Self Caring

The Happy Test

Last updated: Jul 14, 2010

so happy smiling cat

"When's the last time you were happy?" It's not a trick question. It's a simple, straightforward one. So why can it be so hard to answer? When somebody asked me during a dark patch awhile back "“ sick parent, sick marriage, sick of everything being hard, thankless, and scary "“ I actually drew a blank.

"Happy"¦happy...let's see"¦." I finally dredged up a memory of feeling happy on a vacation: sitting on a cliff, in the mountains, fresh air, no worries, yep, happy.

On a trip two years earlier.

I knew this was a pathetic answer. Two years of unhappiness? Happy should be easy! Happiness needn't only come on vacations. (Interestingly, I just read a study that said people are happier *planning * a vacation than they are actually taking one!) Happy should be a daily thing. That's not to say we should expect to walk around in a chronic state of bliss (let's be real!). But a constant state of blah?

Buying flowers can be happy. Trading a joke with a friend. Counting your blessings. Eating a good meal. Sitting on a back screen porch with a trashy book. Being around someone you love. Happy isn't really too much to ask or too hard to attain.

But not even one of those weeny-happy moments registered for me when I was asked.

Which is why I started crying right after I answered. I'd been too overloaded by crud to register pleasure, much less joy. On some level, I hadn't even felt entitled to be happy "“ because if I had, I'd never have let myself grow so distant from it.

I wanted happy! I was suddenly greedy for happy! Corny as it may sound, that question was a wake-up call. I began to look for little ways to reclaim everyday cheer. (Yes, chocolate was involved.) And I resolved to begin some big-picture work, too, on what it would take to right myself.

When's the last time you felt happy? What makes you happy? I ask myself that every day now. You?