It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
Lyrics of Feeling Good, famous song from the 60’s
Just in case you were wondering, and since several of you so sweetly expressed concern over my less-than-joyous mood from last week, I figured I better follow up with an update. Given my introduction with the Feeling Good lyrics (my favorite versions of it are Nina Simone’s and Michael Bublé’s), I’m sure you’ve figured it out… I am feeling good indeed. Still sleep deprived (by my own not-so-smart choosing) and therefore exhausted, but I woke up in a great mood today, and life seems wonderful again.
I do have several reasons to be pretty content with my life, and most of those reasons are always present, even in my dark hours. I also have one particular reason to be overjoyed at the moment, an upcoming trip to New York, that I’m totally excited about. However, my good mood today, though I’m sure influenced by those reasons, was more of the quiet and simple joy kind.
I was just trying to find a quote or two that could better described this kind of joy I’m currently experiencing (and often do), when I found this one in an article called 11 Things We Know About Joy at Oprah.com: “It (joy) doesn’t always announce itself with great fanfare. It can hum, quietly, underneath.” Which it’s eeeexactly what I’m talking about.
Most of the times we think of happiness or happy moments as this ecstatic, loud, over-the-top, euphoric feelings coming over us due to a specific situation (e.g. winning the lottery!) happening at the time. Of course, this is an accurate description of a happy/joyful moment, but it’s not the only description. We often overlook the quieter, more simple joyful moments. The ones that need no particular circumstance to occur to come about. The contentment we experience when looking at the sunset, a child laughing, feeling a fresh breeze pass by or enjoying a good conversation with a loved one. Those happy moments are greatly underrated, yet those are the ones that really add up to create a real happy life.
When I was younger I used to live exclusively for the euphoric moments, the really high ups, always waiting for the next big thing to happen that could bring such a high. Unfortunately, this kind of attitude towards joy usually comes at the price of some pretty deep lows. Still, I didn’t care, in fact, I thought that just made the highs even better, the ride more interesting; I even came to believe those deep lows were necessary to be able to get to the highs. Although, I still believe the down cycles do make us appreciate the up cycles better, I no longer desire to live that way, always bouncing back and forth between such extreme states of mind and emotion. I’m no longer afraid my life might be boring without the extreme contrasts. Actually, I crave that kind of “boring” life, where I can just peacefully sail along, enjoying the simple things in life, and getting thru the less pleasant ones without adding any unnecessary drama to them. Drew Barrymore expressed this same feeling perfectly in an In Style interview back in February 2012, “It’s funny, when I was younger, I used to say I’d hate a flat line- that I want the ups and downs, the roller coaster. But I’m actually really enjoying the flat line.”
There is such comfort and peace in the “flat line”. And it doesn’t necessarily make the highs less exciting, but it certainly makes the lows less dramatic. Happiness becomes less of a search for ‘drunk with joy’ experiences. Like it was also brilliantly put in the aforementioned Oprah.com article, “That expression “drunk with joy” is something of a misnomer. Joy is a bracingly sobering experience. It’s not a forgetting of troubles. It isn’t naïve. It isn’t blinkered. It isn’t a state of oblivion. When one’s joyful, one’s eyes are open. There is, in joy, an utter fidelity to the world.” So, though I still enjoy the “drunk with joy” moments, it’s the more subdued joyful moments the really define happiness for me nowadays. And I am immensely grateful for each one of them.
What defines your happiness?