Are you happy?

That is THE question, is it not?

Sure, I suppose a few may say no and to them I say, “enjoy your misery”, but I’d bet a ton of money most people want to be happy. I know I do. But I’ve also learned it’s not easy and in fact, many people are not happy. And as one who studies philosophy, let me tell you, happiness is elusive and more often than not, it’s something internal and spiritual rather than external and tangible.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this concept of happiness. Some around me seem to be less than happy with their lives and their choices, and as for me, I contemplate this on a regular basis because if there’s anything I want to achieve in this lifetime, it’s happiness.

It’s a tough ass question though, at least in my opinion. I know I’ve been searching for happiness since I was ten years old because that’s when I can recall the first time I felt truly unhappy. I had just moved to Los Angeles, CA from Buffalo, NY and not only did I have no friends and no idea of what this new city was all about, I didn’t know how to act and be myself in a new and unknown setting. I struggled and that’s putting it lightly.

But there’s a story about myself from that time that I’d like to share because it made me realize, even at the young age of ten, what it would take to make oneself happy…

Picture this. A ten-year old girl, who had to leave the suburban upstate NY hometown she knew since her memory began because her father got a job promotion, and her sudden new life in the slick and stylish city of Los Angeles, California. Yes, her dream of making movies fully developed there and so in that sense, LA was a dream come true, but in the day-to-day reality, this young girl made up games to play by herself and she kept her distance from others in fear she would have to leave them like she did her friends in Buffalo. And then, at the end of the first year she spent in LA, in the fifth grade, she managed to get the part of Frenchie, one of the Pink Ladies in GREASE, in a play her elementary school was putting on. It was a main role and she had won it over another girl who was after the same part. Finally, this young girl was thrilled about something that she could find comfort and happiness in. As soon as she got home, she proudly told her parents about the upcoming play, in which she would have a main part but then…………. Uh oh. Her mother told her, “That’s the week we’ll be going back to New York for your uncle’s wedding.”

Tears didn’t come. This play was the saving grace of the difficult year this young girl faced and now, even that was going to be taken away from her. It hurt. Let me tell you. It hurt like hell. But she was ten, so what could she do? She told the play director, as she blinked back tears, that she could not accept the role because she would be gone the week before it was to open. The play director said that was best and moved on to the next. It was at this time this young girl realized two things – life is not fair and if one wants happiness, one needs to find it for oneself.

Happiness is different for everyone. Perhaps money would make one person happy while simply being around the people they love makes another happy. There’s no right or wrong answer because happiness has to be defined by each individual. Recently, I was asked in a round about way if I was okay with certain aspects of my life. I didn’t even have to hesitate though before I answered, “I’m the happiest now than I’ve ever been.”

I could say… Yes, I don’t really have any money. Sure, I don’t have many assets. And yeah, I haven’t achieved the level of success in my job that I would like…

But you know what? I have a sense of identity. I know who I am, what I want and what I’m going after. If I live in a one-bedroom apartment with the man I’ve recently met who makes me swoon every time I see him and I get to make films for the rest of my life and be around my family, I’d die an extremely happy person.

I equate happiness with love, honesty, reality and passion.

So what makes you happy?

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