Tonight, I read an article for my nursing continuing education about happiness. I asked myself the same questions they did in the article. What causes happiness? How do you experience it? Who has the most happiness? Midway through, the researchers offer a formula by for happiness...
Really? There is an exact science to what causes us to have pleasure and meaning in life? What is making me happy? Genes? How many facebook friends I have? My job? My faith?
I ponder these questions over as I sit here a 28-year old single woman, somewhat healthy, still recovering from surgery, and away from what I call my home away from home. Honestly, two weeks ago, if you asked me if I was happy, I would say "No". I was leaving the Africa Mercy on medical leave, not enough time to say goodbye to friends or to Sierra Leone for now, and had to travel 36 hours to Texas... Really, not the plans I had made. The weekend proceeding was good- I love my parents, my church family, driving to Sonic and Target, but I was not happy all the time. I had to deal with insurance, anxieties about surgery, and most of all I was homesick for Africa. Last Friday, I celebrated my birthday with my parents and close friends- I was happy to be around people I loved and eat Mexican food. Monday came and through the wonders of the internet (and of course the Holy Spirit), I had people praying all over the world as I walked into the OR as the patient. I felt loved with all the phone calls, messages, flowers, and cards this week. At one point, my happiness probably was based on how much pain medication I had onboard. It was difficult to balance the pain relief when the the medication requires you to eat, but the side effects include nausea. I hope I was a good patient for all my medical friends that came over to take care of me. I proudly showed off my battle wounds (they feel like it) and the pictures that my surgeon printed off of amazing anatomy. I am thankful for my "home nurses"- they made me walk, drink, deep breathe, and try to eat to get me better. We watched movies, talked, and even if it hurt, laughed... maybe my happiness returned? Then I found myself missing my life in Africa- I loved hearing from friends overseas, seeing people enjoying the beach on the weekend, but also feeling a lack of purpose here, and missing my job onboard the ship.
In the end, we waste energy on the pursuit of happiness. In this moment, I can say "I'm suppose to be there" and that would convey unhappiness, but at the same time, I can say, "I'm happy because I am healthy." We make happiness fleeting, when it can be constant if you choose. I think it comes down to finding happiness is in not your genetic code, or your circumstances, but more making the decision to be happy no matter what life brings you.
"Oh, happiness, there's grace enough for us, and the whole human race..." DCB