There are so many versions of happiness.
Happiness can be a simple smile, a joyful laugh, a touch from a oved one.
Happiness can be a vacation or a beach or a mountain or a human-crafted structure you've always wanted to see.
For me, happiness has changed instrumentally over the last 5 years or so. It has changed in a uniquely positive, simple way.
Early in life, happiness was carefree up until around middle school. Happiness was simple. If I was outside, playing sports, I was happy. That was all that really mattered to me. As long as I was moving and sweating, that's all I cared about, and I was happy.
After high school, I attended many music festivals and the friendships and experiences there allowed for a great deal of happiness in an otherwise dark time in my life. For 2-3 days, we would come together to camp, listen to music, party, and love without limits. Whatever occurred outside of those weekends, in our "real lives," simply didn't matter. It was beautiful, and we all shared a great deal of happiness together.
In my late 20's and early 30's, my happiness mostly came in the form of an escape... an escape to a beach or a mountain, or a serene desert town. It was the thrill of the vacation, the food, the people, the drinks, the experience that left me yearning for more of that happiness. To stick my toes in the warm, Caribbean water with a drink in my hand... or play a round of golf on the bright green landscape with cascading red rock or ocean in the background... to hike up the side of the mountain that never wears and always weathers the storm... these types of experiences brought me a great deal of happiness.
But the problem was that the vacation or the music festival weekend would eventually end. At some point, I would have to stop playing sports and go back inside. And the happiness often stayed with the activities, or on the cruise or far-off city I'd visited. I would come back to "real life" and the happiness would come to an end.
In the present day, my version of happiness is much different. It seems to be everlasting. I live each day with joy and peace, and while negativity sometimes visits, it now is the fleeing thing in life. In general, my life creates happiness. My relationship allows for a great deal of happiness. Running creates a lot of happiness. My job allows for a more joyful experience than any other job I've ever had. Writing and coffee, Truman and the dogs, walking or hiking, volunteering at races, meditating and yoga and breathing exercises, and LIVING brings a great deal of happiness and joy into my life.
Every day. Every moment. I allow myself the opportunity to experience happiness in a way that I never did before - a way that I never even knew was possible. Happiness is here now. If we get too caught up in the happiness that "was," or the happiness that "will be," we miss the present moment of happiness that "is." And we must not miss these moments because they are the only thing guaranteed in life.
I can still visit happiness on a vacation, or in sports, or in music, or in any activity for that matter. But these experiences are now supplemental. They are no longer a necessity for me to experience happiness. I take happiness with me and return with it once again. And I am grateful to live happily, with joy and peace, with purity and clarity.
I am happy.