I’m stealing this line from Laura McKowen’s Instagram post. Flat out thievery. It happens — the joy, not the thievery — from time to time. Just the act of being, a sudden awareness of how good this is — this life that I’ve found on the other side of fear — the fullness of my life without booze can be surprising.
These moments of recognition come at ordinary times – walking down the street, after the rain has started or stopped, midway through an ice cream cone. These little moments of sheer joy are a fleeting treat and when I catch myself in one I nearly always smile.
For years, I strived to find happiness and failed. I looked everywhere I was told to look. Happiness will come, they said – in your job, or your wife, or your family, the new car, nice clothes, the latest gadget, and on and on and on. Always external. Always in some thing or some other. Never within.
And when I had all the things that were supposed to bring me happiness, I found myself profoundly unhappy. And I self-medicated, which only led to the darkest corner of hell I could find.
I’ve learned that when I’m unhappy, it’s usually because I’m not happy with myself. It’s usually because I’ve done something or failed to do something. Sometimes that sense of being ill at ease comes because I’ve judged myself so harshly, or have compared myself to some unrealistic ideal. Very rarely am I really unhappy with someone else – though there are times, because let’s face it, sometimes you just run into a world class asshole in life.
I’ve found that when I am happy with myself, when I accept myself for who I am, warts and all, that these moments of unexpected joy surface. Joy, by accident.