Happiness is Like a Cloud
Nearly a year and a half into my journey, the most common question I get asked from friends, colleagues and family is: "Are you at least happy?"
Most times, I pause for a few seconds.
I don't know how it looks on the outside but inside it’s all alarm bells and panic. It's as if I'm back in my statistics mid term exam in university where I stared blankly at the questions as if I was asked something from another language. Just pure panic and the gut wrenching feeling it wasn't going to end well.
Then I blurt out "Yes, I am".
It's not a lie. Neither is it wrong. I do feel like I am but it’s not as simple as a one word answer.
I practice gratitude every day and focus on creating a positive mental state but it's nothing like being asked the question "Are you happy?"
The difficulty in answering this question does not come from the fact that I'm not happy. I believe I very much am. Even if doing what I want to do means hearing "You're crazy, that won't work, why would people care about that, that is not a priority for the business...." and all other kinds of "feedback".
It’s just that, the question doesn't seem as black and white to me anymore. It's like asking "What do you get if you add a desk and a lion?". It doesn't matter what the answer is because the question itself is ridiculous.
I think the question would be easy to answer if I was not happy. It would be a simple "No."
When I was in a job, role or task that I didn't like, it was a simple question I'd ask myself and I would have a simple answer: "No, this does not make me happy."
But now, as I've been on a journey living the life I want (with some resource constraints) the question itself starts to feel funny.
One reason the question may feel difficult may be because I've forgotten about the vocabulary itself. The word "happiness" just doesn't pop up often.
Rather, it's like some momentary fluttering feeling I get. It just seeps into my soul like a morning fog that envelops Vancouver on a Fall morning.
I recently felt it during one of my 'creativity' sessions as I looked out at Toronto's harbour as I sat there with my book inside a Starbucks. Just a calming and tranquil feeling where it just feels uplifting and my mind feels clear. It's nothing like feeling "excited". I don't feel the pounding adrenaline of my heart here.
This has been what I've grown accustomed to as happiness. It comes and goes and I'll only feel it if I've created an environment that will let me feel it. It's nothing like the feeling of getting a new job or winning something. Those feelings are more like relief, excitement and something else. They seem like a drug shot.
It's this calming and unsuspecting feeling that makes me think that happiness is like a cloud.
Many people look at it from afar and admire it. It's a common desire for people to "be floating on the clouds". Even if they know that scientifically they can't float on the clouds. Books and cartoons will make clouds appear soft and tangible but the reality is that you'd just fall right through them if you jumped on them.
I think that's what the pursuit of happiness is akin to. It's like chasing clouds and hoping to bounce on them.
From afar one will imagine what it’s like to touch it, feel it, and be in it and just lament his current position right now of not being in the clouds.
But once you've been in it.... built a life of what people consider 'happiness' to be... I think it becomes a state.
A kind of state where it just feels like breathing. You forget about it. Then sometimes you remember that you have to breathe and just like that you feel happiness sweep into your life. Then it goes away and you continue on with your day.
Like a cloud, it comes and goes.