After years of reading countless self-help books and articles about how to be happy, I realized happiness is the wrong goal for me.
The moment I realized this, something ironic happened... I felt happier! I stopped feeling inadequate because I don't feel a constant buzz of inner happiness all the time. I stopped feeling like I was chasing something others had that I needed to be normal. I felt peaceful.
Though I believe in positive thinking, dreaming big and setting goals for myself, attaining everything I desire (which is what a lot of self-help books claim to teach you to do) wouldn't make me truly happy anyway. The nice house, designer clothes, car, and cool gadgets will never bring me lasting joy. 150 likes on Facebook about my hair is a quick high, not a deep joy. Grace that sustains me comes from helping others, contributing to causes I believe in and quality time with friends, family and my community.
The world is full of injustice, violence, and inequality. I don't want to just make vision boards of things I desire, read The Secret and tune out all negativity. I want to know and feel what's really going on. I want to be informed. I want to take action. I'm here to help.
I do try to focus more on the good in the world and I have a positive attitude. Don't worry, I'm not Debbie Downer! But I'm not Elated Ellen all the time, either. I'm just me.
I'm a music teacher, and I feel wonderful moments of joy when I teach a song and a child beams as they sing it passionately. I feel so many moments of love around family and friends. I feel proud when I write something I think is good and might help someone.
Emerson said, "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." Emerson is way cooler than self-help books about getting ahead and getting stuff.
I'm a person who feels waves of joy, sadness, messiness, chaos, order, love, frustration, exhilaration etc., not a "happy person." I'm really happy that I've accepted that.