By Gloria Smith Cisse, LPC, LMSW, CTRTC
Happiness is not simply the absence of sadness. Happiness is much more. It is a place of peace, comfort, quiet, beauty, and contentment. It seems the thing we are always chasing is a kind of excitement that comes from getting something that we felt we have always wanted or needed. This can be synonymous with drug addiction or thrill seeking. I have never really enjoyed roller coasters and I don’t believe emotional roller coasters are any different.
A few days ago while I was in my car driving from one work site to the next, I thought about happiness. Questions like: What is happiness for me?, Am I happy right now?, and How would people know I am happy? danced around in my mind. It occurred to me that I had not been “happy” in some time. It also occurred to me that I was also not sad. About a week before Thanksgiving 2015, I lost my mother. I should be sad, right?
Some of my sisters and I communicate with each other on an almost daily basis. It feels like they are having a much harder time adjusting to life after our mother’s death than I am. I was thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me because I was not as sad as they appeared to be. I had made a choice to not depress. I had not told them that, I don’t know if they would have understood. I made the choice years ago because I had already spent too many years of my life being “clinically depressed.”
I have made a choice to get off the happiness – sadness roller coaster. I can enjoy the happiness more because I experienced, understand, and appreciate the sadness. I have learned to respect and give sadness its time because I know that it does not last forever. As a matter of fact, I choose to not depress.
Since that night alone in my car, I have decided that neutral, a place of balance, peace, contentment, and weightlessness, is a great place to be. It takes effort to remain balanced. Anyone who has ever tried yoga will tell you, it’s hard! I am not chasing happiness. The mental picture I have is one coasting at my own pace and being surrounded by the things and people I enjoy. This does not mean that I will avoid happiness. It means that for now I will do my life and enjoy the peace that comes from simply doing my life. I will choose the amount of time I spend sad. I will not live on an emotional roller coaster.
I prefer to think of it as living like a “weeble wobble.” Some of you may remember, “weebles; wobble but the don’t fall down.” I can wobble from side to side but I will not remain in any one place too long, except neutral…smile!