By Matt Hearnden

“What’s the thing you stand for?”

The question everybody at the conference was asked.

Silence.

I put my hand up. I knew what I stood for.

“Happiness,” I said. The host smiled.

I talked about how I hadn’t always been happy. I talked about how it wasn’t that I’d been unhappy… it was more that I’d rarely even think about happiness. Well, my own happiness.

I spoke some more but I can’t really remember what I said. I just liked that I had the microphone. But I remember everybody clapped and someone called me “the happiness man.”

Did you know that if you look into the etymology of the word “happiness,” you find the word “luck?”

You also find “favoured by fortune” and “being in advantageous circumstances.”

“Happiness” is also related to the word “happenstance,” which is another word for “coincidence.”

I don’t value happiness like I used to.

When I got the first subscriber to email list I was ecstatic. I was in the library doing some writing and I checked my emails and there it was.

I did a fist pump. Because I am the Michael Jordan of writing. Ok, maybe I just celebrate like him.

That felt like happiness.

I used to think “I’m happy when I’m me.” But I think being me is less than happiness. I think being me is more than happiness.

Being me feels less transient. Being me feels more profound.

I was happy when I got that first subscriber. I’m happy when I write a popular answer on Quora. I’m happy when says something kind about my writing. I’m happy when my parents are happy. I’m happy when someone smiles back.

Everything in that list is out of my control.

Because I can’t make people subscribe. I can’t make people upvote and comment and share my answers on Quora. I can’t make someone say something kind about my writing. I can’t force my parents to be happy. I can’t make someone smile back.

But.

I can practice writing for hours every day. I can write many answers on Quora. I can share my writing as much as possible. I can be happy around my parents. I can be the one who smiles rather than the one who doesn’t smile back.

Those are the things I can control.

I don’t like to value things that are out of my control because it seems pointless.

I love to value things that are in my control because then I can always get those things.

That’s why I value being me over everything.

Because it’s a choice.

And I always have the choice to be me.

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