Happiness — internal warmth hoping to be eternal — resides occasionally in our hearts, minds and souls. A complex emotion we can never adequately articulate, it comes and goes, fading further into the abyss with each tick of the clock. Though fickle, it is cherished for the time it can spare, and we always wish it might return stronger as joy.
To understand happiness, we must first comprehend its absence. In doing so, we encounter anger, discontentment, sadness and numbness. No matter where we turn in life’s labyrinth, there will always be more opportunities to not be happy. Reversing this absence, filling voids and mending scars are paths we cannot always control. Without control, hate may overshadow love, pain may disrupt comfort and we may feel lost. Yet, I believe absence of happiness is contingent on hope, and hope is attracted to the beat of your heart.
Hope allows us to seek help, take time, and learn more about ourselves along the way. It illuminates a path in the darkness, drying our tears and setting us back on our feet for the journey ahead. In my personal journey, I have found resilient hope in my faith in God. There is a common misconception that believing in God makes life easier. My faith does not promise me a life free from storms, but it grants me peace and stability in their midst. Supplemented by faith, the fickle happiness I once tirelessly searched for turns into sustained joy.
Still, the journey to joy is riddled with obstacles and illusions. Happiness is subjective to time, identity and experience. Though my current perception of happiness will surely change in the future, I know there will forever remain sources I cannot outgrow. My family, girlfriend and dog are the most immediate ones that come to mind. When the precious memories I have with each one feel distant, I can rediscover happiness directly from them. Whether it be watching television with my family, facetiming my girlfriend or hugging my dog after a long day at school, happiness is abundant in love. I believe in this idea so much, I would declare this love to be joy.
My loved ones are not just sources of happiness; they are also sources of support. When I fail, they empower me to bounce back with refreshed energy and a will to succeed. When I fall, they help me back onto my feet and nudge me forward. When my mind tells me I am not enough, they remind me of who I am. They tether me to a life of meaning and purpose, inspiring me to be a better version of myself. They motivate me to create my own joy.
External sources of happiness are important, but the joy you cultivate from within is what ultimately determines your development. I call this everlasting sentiment “eternal-internal joy.” In the throes of adversity, eternal-internal joy nourishes the spirit and calms the mind. In its presence, you do not need to block out or ignore the pain you feel. It repurposes that pain into a reference point, accentuating moments of happiness. This reference point fosters appreciation of simplicity. Daily actions such as breathing, eating, observing nature or spending time with loved ones gain new significance. They are no longer overlooked; instead, they contrast past pain and grant us hope for the future.
As I build my future, I strive to adhere to one particular maxim: true happiness is what you leave behind as a result of what you feel inside. Committing time and care to causes beyond yourself will show you there is more to life than outstanding grades, prestigious awards or societal standards. Although we often feel required to pursue such endeavors, any happiness resulting from success feels momentary until replaced by the next goal on the agenda. While ambition is integral, it should not consume you in a pit of discontentment.
Sometimes you have to pause, reevaluate your path, alter your trajectory and pursue what truly matters in your heart, mind and soul. Whenever I take this necessary step back, I am led to purposes beyond myself — community service, acts of kindness and compassion. Once I dilate my gaze beyond the demanding, self-absorbed lens of life, I see a world I hope to positively impact now and long after I am gone. Happiness thrives in the transmission of internal goodness to an external world. The circulation of happiness cultivates joy, which complements our beautiful, unique and diverse identities.
In your journey toward eternal-internal joy, hold tight to your loved ones, allocate time for self-care and seek help when needed. Though the journey is long and treacherous, we have each other for support. Even if I may not know you personally, know that I am cheering for you as you champion life and bless the world with your presence.
To every incredible person reading this article, I wish you countless moments of happiness and a lifetime of eternal-internal joy.