Happiness is defined, universally, as the state of being happy. It is synonymous with contentment, pleasure and satisfaction. To most people it is a passing emotion, indistinct in the long-term from anger, sadness and confusion: something entirely at the mercy of the world at large. This is not how I define happiness.
Happiness is a way of living, a religion. It is the active pursuit, on a regular basis, of things that make one smile, laugh, pause, feel warm and fuzzy or generally content. It is prioritising moments of simple pleasure above other commitments. It is making time purely for the gratification of oneself each and every day.
My mother always taught me to look for the little things that make you smile. This was her tried and true way of working against, and keeping at bay, the circling dogs. Her pleasures were small: exercise achieved, a meal well made). Sometimes they were so small they seemed insignificant, like a pretty flower or a bird playing in the sun. No matter what they were, they always made her smile and reminded her of the light that surround the darkness.
Recently, I have found life overwhelming. Christmas is expensive, work has been tiring, and the lives of several people I care deeply about have suffered some rather cumbersome complications. Each night I wind down by having a shower, a moment of pleasure in itself, then listening to music in the dark. I light a candle, play on my phone, read a book, or simply lie in bed absorbing the melodies. This simple nightly routine eases my stress and provides a feeling of warmth and contentment. There is safety and respite each day in the knowledge that my shower and bedroom are waiting for me at home no matter how tense my day may be. In those moments, the world melts away and I am and alone and happy. Equally as gratifying is the unadulterated joy exhibited by my dogs when presented with a new toy. So this year, I prioritised gifts for them over other things for me. Their pleasure will more than compensate for my sacrifices. And later, when I am sad, I will be able to remember their joy and it will make me smile. And I will remember that life is never as awful as it can feel.