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Monday, April 8, 2013

6. Happiness is Exhausting, But Well Worth the Effort.

I have kind of a different view on Happiness than a lot of people, I think.  But it works for me, and I'll be writing about it here, so that maybe some of you can understand where I'm coming from.
To me, there is a difference between being happy, and Happiness.  you can be happy because you're at peace, or content, or excited, or satisfied, or any number of things.  But to me, Happiness is something entirely different.  To me, Happiness is something that we can't achieve in mortality.  Not for very long, anyway.
I believe in moments.  Moments of happiness that are incredible, amazing, and mystifying.  These are moments that can literally change the course of your life.  Moments of Happiness are what drives us.  I believe that we are working all the time not to be happy, but to achieve moments of Happiness.  We are driven to it, hunger for it, and when we have those perfect moments... it is enough to feed us until we find the next moment.
A friend of mine a few weeks ago posted on FB "What makes you happy?" And I took it to mean, what brings me happiness?  What triggers those moments of perfection, when all the pieces fall into place and i experience something i imagine is akin to Godlike Happiness.  My answer?
Freedom.
I'm not talking about pledge of allegiance and American flag type of freedom... i'm talking about something else.  And i know most of you don't know what i'm getting at, so i will elaborate.
The first time i remember experiencing Happiness was when i was in Ecuador in the summer of 2011.  We had had an amazing day as usual roaming around Tena.  We were in the back of a pickup truck taxi going about 100kph down a dark jungle road.  The sky was clear and the stars were shining and the moon was glowing and giving more light than most of us growing up near cities can imagine.  The air was hot but the wind was cool as we smiled and joked and raced past the jungle on either side, headed home for the night.
And that's when i felt it.
This pure, incredible, powerful Happiness.  I literally felt as though i could take off in flight if i wanted to.  I felt my own light radiating out from me.  I can't explain this feeling.  But i can say it was the most powerful and influential feeling i have ever felt in my life. and the simplest way i can explain it is this:
I was free.
I was about to graduate, having an incredible experience down in Ecuador.  I was getting married soon, i was the master of my own fate.  i was free to do anything.  and i could do anything.  and God loved me for who i was.
I was free.
Limitless.
Anything was possible.
It only lasted a moment.  But it was a moment that I think defines me.  I've been happy, i've felt joy, and excitement, and peace... but never so powerfully, and never at the same time, and never without some other reservation or feeling sneaking around in the background.  it was truly, completely, incredible.
And when i as at a low point, i hated the memory i had of this moment.  I thought it was so cruel that i knew a taste of Godlike Happiness only to fall into hellish misery.  It honestly made my sadness seem so much deeper... having fallen so far from where i once had been.
But then I came to China.  And on top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, i had a similar experience. My misery was washed away and i was left with the same feeling.  I was left with that same powerful declaration I AM FREE.  I felt as though i had broken the chains of my misery with my bare hands and escaped from the deepest, darkest, dankest dungeon that I could ever imagine.
And it only lasted a moment. With the sun shining and the wind in my hair and the knowledge that i was doing something, that i was the master of my life, and that i could decide my own fate.
And it shocked me.  It honestly did.  I was exhausted by such a heightened emotion.  even though it didn't last for very long.  The energy it took to feel such a wonderful thing sucked me dry.  Being sad doesn't take much effort... really it doesn't.  it just sort of feels inevitable sometimes.  being angry takes energy, being happy takes energy... but Happiness will fill you up and leave you feeling like you just swam five miles.
I don't believe we can achieve true Happiness in this life, mostly because i attribute the few moments of Happiness i have felt as Godlike in nature.  I believe that this is the Happiness we will achieve when we leave this life, and return to our Lord.
And so here I am, living and working in China.  When i ask myself 'when was the last time you really smiled?' the answer is no longer 'i don't remember' but rather 'oh last week when we went hiking'  or 'yesterday when the little boy ran up and hugged me tight.' i can definitely say that i am happier here than i think i ever was in Provo... don't get me wrong, i've met amazing people in provo, received a wonderful education, and had amazing jobs... but that was all mixed in with the ever present "oh she's a jack mormon" stigma that follows me from congregation to congregation in varying degrees of persecution. if provo is predominantly cookie-cutter people, i'm a banana.  or a watermelon.  it just doesn't work.
i find it really funny, though, that i'm in a communist country, yet i feel more free than i did at home in the good ol' US of A.  it's kind of ironic, don't you think?
But back on track, yes Happiness is exhausting.  really.  But it is well worth the effort.  Here I am, knowing that having moments of Happiness is possible.  And so I will go hunting for the next moment. and the next. and the next.  Until the day i die.  I will always seek after these moments, as exhausting as they are.  And they're not phony. you can't formulate them.  everything just has to fall into place and then all of a sudden you feel it.  you have a moment.  a moment that you share with no one except yourself.  a moment where you know that you are exactly who you are meant to be and are exactly where you are meant to be.  a moment where you are truly and completely free.

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