Why happiness is scary

Happiness. Even though we all have our own definition of happiness – from having a reason to smile to having to smile for no reason, yes, think about that one twice ;) – for most of us it comes pretty natural to be happy. Of course, we all experience the occasional ‘down’ besides our ‘ups’, but I dare to say that many of us are lucky, and therefore happy, to have great family or friends, a roof above their heads and enough food to survive (and yes, I’m aware of the fact that for some there’s more to happiness that just that, but just to make a point). I have been reading quite some articles about happiness and its origins, but one article by Robert Holden caught my attention. He states that we often relate to happiness as something special. Or odd. Or lucky. But on the other hand we don’t really greet happiness with open arms for one reason: we don’t trust it. And I’m pretty sure he’s right.

A lot to be grateful for.

Applying this to my personal situation: I’m pretty happy. Or wait: I’m pretty f*cking happy! I’ve got a great boyfriend (we’ve been together for 15 years now), we live together in a lovely apartment in one of our favourite areas in Amsterdam. I’ve got a great job, am surrounded by great people, have a healthy body and lots of other things to be grateful for. So let’s blame my cautious nature for it, but somehow I’m always waiting for the fall. Waiting for things to go wrong. I admit this may sounds as a very negative take on life, but even though I don’t consider myself a negative person, it’s the truth. Just not a pretty one.

That comforting embrace.

I allow myself to enjoy the happy moments – of course – but as soon as the experiences are starting to get more intense or deep, I’m too afraid to loose it. Let’s get even more personal here: this might have anything to do with the fact that a lot of things in my life have always been guided by self doubt and I guess I doubt my happiness as much as I doubt myself. I often have the feeling I never fully understood happiness, because the comforting embrace self doubt and fear have been giving me for such a long time. It’s weird, but this state has been my default state and without it I feel exposed.

… but then I realised.

It took me years to realise that happiness was never about the things I thought it were. It wasn’t about that raise. The amount of friends. The fancy clothes. It was never about being like others. About being who other people tell you to be. It was never about living someone else’s dreams, following in the footsteps of someone else’s path, complying to rules and regulations someone else has drawn out for you. All this time it was about connection. About embracing the concept that peace of mind, recovery, self reflection are such huge parts of leading a successful and eventually a happy life. For me it has been about being kinder to myself. It has been about realising that I’m more than the sum of the difficulties I face. It was about being me. All this time it was all about being me.

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