By Caroline Numuhire
For three decades now, I am privileged to be alive and to have searched for happiness. What a great adventure it has been, and if God had to take me ten years back, I would cheerfully jump on to the opportunity. However, my journey for happiness was never a straight line with no bruises, and my hunt for happiness has taken different shapes over the years: friendships, extended smiles, work, clothes, food, love, books and the list goes on. Before I actually realised that ‘be happy’, is as simple as holding a child’s hand, or reading a friend’s sarcastic comment, because they get you so well. Happiness has so much simplicity, but I thought it couldn’t be this easy, and yet so hard to access. The truth is that, the access key is locked inside, of each one of us.
I grew mature enough to know that everything, including happiness, happens to be a process. The hard side of conquering happiness, this intangible, invisible, but powerful feeling, first involves cleansing its path to being. I am not sure at which stage of our lives, right all the way from conception to death, we learn to feel not good enough. When that happens, everything else falls out of place. Feeling insufficient is such a lie that I feel saddened by its impact on the greatness of humanity. That maggot of insecurity in women’s hearts and ego in men’s minds, that insult to the highest potential we can touch, that ruthlessness we inflict to our wonderfulness, that torture pan where we fly our talents, that blindness that takes away our power to discern true beauty, that bleeding scar that blocks our route to feeling, texture, sensation, touch, and sensitivity, that untruth that we should amass external belongings, that fear that traps us from what we are meant to be. That lie to what happiness could be and not what it is.
The day I held my own hand, I felt it.
The day you held my hand, I felt it.
The day, I touched my skin, I felt it.
The day I took a nap, I felt it.
The day I chose myself over you, I felt it.
The day I was present for you, I felt it.
The day I kissed them goodbye, I felt it.
The day I read a great book, I felt it.
The day I tested a good meal, I felt it.
I knew it was happiness because it was simple. Nothing but a simple instant. An invitation to stand and suspend in the moment, because it brought me peace. All of me was together and chanting. I grabbed it, wanted to hold it for infinity and suddenly, it slipped between my hands such as a pile of dry sand. Its uniqueness made me believe that happiness might be scant, so I became addicted to look for it, to find and lose it, and to re-find it over and over again. My relationship with happiness started on that uncertain vibe leaving me with a perplex question “Will I feel it again?”
“If you want to”, replied Happiness.
The scarcity mind I was carrying with me told me that happiness was a fancy and inaccessible thing, only granted to the most blessed ones. At the beginning and end of the day, I was the flawed, the imperfect girl, and no one had said my soul could just sing ‘I am Happy’, without feeling that I am an impostor. Let’s be honest, I am not the superstar whose posters are hang on adolescents’ walls. I am not the legend broadcasted on the most famous TV shows. I am not the hero that inspired a bibliography that was made into a movie, and ended up on the Oscar nominations list. I am not the social media influencer with thousands of followers and hundreds of likes. Although I could be all of that, in the meantime…
Who was I to feel happy without feeling like a pretender, a fraud, a deceiver, a charlatan? Who was I to be happy? What did I possess to pretend to that rank? Where did I belong to be entitled to happiness? And here was Madam Happiness arrogantly announcing to me that If I wanted I could be happy. What did Happiness think she was to tell me what to desire or not, as if life could be that simple. However, I had felt it and fallen in love with that instant, so I obeyed. I surrendered and committed to try, at least, to understand why it existed, to discern its science, to discover who Happiness belonged to.
I have to confess that I was a little bit disenchanted in the answer. A total delusion of realizing that it belonged to everyone and existed everywhere. So did that mean that Happiness wasn’t as special as it sounds since it was clearly not a scarce asset? I was taught and I have learnt that what is extremely exquisite in life must be rare. Happiness was not a mystery. It was not a scarcity. It was abundantly available with one condition. Such as the roots of a tree, happiness demanded to be sown and nurtured. In other words, happiness was and will always just remain a choice. A choice to change perspectives, a choice to feel differently, to perceive the reality differently, a choice to never succumb to what threatens that abundant scarcity.
I realized that when cultivated, it can lead from depravation to richness, from wickedness to compassion, from depression to one’s ability to lead a fulfilled life be it spiritually, financially, professionally, and relationship wise. When nurtured, happiness is just fruit that can blossom from one heart to another. Then if happiness is a choice? Why don’t we all pursue it? Maybe we’ve been too comfortable with pain, maybe we don’t know yet its significance, maybe no one taught us what to do with it in this immoral world, where we learn so much to fight with each other and for what we are entitled to. The truth remains unclear to me.
But if you ever wonder how its face looks like, Happiness will reveal itself to you. It might take so many different shapes as long as they fulfill your heart’s needs. It could be choosing people who choose you. It could be choosing yourself over everything else. It could be choosing to silence your worried mind, knowing that good and bad will always coexist. It could be eating ugali, a fresh apple or just a well-ripen banana. Happiness could be feeling the warm rays of a sunset caressing your skin. It could be staying in your bed while everyone else in your home is at church. It could be singing in the rain. It could be in this moment. It’s everywhere and belongs to everyone.
The happiness theory taught me that Happiness is a practical choice. A choice given to all of us.