The most clichéd and jaded word that has been used by every human at least once in a lifetime is “happiness.” We claim it when we receive a gift that we really wanted. We claim happiness when we have a day without conflict. We even claim happiness when we are in a relationship with someone else.
After having many conversations with a plethora of different people, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What is happiness? What does it even mean?” As I sat in class I examined the convoluted responses of what many believed happiness meant to them and came to one conclusion. That although happiness has one concrete definition in a dictionary, there is a different personal meaning for everyone.
I remember the first time someone asked me what was my true source of happiness and did it contribute to my life’s journey. It was this year, seven years after the traumatic growing days of middle school and just shy of the painful four-year experience called high school. I was shocked that I did not know the answer, and moreover, I was upset with myself that I never thought of this question before.
Of course, there were the times where I went through things to get to where I am now. The clichéd split family, the overcoming of adversity to pay for Morehouse, the long nights in where I believed that I could not recover from anything I was going through; and while those experiences were definitely an integral part of my life, I knew not how they contributed to my happiness and journey. I made it a challenge to myself to find out my true source of happiness, and day by day I tried with no avail.
Then one day, in a classroom filled with the sun’s radiant light and the birds loudly softened voice it came to me. The true source of happiness is not tangible, it is not one facet of your life, nor is it a person. Happiness comes from one’s own journey in life. The journey spans from all trials and tribulations to all moments full of glee.
I’ll tell you what happiness is. It is the smile of assurance after the storm of confusion. It is the sunshine revealed after the overshadowing clouds have been cast away. It is being proud that the tailor to your life did not let you alter your morals. Happiness is knowing you will go through a storm but the sun will inevitably rise. It’s a definition I came up with from many years of experience and pain.
One may wonder the motives behind writing an article on something that is instilled in us as little children. Happiness has been a taught emotion since we were born. This ideology is thrown upon us that happiness is coupled with a smile and rays of sunshine. It is not. Many people are on a search for an existential happiness but are afraid to go through experiences in order to find it.
For example, in relationships one of two things can happen. Either it flourishes into a fairy tale story, or it crumbles like the walls of Jericho. In any case, the relationship has taught you things that you never would have known.
In many instances, we are taught that having someone with us as a companion is better than being alone; that being alone is some kind of mental disorder. As if happiness in many cases does not lie in the depths of solitude. Some are so scared to experience different types of relationships, because society has taught them that happiness lies in the relationships that are accepted culturally.
Have you been following society’s definition of happiness or your own? Ask yourself, what is your main source of happiness? Do you even know it? If not, how do you find it? Experience is there to help and teach you. Are you looking for happiness in places your experience has warned you never to return to?
Darren Wesley Martin, Jr.
Associate Opinions Editor