There's this Fray song I like. The gist of it is the quest for happiness and that we always expect to find it in the big moments. But one of the last lines of the song says, "Happiness is a little more like knocking on your door--you just let it in."
Why are we always trying to chase happiness? We act like happiness is some mythical, elusive feeling that we should be striving toward, or heck! Working toward. "Make your own happiness," or something like that. Isn't that what Pinterest says? And for awhile, I really bought into this idea, even if subconsciously. I just kept trying to move all the pieces into place to create what I assumed would be "happy." Newsflash! That's really unfulfilling.
Happiness is instead wherever we are. Happiness isn't a goal; it's a choice. We choose to be happy by accepting and loving what we're thrown into the middle of--even if it's not what we were planning or what we thought we hoped for or even if we don't believe it will make us happy. No matter where you are, if you let it, happiness will come. This iscontentment. Contentment is the happiness that comes from simply being and appreciating.
For me, the major thing has been disconnecting contentment from complacency. Since I was so set on working toward happiness, assuming it was something I built, I falsely believed that to really settle into a cozy, happy feeling was lazy? That's crazy! But contentment isn't settling for less and it doesn't mean we don't hope and dream and work. It's realizing that life moves in seasons and that we can find joy in all of them. It's keeping perspective--and not allowing your happiness to be conditional.
Working for joy is an easy trap to fall into. I recognize I'm susceptible to it, and yet I still do it. But when I think about the most joyful moments of my life, they're always those times when I was content with myself and my life and my surroundings. They are the times I chose to appreciate and love all that I'd been given in that moment, without worry about whether or not it matched some vision or even happiness in the conventional sense. Those moments are so vivid, so profound because they are pure and unaffected by future or striving. I didn't have to do anything to get those moments, just answer a knock at the door.