How Happy Turned to HAPPI!
In 2004 I was in the throngs of counseling at a therapeutic boarding school. I really loved this season of my counseling career, because I got to work with some of the most amazing women, teens and their families. While each student and her family were all very different, in their heritage and socioeconomic status, and while each overarching goal for treatment was different, whether substance abuse, truancy, depression, or anger management; when they all got down to their real “why”, they all would land on, “I just want to be happy” or “I just want her to be happy.”
So when the new year of 2005 started, I decided since happy had 5 letters in it, and it really seemed to be what everyone was coming to counseling for, this year I would focus on happy. Because as I thought through all my years of training and previous years of practice, the focus had really been on not being angry, not being an alcoholic, not being depressed, and all these nots were really distracting me and many who practiced counseling from focusing on what clients really wanted, happy.
Now I would like to say that this search for happy was really a selfless hunt just for my clients, but as I’m honest with myself and you, I really wasn’t any different than my clients….I too wanted to be happy. I too had been focused on the nots of life; not drinking too much, not being selfish, not being too loud, not being this or that…Despite the word “happy” being in my personal mantra for a couple of years at that point, I had glazed over the word in many ways because to be honest, I really wasn’t certain what happy was.
I just knew that most of the time, I was not experiencing it. Which is why I ended up with the word in my mantra, because I desired I wanted to be happy. 2005 I was going to have a laser focus on happy. I would dig deep into what does this word really means. What does it really look like-would we as human beings- would I, even as a counselor-recognize it if we found it or had it? Now you have to remember that 2005 was really still before asking Google was around, so I was old schooling my search for happy.
While there were a few books in the library that spoke of happy, and I began learning that so many approached it as my training had…through the “not or don’t systems”….I was certain of one thing from these early days of studying happy; this seems to be the connection of all human kind, and not just my clients or myself. How did I come to this conclusion? I ran across a quote of Aristotle-you remember this dude, from around 350BC? “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Aristotle Now fast forward with me to 2016, when happy became HAPPI!
Through all the years of studying happy, counseling toward happy, (because it never stopped being client’s overarching goal for counseling), and all the books written through the years on happy or happiness, something still seemed to be a miss for me. While there had been great strides through the years that to be happy, it is a little more than avoiding the don’ts of life, I remained convinced that I was still missing some component of happy that would be the key to unlocking the treasure, this precious that we all find as our purpose; the “aim and end of human existence.”
Then it dawned on me…it is the “Y”! There seemed for so many, including myself, that “you” are what really makes me happy. Whether the “you” is a skinny body, a great job, a big house, an exciting vacation, a significant other or a hot car…the “y” of happy was still keeping us focused on the “you.” When it boils down to it, happy is absolutely up to “I”. I had decided long ago that happy was not just a feeling that people were looking for but more of a state like Aristotle spoke of.
Even the word “happiness” itself was giving testimony to the importance of the “I” instead of “y”. When it is absolutely “I” who is responsible for HAPPI. If HAPPI is going to be more than a fleeting or passing emotion like two cruise ships in the night, it is important to get really clear that it is up to “I”. It was so important to me to get really clear for myself, I rewrote my personal mantra with the word Happi. I would say Happi Birthday, or Happi New Years, I was training my brain to no longer think of happy, but HAPPI. This is even how we named our home, The HAPPI MANOR, the very birth place of My Happi Place.
Sure, there have been some great writings that implied happy was up to the individual, even Aristotle spoke that "Happiness depends on ourselves." In my choice to begin to see, write and spell HAPPI with an “I,” I was giving my brain the clear direction to no longer look for the “you” for my state of happiness, but for “I” because in the “I” is really where all my power rest. As I began to program my brain to know clearly that HAPPI is in the “I” and not the “y,” I found more than the oooy gooy feeling of delight and fun.
I found myself standing on the rock sold HAPPI; that weathers all that life has in store. As my good friend Aristotle did so many years ago, I enshrine HAPPI as the clear and defiant purpose in my life, and since I have yet to meet anyone else whose overarching goal is anything other than to be HAPPI, it is so comforting to know I’m not alone. Welcome to My Happi Place!
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