Jen asked me this question a few nights ago, and I think , expected a simple answer, but I think this question actually needs a hell of a lot more thought than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
First of all, I need to decide actually what ‘happy’ is. Is it a state of mind, an emotion or a feeling? Unless I can work this out I can’t decide whether I have felt it or not.
happy [ˈhæpɪ]adj -pier, -piest
In my mind, the state of being ‘happy’ is the feeling you get when you feel carefree, and optimistic about things. There isn’t a dark cloud covering you, dragging you down. You don’t feel anxious, hurt, or upset. You aren’t worried about anything, or anyone. I have to be careful here, not to confuse happy with mania. So – going on that description, I believe that yes, there have been times I have been happy;
- Riding my horse, with no pressure of competition, on my own (so no other person to be thinking about or analysising, worrying about what I am saying or what they are thinking) or anxiety about life events going on at the time
- Training my dog and he works with me (again, no other people there so not worrying about their opinion of me, my dog, my handling, what I’m doing wrong, how I come across)
- Driving my car, the sun is shining, and good music is playing*
*i think music is actually key – good music can transport me to a place where I feel carefree, even in the worst, darkest places – that is, until the song ends
- Life events which have been positive – passing my degree and diploma – but then those are fleeting moments of euphoria rather than prolonged happiness (actually, most of the above I have mentioned are fleeting moments of happiness from triggers)
So, have I had any prolonged periods of happiness? Not that I can remember, no. I can remember periods of mania (on top of the world, untouchable, erratic, fast) but I don’t think I can count those as happiness, they are more a mental state than an emotion. I remember feeling happy in the first few weeks of a new relationship – Jean, Arran – so I guess I could use that – I don’t remember anxiety at that time but I’m sure there was;
My first few weeks at university I felt happy – but I obviously wasn’t because I was cutting daily. When I first had Hogan, my dog, I was happy. Exhausted and depressed, but happy to have this beautiful little puppy in my life, until the anxiety of anything happening to him and losing him began.
So, in response to Jens question – Yes – I have had fleeting moments of happiness, according to my definition of happiness, but no – I have not had a prolonged period in my life where I have felt happy.