What does happiness have to do with getting what you want?

When setting my life goals, I thought “I want to be happy”. But that’s not true. The list of what I want is long, complicated, twisted, expensive & unhealthy. I’ve wanted desperately, eagerly & in many other ways we want. I learnt that the price of what I wanted was too high because there always is a price. Also that it did not make me happy.

How about it if came easier, was cheaper? Still no. Achievement (which is getting what you want) is not happiness. It felt gratifying. Or vindicating when people said I didn’t deserve it. Pleased even. But happy? That was something else, I learnt.

What about not getting what you want? That’s happened too, notably in my love life. It’s been disappointment after damning disappointment. My ego gets hurt, my feelings too & a few times, my body as well. The moments of pleasure were far & few. They’re never worth the pain. But my love life is not me, any more than my career is.

I didn’t get into the college I wanted. A man I also wanted, did & he said I must not have wanted it very much if I sounded okay about it. I didn’t have the words to articulate that ‘being okay’ could co-exist with disappointment. After my engagement ended, someone said I must not have loved very much if I was able to laugh & feel pleasure months later. It always hurts to hear this. Some people have never understand happiness the way I do. But then, I’ve realised these are not people who happy or can fathom or tolerate it in others.

So what’s happiness? It was in the moment when I was broken down but able to remember that abuse was something that happened to me; it wasn’t me. It’s in every second I spend in water without thought, just living a physics that makes swimming possible. It’s being able to read the histories of people I’ve never met, in broken textile mills. It’s a flower blossoming for a day & green leaves on the next. But these are just signposts pointing to a truth.

Happiness isn’t something you want; it’s something you always are. Especially when you can remember it.


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