Before we begin, I want you to think about what happiness is to you, not what does it mean but what is it to you. This post is designed to be interactive in order for you, my readers to get the most out of it. Normally I’d give examples of situations where happiness is expected but not this time. I want your unbiased definition of your happiness. Physically write it down, make a note in your phone or write it in the dirt, the goal is for you to physically see what happiness is to you truly, before we leap down, yet another rabbit hole together. The goal is to be unapologetically honestly with ourselves, no matter the cringe factor.
I’ll share what my 2015 definition of what happiness was to me and what it is now. This was back during a team building exercise and we wrote them knowing we were the only ones that were going to see them, encouraging us to be 100% truthful with ourselves:
“Happiness is, being skinny, having a high paying job with little to no schooling and to find my one true love.”-Brittany Welch 2015
At the time my definition of happiness was perfect but now I wince. In order to grow we must first find a lesson and we do that by being honest with ourselves. If you aren’t truthful with the people in your life, then the least you can do is be outlandishly honest with yourself. So, let’s begin with “being skinny”. There’s no coincidence that it’s the first thing I wrote down. In 2015 my eating disorder was on a full rampage and being desired was my number one concern. I was looking for the love that I couldn’t give myself. At the time if you asked me why being skinny was important, I would’ve said that being skinny and HEALHTY was a critical part of life. (I always added on being ‘healthy’ when I was speaking to others, but during this exercise I didn’t write it.) Yet, I was throwing up every meal I ate, constantly counting calories and looking at myself in the mirror with disappointment each day. I was skinny, but at the cost of my health, both physically and mentally.
I might have looked happy and preached a happy lifestyle, but I was nowhere near it. I was stuck in a battle of wanting to tell people but not want to admit that I was living a lie. It took me quite a while to recognize that obtaining and maintaining my idea of “being skinny” wasn’t bringing me happiness and it surely wasn’t making me healthy. I was chasing an image, not reality.
Early 2018 I started experiencing major health issues and I assumed it was because of my eating disorder. I had a choice to make. Continue down the path of self-destruction and possibly, dead. Not to sound brash but that’s the reality of eating disorders. Or I could choose to live and quit binging cold turkey. Cold turkey was the only way it was going to work. I know me and I knew what my patterns were from past tries and weaning wasn’t going to do the job. I immediately told my partner at the time everything. Everything from when it started, why it started, the desire for me to continue to binge, and most importantly the signs of me getting ready for a binge. I told him all my secret ways of hiding it, this way since we were living together at the time, there was no way for me to mask it anymore. That was my first step in finding, what is now, my true definition of happiness.
Alright, let’s see what we’re left with since we crossed out, “being skinny”, oh yes, “having a high paying job with little to no schooling..”. For many, money is a pacifier for happiness and is also a deadly cover-up for serious depression and allows for an unlimited number of ways for diverting away from their problems. “Sometimes the happiest person isn’t the one driving the expensive car or wearing the gold rings, it’s the one walking down the street who’s dripping with self-growth that no one can see” -Brittany Welch 2022. My pacifier of choice was retail management.
Contrary to popular belief, retail managers get paid a lot more than society thinks. I started at the bottom of the ladder, so I understood how employees wanted to be treated, I knew the struggles of being scheduled a ‘clopen’, (when you close and then open the next day), and most importantly I learned what kind of manager I didn’t want to be. The higher I climbed, the higher the expectations got, and the margin of error grew smaller. I became more data oriented, money driven and strayed away from the person who I truly loved to be. I’m someone who helps people to better themselves, regardless of if that meant they had to leave the store and go on to bigger adventures. This of course, wasn’t conducive in the retail environment. This constant battle between wanting what’s best for the person and wanting what’s best for the company became too strong and thankfully I had a few life altering surgeries and realized money didn’t equal happiness. That’s when I crossed out my second idea of what I thought happiness is to me.
Now, all we’re left with is, “finding your one true love.”. Before I get into it, let me give you the Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word happy, “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.”. It’s almost exactly what my idea was, but mine meant something completely different. At the time I was finding love and happiness from others and used that as my main source, instead of manifesting it for myself. Yeah, my definition might’ve looked perfect on paper, but it’s the intention I had set behind it that gave it it’s ill intent. Once I cultivated happiness and love for myself, finding my one true love was then transformed into a want instead of a need.
Well, it looks like we 86’d the whole definition. So, what’s next? When I first started this journey, I found myself in a deep depression and for a good reason, I just demolished my whole perception of happiness. I had thoughts like, “Do I even know what happiness is?”, and “have the “happy” times I’ve already experienced, even been truly happy?”. This is what I like to call a personal rabbit hole, one that you CHOOSE to go down, but also one that you have the CHOICE to pull yourself back out of. One who’s climb back up will be met with many challenges and inner struggles but once you’ve learned and grown from the climb, you appreciate the beautiful of view from the peak.
Once I finally saw my summit and I knew was close to my peak, I knew needed to ask myself the ultimate question in order to finish my climb, what is happiness to Brittany Welch?
“Happiness is being healthy not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Happiness is also spreading unconditional love, kindness and guidance to those around you and those in need without strings attached and finally happiness is loving yourself for the good and learning from and forgiving yourself for the bad and the ugly.”-Brittany Welch 2022
Now it’s your turn to look back at your first definition of happiness. Hopefully you wrote it down before reading this post and can see what your unbiased view on happiness really is or was. Ask yourself, why does this bring me happiness? Does it make me happy for the right reasons? Am I being authentic about it? Now it’s your turn to be unapologetically honest with yourself when you answer this last question again, what is happiness to you?