When was the last time someone asked you if you were happy?
For me, it was last December. I honestly wasn't sure how to answer.
There are times I'm happy and times I'm not. There are days I'm satisfied with the energy I put forth and there are days I wish I could redo or erase altogether.
I'm happy when I'm laughing, when I'm around genuine people, amongst nature and when I'm with my dogs. I'm happy when I'm proud of myself, but I try to detach accomplishment from contentment to avoid depending on material success for inner peace.
At that moment, when I was asked those three words, I was not happy. But I didn't realize the extent until I said those words aloud to another.
While it's a loaded one to ask and be asked, it may be the most important question we could possibly use to inspire human connection (and personal reflection). Our lives are so filtered and hidden behind this false image of perfection that it's often impossible to really know what's going on behind closed doors.
When I was a teenager, I remember posting these dramatically depressing away messages on my AOL Instant Messenger or sharing vaguely dark blog posts on my Xanga to hint to my friends that I wasn't ok and that I needed someone to reach out. We all used to do it. And because we all prioritized each other so much (often to a fault), it usually worked.
Though I wish I'd just had the guts to ask for help back then, my subtle cry was more than what I see and do now as an adult. Now, I'll act like everything's OK and try to convince myself I can handle it all on my own. I hate that. But I'm getting better.
My coworker and I were sitting at our desks last week talking about a beloved girlfriend who moved away to get married.
I said I wondered if she was happy, which sounds a little sad, but it's something I think about often. Are my friends happy? My parents? That guy with the Saint Bernard down the street? How about the janitor in my building? Are you happy?
I haven't asked my friend the question yet, but I plan to. And I want to make it a point to ask my loved ones more often. Maybe even a stranger or two.