Happiness. What is happiness, really?
For me happiness has always been at the core of my being, the thing I strive for more than anything else. But is happiness a goal or more of a state of being? Do we work really hard for a single moment of extreme satisfaction or is there a way to change your mindset in a way that can give you an unwavering sense of peace and calm with yourself and what you are doing?
I think at least in American society, we are highly goal driven individuals. We put some sort of value on something we can't quite reach and when we reach it we assume it will make us feel fulfilled. Like our life has meaning beyond the day to day mundaneness that occupies our time. We believe that when we can reach these goals we can achieve a state of amelioration that makes us feel like we are a better person in all areas of life. But that's exactly the trap that pseudo-happiness wants to snare you in. When you work really hard and achieve that thing you so desperately desired, after the accolades, back pats, and high-fives and dispersed you realize you aren't any more of a person than you were before. That moment of extreme fulfillment is then replaced with this feeling of emptiness. Without something to strive for anymore you lose your sense of self and self-worth. Is this how happiness is supposed to feel?
And what if you don't even achieve that goal you so desperately sought? Human beings are imperfect, so we have to find something in which we can put ourselves on to provide a solid foundation. When you set your goal as that foundation you also bind your self-worth as a person to whether or not you achieve that thing. When any small thing goes wrong in your pursuit of a goal that foundation can be rocked to its core. You may never recover.
I sometimes lose touch of where I need to set my foundation. Everyone is a little different. Some may find the best foundation is setting your roots on a higher power. A God they can fall back on when everything else in life seems to go wrong. Others might find a more personal ethos or mantra. Something they can live their life by that at the end of the day gives them a greater sense of peace with themselves and those around them. Whatever that may be to you, having that is the first piece to finding what I think happiness truly is. Because happiness is not one single moment. Nor is achieving that state of happiness. It is not something you can control. In fact, finding true happiness usually comes when you least expect it at just the moment you weren't looking for it during the most mundane moments of life. I believe that is why happiness can be such a strong and overwhelming feeling. Expect nothing and you will be surprised by joy. The feeling of happiness is the closest feeling we can have to knowing what perfection feels like.
To draw back to an earlier point, feeling perfection is often very closely related to whatever that thing is that we put our foundation on. Your foundation is much more than just an idea or a concept. It is the very core that you base your understanding of the world on and from which you devise your complex perspectives of the world as well as your emotions tied to all things. To give an example, happiness may come to an artist who believes it was their God-given gift to create art for all the world to see. It is when they create their art that they feel the most at peace because they feel they are doing exactly what they are meant to do. They feel a special connection with a pallet and can see a unique way of blending color and form that affirms that they are doing exactly what they are meant to do in life - and that feeling is what gives them their sense of happiness.
We are all capable of feeling this. In fact, if you can read this and have one shred of logical reasoning in your brain, you probably already identified what your foundation might be. I hope you can identify that foundation as being something beyond something you want to achieve or someone you want to be. There was a time in my life when I did this and realizing it was perhaps one of the most enlightening times in my life.
In college I put my foundation on running. Specifically I set my foundation on making it to the NCAA National Track meet. My progress early in my career seemed to indicate this was possible and like a monk sworn to a vow of silence, I made it my mission to do all things in the name of achieving my goal. The harder I worked, the better I ate, and the more sleep I got, the better my chances were at achieving my goal. The factor I left out of play was the fragility of human nature. Time and time again I had to learn that sometimes you can put every fiber of yourself into something and still fall short. My most human quality was the complete fragility of my body. After setting out for this goal, time and time again I would find myself with torn tendons, fractured bones, and strained ligaments. Each time these things happened, My foundation was completely rocked. I became a shrewd, emotionally unstable, and completely frightened version of myself.
But that's what happens when you put your foundation on something that is so fragile to begin with. Seeking happiness through a man-made goal very rarely ends the way you want it. But seeking happiness though something so much greater than yourself will not only let you reach many moments of happiness, but you may even be surprised to find happiness in failure. When you submit yourself to your own imperfection, you can finally enjoy the process of life and find joy in much smaller things.
I realize this blog appears to have very little to do with myself, my racing, or what I've been doing lately. But I assure you, it actually does. The last few months I've had a lot of thoughts and emotions stirring around. Much of my emotions are rather closely tied to what I've mentioned above. For the moment, I'm still at a point of great uncertainty with my future. But I can say my outlook on how things will turnout is a lot less murky. I can't fully reveal details, as I still don't have any definitive answers. But I can say I have started taking the right steps to getting those answers and I am at much greater peace with how those things may turn out. True to my word, I'll reveal those things as they come. Stay tuned.