Finding Happy

“What makes you happy?”

It’s a question that I think most of us ignore or never even bother asking while we’re caught up in the day-to-day living of the life we have. Up until recently, I’ve sort of confused “happiness” with some form of contentment on the shallowest levels. If I look happy – I must be happy, right?

How 2011 appeared: I was at my thinnest. I was better off financially than I had been in a long time. I was living in paradise. And if you knew me, but didn’t really know me…I looked happy.

But 2011 will go down in my mind as the most miserable, loneliest year of my life.

The reality of 2011: I had just lost my mother, something even my new friends in Hawaii, where I’d only lived for five months before her death, knew, but I never allowed anyone to really see how utterly lost her passing had left me. With her death, and the subsequent loss of my relationship with my father as he quickly moved on to a new wife, a new life, I could feel myself retreating into a sort of shiny, glossy shell.  I smiled and laughed and traveled and laughed some more, while on the inside I felt more alone than I had in my entire life.

My best friend, five thousand odd miles away in Maryland could feel the change in me, tried to reach me and help me cope, but rather than let her do that, I pulled farthest away from her, the only anchor left to me besides God. And even my relationship with Him suffered.

I think back to that year, and I think of myself as some garish caricature of happiness, living life on the surface so that I never had to peer any deeper into my own depths. Because the truth was, I was terrified to do it. Facing my mother’s death meant grieving for so much more than that, grieving for things I still can’t even now put into words that make sense to anyone but me.

So I came home instead.

I was shocked to realize that home wasn’t where I had grown up in Northern Virginia. Home was, unexpectedly, a small, rural college town in Western Maine. But I’ve come to realize that we don’t choose our home. Our home chooses us. And here in this small town, I’d left a family of friends that loved and missed me and my family. As I settled back in, this time with the confidence of knowing I was settling into the first home I’d ever known, drew in the comfort the home and family that had chosen me gave me, I realized I was starting to feel, well, happy.

True happiness involves every area of health: mind, body, and spirit.

True happiness involves every area of health: mind, body, and spirit.

It was another year before I felt like I was really able to say I felt like me again. In fact, it’s really only been in the last few months I can honestly say I’ve felt truly content and happy again. I love my friends and the family they’ve become to me and mine. I love my kids and who they are right now. I love my home. My best friend and I are on an even keel again, and spiritually, I’ve never felt better, stronger (even as I always am working on improving my relationship with God).

The only element that continues to frustrate me is my size – I’m still a stubborn twenty pounds and one size above the body I had in Hawaii.

So in the end, what’s more important? The surface contentment of looking happy? Or the deeper contentment that comes with actually being happy. Well, I’ll take the latter.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I still run several times a week, and if I’m feeling particularly good, I add weights and stretching to that. I mostly watch what I eat (though I still struggle with my ever-present sugar addiction). Still, when I first started this quest for good health after my mom’s death, I focused only on being healthy – I didn’t even own a scale. And at some point, I lost sight of that focus.

So, I’m working on getting my balance back, getting back the idea of doing and eating what makes me feel good and being content with that, not worrying about numbers on a scale. But mostly, I’m focusing on the act of being happy. Focusing on writing again, and being happy I can write again (because you may have noticed I wasn’t for a little while there).

Because the road to Wellville isn’t about finding your magic body type at the end of the journey. It’s about finding everything: positive mental, spiritual, and physical health. Mind, body, spirit, a close friend reminded me once.

Yes, mind, body, spirit, I remind myself again.

And again, once more.

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Categories: Honesty is Healthy:

Author:Dory Diaz Photography

Dory is a professional wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and social media addict.

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2 Comments on “Finding Happy”

  1. July 21, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    VERY inspirational! ♥

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