Okay, this sounds like it’s about to be super cynical. Stick with me. It will work its way out into something positive (because POSITIVITY!!!).
This year of metamorphosis has been such a good thing for me.
As I’ve written before, it’s really stemmed from this unconditional self love paired with a deeper understanding of myself.
This all seemed to provide a great presence of clarity in my life. Which is why I had no trouble filling out this self-reflective survey I stumbled upon.
The one question, though, asked: “When were you your happiest?”
I did a quick scan through my mind to visit some of my favorite memories, but I knew it was pointless.
I am my happiest now.
It freaked me out.
Later that day over dinner with a friend, I needed to talk about it.
“I took a survey and it asked me when I was my happiest. I said now.” I told her. As I said the words, I felt unsettled.
She just looked at me. Waiting for me to elaborate on why my expression looked so tormented.
She thought this happiness was something to celebrate.
I felt guilty.
I felt disappointed in myself for my happiest self to come during a part of my life post-mother.
I guess I just always assumed my best self was when she was alive. Like maybe I was betraying her by admitting that my happiest was now and not then.
Granted, it just so happens that the least happy time of my life was after her death, as well. I had nowhere to go but up.
But, I’ve surpassed everything I’ve ever known as I grew and evolved into this version of myself.
So, then, I asked her. “When were you your happiest?”
And she wasn’t so sure what to say at first. We felt like we had to define what this meant to us.
Initially when we heard the question, we both jumped to events. Singular moments.
And to be fair, most of my favorite, happiest moments were back then. Times spent with her. Those moments last within my spirit every single day. They’ve shaped the now.
But, to put a blanket statement over a “happiest time,” it should come from a place that holds more depth. Something all encompassing to yourself.
It’s really something that speaks to your entire state of being.
We both decided that our happiest self and our happiest moments don’t necessarily have to align.
She told me that this time and this now was a result of such hard work on my end.
It wasn’t like I just woke up and was gifted with a happiness.
It’s even probable that I’ve connected with this inner sense of contentment solely because of what I’ve lost.
Really we just went back and forth and around in circles until I found a way not to feel guilty about my present state.
And I realize that my situation is specific, but I think it’s really common to feel guilty for our happiness when so much other stuff is going on in the world. Ugly stuff.
And I also realize that I’m typically a voice telling other people to never apologize for their happiness.
That this necessary selfishness is an important part of personal growth. (Sidenote: this is only speaking to that healthy selfishness I’ve defined in other pieces. This is not condoning a selfishness at the expense of others. Kindness first, always.)
But, man, it was hard to accept and celebrate myself when I felt so conflicted.
So, hi. I’m Emily and I had a really hard time following my own advice.
I meditated on this and tried to reason with myself and find a way to make this more accessible, since it was so difficult for me.
I think it came down to a super generic concept: If you aren’t the happiest, most content version of yourself, what true good are you doing for anyone else?
The happier I feel, the more I feel capable of sending goodness out into other people’s heart spaces. And I only want this to grow as I move through life.
All of these problems in the world. The sadness. The heartbreak. It needs to be treated from a place that harnesses love and acceptance.
All of the care we want to put out into the world should be a reflection of our care for ourselves.
And if your happiest isn’t now. I encourage you to ruminate on this.
When were you your happiest? Why?
Have a conversation with yourself and maybe consider what you need to do to get back in that place.
You deserve to feel that warm peacefulness wash over you.
Does this even make sense? I’m not sure if I actually found the right words.
But it seemed important.
Sending you my love as I encourage you to never apologize for your own happiness. You need you.
Emily Perrott, The Sunflower Child