I don’t know if it is the world seemingly coming to an end any minute, or if my medication dosages might need to be increased, but I’m not going to lie that I haven’t been feeling okay. Like we are talking turn of the millennium, guyliner levels of emo. Though, to be honest, I don’t know that I can completely blame it on the pandemic and shit storm that we call 2020.

Earlier this year, I was driving with a friend and was told that everyone deserves to be happy. My response was simply, “That’s nice, but being happy isn’t always meant for everyone.”

As I live alone and have been trapped in my above ground bunker for the last few months, I have had plenty of time to ponder life. I don’t consider myself an unhappy person, necessarily. Usually I describe myself as a realist. I am not overly optimistic because I know how quickly things can change, but I also don’t walk around like someone just peed on my dog all the time. In fact, I actually try to find a silver lining to things so that things aren’t as doom and gloom as they seem.

Most of the time, I would acknowledge that I am content. Maybe a little bored, but content. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge (unless I forgot to grocery shop), and toilet paper. I have money in the bank in case anything happens (not as much as I should, but that’s a story for another time).

So, what exactly is being happy?

The dictionary definition that Google gave me while lazily looking it up as I write this is “the feeling or showing of pleasure or contentment.” If you ask people whether content and happy synonyms, most people would probably say no. To be super scientific, I took to Instagram and 87% of people polled said that they are not the same. When you picture someone being happy, you picture them skipping, with a giant smile on their face, and bursting at the seams. Being content is a step down, you’re just okay. Possibly teetering on the edge. It’s like when you ask someone how they are doing, and they say “okay.” People are like, “just ok?”

I wouldn’t say that I necessarily strive to find happiness, but I do try not to be unhappy. Perpetually being upset or unhappy about things is miserable. Having anxiety can feel like that sometimes, worrying about things and spiraling down about the littlest thing.

You see, to me, happiness is one of those big emotions, like love. I recently told someone that I didn’t know if I knew what love felt like. The same goes for happy. I am not sure if I know what pure, unadulterated happiness looks like. Now don’t get me wrong, I have fun and I smile and everything. But people say that when you feel love you know instantly, like when a parent meets their child for the first time. I can’t say that I have ever been able to stop and pinpoint and be like, oh so this is love or happiness.

To me, being happy means that you have everything that you want in that moment and are able to bask in the sun, metaphorically. Going back to my original conversation with the car, life doesn’t always work that way. Some people appear to have all the luck while others have to scrape and claw for what they get. Maybe they are happy, I don’t know. But content, to me is simply being satisfied with what you have and continuing to work towards what you want, striving to get to the next level.

Maybe it’s the Virgo-ian aspect to me, I don’t really bask in things (and apparently one of my biggest character flaws is being unable to graciously accept a compliment) because I am always looking at it from a way of improvement. For example, with parties, I have actually had to train myself to just enjoy everyone who is there instead of fixating on the people who said they would come and didn’t show. It comes with the control freak part of me.

Is being content enough?

To some people, being content might be equal to settling, which is usually frowned upon. There are worse positions in life that you can be in than just being content. Maybe it’s too much to ask for to really experience happiness regularly. I haven’t shut the door, though, like I said I keep myself open to things. But I don’t live my life like it’s the holy grail. Remember what happened in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when they thought they found the holy grail? #justsayin.

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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