Alone on the streetcar last night, I initiated conversation with the lovely lady driver. Our conversation was short but stimulating. We had started talking about the weather, innocuous enough. Then how global warming was throwing the whole world out of whack. How difficult it was to regulate yourself when the world around us was in such chaos. Then she confessed something to me, in the way one can only confess something to a stranger. She wasn’t happy. She could recall how happy her Grandmother had been and that she worried she would never be that happy. This short conversation lingered with me long after I had gotten off the streetcar and trudged the last few drippy feet to my door. Turning my key and closing the door behind me I realized what it was that had worked me up. She was so quick to admit she wasn’t happy. It seems like most people I know feel the same and that makes me unhappy.
Happiness is intangible. It cannot be held, except in the form of a baby bunny. It cannot be trapped. Most people expect happiness in bunches and typically it clusters together, but you can’t stock pile it or save it for later. Happiness has to be used right away. The concept of Happiness was patented by Hallmark at the same time as Valentine’s and Secretary’s Days. That’s not to say that happiness doesn’t exist. It does. There is a physiological chemical reaction that occurs within the brain, heart and body when we are “happy”. But it isn’t that dream job, the ideal apartment or the perfect partner that makes us happy. Striving for that and expecting happiness to follow limits your capacity for the experiences that bring true Happiness. Happiness is the pink sky before the sun sets. It’s also that special smell your pets have, which is sometimes kinda yucky. The spinning contest you have with your BFF. It’s way you feel waking up in Sunday morning without an alarm. These little things are where we should focus our search for happiness.
People we are fighting too hard for happiness. Our expectation for fiscal happiness is greater than any other time in history. Never before have there been 25-year-old billionaires. Which can also create unhappiness, as being a 30-year-old $50 dollar-naire those standards seem impossible, and yet somehow expected. Our consumer driven North American market tempts us to seek happiness in the things we buy. The car we drive. But it’s not. Those are just things. Working towards being happy can be a full-time job. But what I hope is that even just once a day, for just a few minutes the people I love were happy. Taking tiny baby steps towards remembering Happiness is attainable if you are willing to let yourself be happy. As for my lovely lady streetcar driver, I hope she found a few moments of happiness in our conversation, but knowing the TTC, she probably didn’t.