On Mental Health, Politics

What is happiness anyway?

After the election was called this weekend, someone said to me, “I bet you so happy now!” And it sent me into this existential crisis trying to understand: What is happiness anyway?

I mean, did the election results make me happy? OF COURSE. I was actually not prepared for the relief I would feel when the networks/AP officially called the race on Saturday. I mean, I had started to feel confident on Thursday and even more so on Friday so I figured the call was inevitable. And yet…when I heard it? I immediately started crying. I had to give myself a moment.

The thing that really made me feel happy, however, was muting DT on Twitter. I never followed him, but because I follow mainly journalists and political commentators and writers, people quote Tweet him with responses/corrections ALL THE TIME. And now? I can ignore those to. I muted all of his kids and their spouses and a few of his administration who won’t have power after Biden is in office. I don’t have to listen anymore.

But…do these things make me happy? I mean…even if we’re just talking the political spectrum in my life there’s still a lot outside the “happy” range of emotions.

There have been political clashes with local family who we see pretty regularly and my brain is trying to map out what the holidays will look like in response. There’s the annoying conversation around “working together” which I agree with in theory…but in practice, after 4 years under this man? I just disagree with emotionally in my core. There’s my compulsion to organize task lists which is making me desperate for someone smarter than me to tell me how to organize my action items accordingly to make the most of this mandate. There’s the ongoing annoyance with Trump not conceding which is making me feel the rage of 1,000 suns. (Which, I’ll admit was expected.) There’s my personal check-in system to make sure I’m still using my power and my energy to uplift the marginalized voices and follow their lead instead of trying to Cis-White-Savior that shit which tends to be my default setting.

I mean, I felt happiness over the election but did that automatically make me happy? No.

So…what is happiness? I can answer that question if I reflect on a moment. Like…this weekend I went to Green Mountain to check out the leaves with my daughter (who is also obsessed with Autumn). This was before the race was even called. And at any moment during that trip, I would have told you: I AM HAPPY IN THIS MOMENT.

My kids make me laugh all of the time. I have three of the funniest kids on the planet. Seriously. And they like making me laugh because my laugh is loud and ugly and it in itself is hilarious. So I experience a lot of bursts of happiness with my kids. Like this weekend when I asked Wes to help me close my nose ring and he was panicking in this hilarious way like, how is this a required part of my job as your son? In that moment? HAPPY. Even drinking coffee with Eliah Sunday morning as we discussed angering things…HAPPY.

But I would never call myself a happy person overall. Not with the weight of chronic anxiety and depression constantly beating me down in the background of every moment. And honestly? I kinda hate that. I kinda hate that I can’t just say, “YES! I’m happy!” to someone after my side wins a pivotal election. But in reality I’m thinking, “I mean…happy in the moment BUT THERE IS STILL WORK TO DO. And I am still sleepless and anxious and depressed about it all! DO YOU KNOW HOW DEPRESSING CAPITALISM IS? HOW IS ANYONE HAPPY IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY?”

I’m a joy, aren’t I?

So. The election results definitely gave me momentary bursts of happiness. As did time with my kids and time with my husband and snuggles form my dog. But I’ll never just…be happy. And I’m becoming more and more okay with that.

2 thoughts on “What is happiness anyway?”

  1. I wonder how many people really are just happy, all or even most of the time? I think it’s key to notice when you are happy in the moment. Great photos!

  2. Good for you for giving yourself grace, and recognizing being happy in that moment! As life is a series of moments, focusing on the good and happiness when and where those emotions are present is a huge thing, because it’s a struggle for many of us to be able to do so.

    As for the election, I know there is still a lot of work to be done to heal our country, but having a game plan and better leaders makes me very relieved, if not outright happy.

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