point of not packing up to live in this state – I don’t become my sadness, i experience it – and let it move on, move away before being replaced with another. Every day brings a new challenges to our emotional equilibrium. Just as a positive person can not always expect to be happy, a negative person can expect moments of happiness thrown in with their pre-conditioned outlook on life.
Life is not all happiness – hard to believe if you use social media as a yardstick – but I too, am guilty of posting upbeat things about my life, more so because I believe there is enough sadness in the world already. But life is also not all sadness, even people with clinical depression can have a great day, it’s the allowing of emotion without being afraid that’s important. Are we frightened to feel sadness, in case we fall into a pit of “depression”? Are we so caught up in the keeping up with the neighbours, that we are ashamed to admit we are anxious, instead living a veiled life of fabulous on the outside?
Who knows? All I know is that I want to be real. I want to eat real food, sit in the real sunlight, express real and sometimes raw emotion and live my life honestly. I want to love the people around me and send love to the ones who I know aren’t in my corner.
I want to feel my life. I want to sense the excitement of travelling to new places, and smell the scent of new beginnings, I want to hear the words in a tongue I do not understand, and I want to see life through wide eyes of compassion. And I want to laugh, get lost, and find myself in the process.
I guess what i would hope for is a life lived well, lived by helping people, lived by experiencing new things, having deep connection to family and friends, by being morally courageous, sharing the gift we have been given, standing up for your beliefs and by caring for your fellow man.
To be that, is what would make me feel whole, and that also is what would make me happy. To know I have lived a life well, and left a legacy of love behind me. To have lived my life simply BEING, sharing, caring, loving.
So, Wholeness or happiness? I am still deciding, as each day brings more opportunity to ponder – but until I do, I’ll probably keep striving for both. 🙂