Happiness wants to catch you

Ever since happiness heard your name, it’s been running down the street trying to find you.
— Hafiz, Perisian Poet

I read this quote, then glanced at the book on the corner of my desk. 

"10% Happier", by Dan Harris. 

I looked at my bookshelf.

“The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Ruben.

“The Art of Happiness,” by the Dalai Lama - just to name a few. 

I looked from the books back to the quote on my computer monitor.

Has happiness been chasing me? 

Hardly. 

Sadness often grips me around my ankles, tugging me towards darkness, baiting me into the shadows and shackling me under the cobwebs and stairs. 

It has sometimes felt like my full-time job to pull out of those shackles and go looking for happiness.

The first time anyone ever asked me whether or not I was happy, I was working as a newspaper reporter for a weekly paper in Western Pennsylvania, making 15K a year and considering graduate school options. 

No, I told her. I wasn’t really happy.

At the time, I was completely floundering in my journey, certain that happiness, if it were to be found for me, was on the other side of a Master’s Degree in creative writing. I didn’t know much, but I was sure of that.    

“Have you ever been happy?” she asked.

I chewed on the question for a bit. I wasn’t sure. 

There were moments I’d enjoyed - playing sports, spending time with family and friends. I’d certainly had fun and laughter at times in my life. 

But happy? Me? 

I’ve always thought of happiness as a sacred place of arrival - the Mount Everest of joy - where we arrive one day panting, breathless, savoring the view and reflecting on our effort to get there.  

Happiness always seems to be a place to get to, but it rarely seems to be a place we are. 

We’re sure that it’s hidden in the new job, the new relationship, or at our goal weight of 145 pounds. Happiness and 145 pounds go hand in hand, right?

But what if it’s not like that?

What if we really don’t need to look for it? Chase it? Try to win it?

What if we really just need to be open to it?  

What if happiness is in the warm sun, shining on my head as I write this. In Rooney’s contented breathing as he lays on my legs and I drink my coffee. Watching my niece and nephew do push-ups for me while we FaceTime. 

In Sunday morning conversations and coffee with my parents. 

And a gym full of people gathered to watch the original Wonder Woman with me. 

Happiness is in so many places and people and moments. 

Happiness has been chasing us all along. 

We’re not always easy to catch. Because we’re too busy running ahead when really, we just need to stop long enough to let it catch us. 

Today, right now, in this moment - stop. 

Practice that sacred pause. 

And let happiness catch you.