Don’t Worry, Be Happy (For Now)

Katherine Speller

I promised myself I wouldn’t be shooting rays of sunshine and Owl City  lyrics out of my butt when I wrote this, but I’m in too much of a good mood at the moment.

I have a delicious vegan cookie in my lap; it tastes like a bacchanalian sugary orgy on my taste buds. I just deleted the last item off my “to do” list and it’s relieving to realize that all I need to do is exist for the next 12 hours. It’s cold outside, but just the right amount of not cold inside, leaving the air brisk, refreshing and breathable. It smells like fall, even though it’s winter. The sun is even starting to set and it’s casting a pretty light on the tree branch outside and I’m becoming so emotionally moved by the beauty of being alive that I’m going to stop talking about it and glancing over at the window longingly to force myself to focus. I could go on, but it would only prove to be more embarrassing.

In short, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

I’m seldom like this, so I thought I’d savor the moment. I don’t take pride in my abnormally morbid disposition, but I’m not all that cheery by nature. Let’s just say that I don’t find myself marveling at the exquisite lighting on the tree branch all that often. My sisters have been calling me Debra (after Debbie Downer), after my penchant for spouting mortality statistics and my uncanny ability to kill a good mood.

But I suppose I’ve always been looking for answers to one major question: how can you be happy?

Every adult leading up to the end of my secondary education promised me that getting good grades (to get into a good college, to get a good job, to make good money, etc.) was the way to find it. But is stability really akin to happiness?

I’d imagine that having nothing to spoil your mood is a necessity; having nothing poking you with a metaphorical stick or pestering you with an allegorical dog whistle can help you out of any rut. But, there had to be something more.

There had to be some profoundness to happiness. Why else would we ponder and crave it?

Maybe it was right of me to look back to the Internet. I saw several interpretations of happiness while trolling through Tumblr posts and Facebook quotes: It was dancing in the rain, shooting the shit with your friends, a warm cup of tea, an ice cold beer, a brief meeting of eyes from across the room leaving neither party uncomfortable. One thing all these had in common was the connection to the sensations of the present and that wonder found in the moment. Not in the quest for stability, but in the fleeting pleasures.

The misspelled and heinously hokey quotes posted on Facebook and embroidered on decorative pillows all preach the virtues of “living for the moment” and that “there is no time like the present” and they seem so meaningless and overused. They’ve been handled by so many other people that we find it hard to want to touch them the same way.

But, maybe these seemingly-contrived things appear in such a way because they are just so meaningful that even the most vapid of troglodytes can cling to them. That the lame and clichéd notions get to be that way because they are the closest things to truth we have.

Happiness is found in the moment. It’s not a permanent state of being. I won’t wake up tomorrow feeling nearly as good as I do right now. Hell, I won’t feel this good five minutes from now. The sun will set, I’ll finish this glorious cookie and I’ll be the charming Debbie Downer I’ve always been, spouting death statistics in elevators, conspiring to terrorize patrons of the Justin Bieber movie and panicking about everything I need to get done before Monday. Whether it be happiness or stress, everything is very much temporary.

Maybe you aren’t destined to be miserable or destined to be happy. Maybe the idea of happiness as a stasis is wrongly thought. Maybe you’re simply destined to be just the right amount of both. Those moments (when every person you come in contact with is an intolerable asshole, no one can drive and your coffee is just a little bit too hot for you to comfortably slurp) only exist to make the other moments (when you’re thankful for all the vegan bakers, pretty sunsets and blank ‘to do’ lists) that much better.

Hang in there.