What Really Makes Me Happy

When I was in high school, I really wanted to make the Massachusetts Academic All-State Basketball Team. Badly. I wanted this early on, like as a freshman. One morning in March of my senior year, I opened the sports page of the Boston Globe and there’s my name! I was a top student-athlete. I felt so good. Until the next day, when I went 0 for 3 in a baseball game. That box score was in the local paper too. I’m awesome, then I’m shitty. This is the roller coaster of pursuing praise for achievements. It’s up and down and very fleeting.

About 10 years ago, I become obsessed with having the best kitchen stuff. I love to cook, so this made sense. I needed good tools for the job. Sure, that makes sense, right? But I was also sold on the images in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. If I had all of that amazing kitchen stuff, I’d surely be super happy. All-Clad pots and pans were one of my obsessions. So I got all of the ones I wanted and made a perfect set. I still have them and use them often. They were actually a great purchase as they will last longer than I will and they work great. But the happiness I felt when I took them out of the boxes faded very quickly. Stuff just doesn’t really make me happy. If you like great movies, this Edward Norton Fight Club scene and this Brad Pitt Fight Club scene say it well.

I once met a girlfriend of mine outside of my home. Upon greeting each other, she said, “Oh my god, you’re so #%@^ing hot!” She would say things like that. It sure did feel good. But I didn’t have a great sense of my inherent value at the time and so it was sort of like drinking a soda. I’d get a burst of energy, then I would crash. I’ve learned that no one else can love me. I’ve learned to feel love inside of me. From that place, I can now share in that love with other people and that feels really terrific. The affection of others is lovely, but I must balance it well with feeling great in my own right. Love is shared, not won or gained.

By the process of elimination, what makes me happy is being alive and being aware that I’m alive. From that place, I find that happiness spontaneously arises within me. I don’t have to seek it or create it. It’s just there. Once I stopped looking in the wrong places, I learned to see that it was right in front of my face. What really makes you happy?

Young woman sleeping on a green grass



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