Being happy isn’t elusive…. and content is as content does

By Liso Donaldson    09-Nov-2012 09:52 UTC+02:00 2

I recently shared a very confused side of myself, one that I reluctantly acknowledged to my best friend. I am now going to share it with you. Some of you will definitely judge me, but after confiding the aforesaid confusedness with a person whom I trust and admire, I’m pretty sure many of you will relate to my woes.

The guy I’m dating is great, lovely in fact. Funny, kind, clever, charming, fantastic smile – all the things a great boyfriend should be. So why did I take so long to introduce him to everyone at work? Tell my friends about him?Or put his picture in my office (which I still haven’t done btw). The answer is simple: He doesn’t MAKE me happy.

“If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son… He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under his radiator.” – W. Beran Wolfe.

I have yet to meet the person, however, who actively knows where that box of happiness is stored and how to take enough of that drug to keep him or her on a high for an extended period of time.

I have realized, however, that it’s actually not up to him to make me happy. I have to be my own happiness if I ever wish to reside in that ever elusive but still yearned for concept of ‘being happy’. I’ve learnt that the best gift I can give to myself and/or relationship is to accept my life as it is, accept my man as he is – bad shoes and all, and be my own happiness. When you are your own happiness you never need to be unhappy again.

I challenge you to tell yourself out loud what your definition of happiness is? I’m sure you have a list of things that you believe will make you happy, but the invariable answer above all will be ‘to be happy’ with a side order of over-flowing bank accounts, frequent vacations to exotic islands and pairs upon pairs of Jimmy Choos of course. Or perhaps, like mine your list contains ‘if onlys’ : if only my man would…… I would be happy, if only I won the lotto, if only I were just 5 kg’s thinner etc.

When you ask yourself what makes you happy I can guarantee you will find it easier to give a list of things that make you unhappy. Why is this? Is it because we don’t actively decide to take every experience and put a positive spin on it. There are no good or bad experiences, there are just experiences plain and simple – it is your attitude towards them that determines them good or bad.

We experience a range of emotions every day dealing with work, studies, partners, petrol prices but have we actively gone out to BE happy? More often than not being happy is at the bottom of a ‘2012 To Do’ list that’s gathering dust on an already full desk.

For me feeling happy is reserved for ‘After’. After I’ve gotten over something that hasn’t gone my way, after I’ve fought my point until said opponent surrenders in defeat, after I’ve felt sad or for after I’ve vented endlessly to previously mentioned best friend. We react to these emotions first and foremost in this way mainly because we feel the need to keep the equilibrium: You have vented and feel so much better but can you really say NOW I’m happy as we had planned to do after the venting of course.

How does one just go out and be happy though? it seems to me that so often we are happy when we are in the midst of something and we are amazed to find ourselves smiling and laughing just by the by. No riches, no holidays and definitely no Jimmy Choos, but happy none the less.

Everybody’s content box is different, for some it’s at Edgars- without the kids, or husband, for others it’s at your best girl friend’s house with an open bottle of Roséreliving memories and for others it’s spending time in the garden. When being happy seems to elude you at times I suggest immersing yourself in the things, thoughts and/or places that make you feel the most content. Happiness is prone to creep upon you in the most unexpected manner.

As long as you need something or someone else to make you happy you will spend most of your time miserable. That new car won’t make you happy, that mansion in Camps Bay won’t make you happy, that other man (the cute one who treats you so much better) certainly won’t make you happy.

Things wear off quickly and the general rule of thumb seems to be that if it lifts you up it will drop you down further and harder later on. Milk goes sour, bread goes stale and just like the Nokia 3310 things get old. We need to learn to find happiness within.

“Happiness is the one thing I’m never guaranteed. How can you expect me to guarantee yours?”- Chris Brown.

This December let’s all decide to shake off the dusty happiness box, put on our best Edgars heels, forgive our men for not being Christian Grey and stuff our hearts and minds with the good taste of positivity!


  1. Lindi says:

    I needed to hear this.

  2. Charlie says:

    I love this. Everyone can close the tab having gained something from you, Liso. You’re quite witty. I love that your message does not get lost in the humour but lets one see things through a brighter, happpier lens. Thank you for an honest, refreshing piece.

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