The following question, “If I am happy, and no one sees it…does it count?” might sound like an odd, irrelevant, annoying, perhaps even a dumb question…but it’s not any of that- at all. This question is at the heart of what separates those that can live alone, and those who cannot.
Assuming you were born somewhere in the last 800 years, you are a part of a multi-generation that has spawned from one century to the next feeding each subsequent generation the idea that “real” love and “real” happiness can only be experienced under the umbrella of a family, partner, wife, or husband. There is no denying that experiencing happiness with someone you love is nothing short of brilliant, but to say that is the only type of love or happiness is as true as saying there is only one type of pie.
The way most of us get introduced to the concept of love is via someone else. For a lot of people that someone else is their families, father, mother, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, or cousins. This first experience of love has the trademark of being very interactive. You receive love, you give back love, they say something nice, you smile, you do something nice, they say “Thank you sweetie!” and pat you on the head…action, reaction…cause and effect. It is very easy to understand given this interaction gives you a confirmation of your actions and to your state.
The fork on the road – learning other types of love
Now here’s the fork in the road… For many of us, this is it when it comes to learning the different types of love there are in this universe. Not because we are refusing to learn any other forms, but mainly because we never knew there were other forms of love to learn. To be fair, there is no conspiracy to keep you from learning other types of love, but the bottom line is, hardly anyone out there is pushing this idea because there is not as much to gain as with “interactive love”. It’s not crazy to think that someone might not find the motivation to teach you to love yourself, if that might result in you loving them less. From the media and business end of it, I think we can all agree it’s a lot easier to attach commercial interests to any process that interacts between 2 or many people, than to a process that is purely confined to one individual. So again, there is no evil plot keeping you from learning to love yourself, it’s just not a “worthwhile” endeavor for most. So if you are going to learn to love yourself, you will most likely have to do it on your own. Which is pretty fair, don’t you think?
Rewiring head – Step 1: Find out what step 1 is
When it comes to loving yourself, recognizing your own internal and unattached happiness as totally and utterly legitimate is an essential step. Some people have this internal mechanism that fires up when they reach that fork in the road. They have the ability to internalize this question and come out with a completely new personality. A personality that has created a space inside them that will house this newfound happiness and all that comes with it. Damn!!!! I wish I could be that person! But sadly, I am not. So I had to take a slightly longer path to get to that point. I had to go through a bit of internal rewiring to achieve this.
Rewiring head – Step 2: Revisiting my understanding of happiness
First of all, my understanding and definition of happiness was all wrong. I noticed that I had -through the years- polluted what happiness meant to me. I know there was a point in my life where happiness was exactly and “only” that: happiness. It was my own. I didn’t feel it because it obtained someone’s approval, received support, funding, or was awarded any of social media’s Pavlovian rewards. I was happy, period. As I grew up I was herded into society (which I would completely agree is a necessary step in the life-cycle of any human being) and the focus was on “playing well with others”. And from that point on, no one ever stimulated the process of developing my understanding for this “unattached happiness”.
For the next decades, 100% of the focus of every single person that ever taught me anything, be it in school, friendship, love, work…it was all directed towards my integration to the program, to my group of friends, to society, to my girlfriend, to my career. Which I must admit, gave me the wonderful life I have now, so I am not going to trash the system that provided the ecosystem in which I thrived. BUT, I do recognize the incompleteness of an approach that abandons the concept of empowering one’s capacity of becoming emotionally self-sufficient.
Luckily, not all is lost.
I know I once had it, and I know it was already inside of me from the moment I took my first breath on this Earth. The question is…how can I get it back? How can I get back to being happy, and I mean truly totally happy…without the need of someone’s approval?
Rewiring head – Step 3: Finding the origin of “my own” happiness
If I go back to the first time I recall being happy, as in over the moon happy, it happened during my 5th Christmas. I wrote a letter to Santa Claus, which to this day I have no idea how it got to the North Pole on time given we mailed it with my Dad the morning before. I recall how frustrated I was with the fact that I didn’t know enough adjectives to describe exactly what I wanted, because I wanted a Godzilla, but not just any Godzilla, I wanted a huge one! (that would mean one my size) I anguished about it all night, knowing that I had messed up my chance…and that I would have to wait another 20% of my life to get another chance of getting the Godzilla I really wanted.
Come Christmas morning, and the moment I woke up I rushed downstairs, and OH MY GOD!!!! I could see that fantastic gorgeous humongous beast wrapped in shiny red, green, and gold sparkling paper! I knew perfectly well that I had to wait for everyone else to wake up and open the presents together…but when I saw it standing there, I couldn’t help myself and I just went into auto-pilot. I tore into it with my claws as I whipped my long tail across the living room, my short but powerful arms shifted back and forth in a frenzy, leaving a trail of shredded cardboard and mangled wrapping paper behind. And then…there it was, a glorious gigantic 3 foot tall Godzilla staring right at me. It was the best day. It was 100% pure and genuine happiness. I felt fulfilled, complete. I felt like the luckiest boy in the world. And there was no one around to see it.
So what happened? Why did this more evolved, adult, mature version of myself require approval of my own happiness? When did my happiness start depending on a “Like” button to be validated? To be considered real? When did I unlearn to accept my own happiness as true happiness? Why would I do that?
So I went to the only place with the answers, my five year old self.
Rewiring head – Step 4: Now that I know where it is…how do I get it back?
Me: Hello there, that’s a mighty looking dinosaur you got there.
LittleMe: Yes. It’s a Godzilla. And it can also spit fire and stomp trees and eat cars and it can crush any spider. And also a lion.
Me: Are you sure it can crush any spider?
LittleMe: Yes because it can crush helicopters.
Me: That makes sense.
LittleMe: Do you have a dinosaur?
Me: I did.
LittleMe: Where is it?
Me: He is sleeping.
LittleMe: Mine doesn’t sleep. Why does your dinosaur sleep?
Me: Because I stopped playing with it.
LittleMe: Why did you stop playing with it?
Me: Because my interests started heading in another direction.
LittleMe: What direction?
Me: I started liking girls, work, career, life…
LittleMe: What? You stopped playing with your dinosaur to play with girls?
Me: Yes. Among other things, but yes, that was a big part of it.
LittleMe: Is it more fun?
LittleMe: So sometimes it’s not more fun?
Me: That is correct.
LittleMe: When it is not more fun….is it the same fun as OK fun?….or is it less fun than OK fun?
Me: It is not fun at all when it is not fun.
LittleMe: Are you sad when it is not fun at all?
Me: Very much.
LittleMe: Do you play with your dinosaur when you are sad?
Me: Because I don’t know where it is now.
LittleMe: You lost your dinosaur?
LittleMe: You can play with my Godzilla. Maybe. Like not always, but sometimes.
Me: You know what?
Me: Thank you. I will take you up on that.
It was so easy for me to take it from there and march my way up to the more “adult” version of myself and slowly assimilate it back into my persona. I could connect with that part of my life so perfectly well and remember it so clearly. I recall every single detail around me at the time because it is so easy to remember when you only focus on what’s important. And that’s what I had lost. The ability to shut down everything around me and just focus on Godzilla. Because Godzilla is the only thing that mattered at that particular moment in time. And Godzilla made me happy. And in this happiness, I found love. And when you feel it, you know it counts 100% whether someone else is looking, or not.
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