By Avalon Hendricks

I have a long history of chasing after happiness the same way a cat chases for its tail – consciously, knowing it is there, but subsequently, being full aware that sometimes the hardest things to attain are right in front of us. At our fingertips, we have exactly what we spend our whole lives desperately yearning to take a hold of. However, I think the chase of acquiring possession, longing for entitlement, or the brief and settle moments where we finally catch what we have been running in circles for, are all means of being human. Yet, we run after happiness as if we are not worthy nor deserving enough for it to be in our reach. But, we are. We deserve happiness just as much as we deserve goodness. We deserve internal peace, just as much as we deserve unconditional love. We deserve these things so much, sometimes we need to be reminded how close they truly are within our reach.

There was a time in my life where I felt undefeated when it came to this longing for this universal want for happiness. I saw this chase as nothing more than the walk back down from an uphill journey. As I would walk back down after finding happiness, it was nothing more than counting my footsteps and calculating just how far I will have to go until I am happy again. It was this temporary sensation that would linger on the outskirts of my heart and in the blood vessels of my body. But, I knew too well: all temporary things will be temporary unless we seek for permanence.

I was on a quest for more. I did not want to settle for temporary happiness – I wanted to settle for permanence. I deserved that. We deserve that.

When I finally had given up on this quest for happiness, I felt as if I had given up on a larger part of myself. I felt defeated. I felt as if I moving and being still at the same time. I felt the same way I feel when I dig my the soles of my feet into the sand on the shore of the ocean: subsequently, standing still but feeling my body move into the waves of the ocean.

Truthfully, I felt weak. I felt as if I was just outran by happiness. As I sat with this feeling of uncertainty, tossed and turned with it in the darkest hours of the night – I realized that I had finally made the boldest decision in the most vulnerable of times: letting go of seeing happiness as a destination on a map. Happiness is not point X on a map that needs to walked to, driven to, or flown miles to. Happiness is in the comfort of our own homes, in the moments that will forever sit still in our hearts, and in the cold winter air that we mindlessly inhale and exhale out.

Happiness is the smiles we exchange on the Subway on our way to work–smiling at the strangers that have given up on the same quest for finding happiness, too. For myself, I found internal happiness in the five-year-old’s that would come running into the school doors, hugging me at classroom door. Happiness was found in watering my bouquet of hand-picked flowers that sit on my mantle. Happiness was sharing stories of grief and loss. It was the shared tears in the moments of mourning and grieving. It was my fingertips touching the keys of a piano. Happiness was found in the silent moments of sipping on a cup of coffee outside my bedroom window as I would let the sun hit my face. Happiness was found within reach. It was always there. But, I looked too hard for it. I looked for it in the most unrealistic and unreasonable of places.

And, as I finally decided it was time to get my hands dirty and get to the core of this personal journey of mine that was nothing more than a search for internal happiness, I realized that I would give up on chasing this notion that happiness needs to be chased. Because, in all reality, happiness sits right in front of us. It’s a matter of choosing to see the small things that are more than often overlooked. Happiness contains of the moments that stop time, that pulls us back from reality. Happiness lies in between the lines of simplicity and accessibility. It is within reach. It no longer calls for running barefoot over fire after something that is too fast for us to catch – we have to remember, we are faster and greater and bigger than the chase.

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