Thank Goodness

I really like the musical Wicked.  In fact, I like musicals in general.  But in particular, I really relate well to Elphaba in Wicked.

The song "Thank Goodness" happens after Elphaba becomes a public enemy and Glinda becomes a hero.  She is to marry Fiyero and save all of Oz from Elphaba and everything good and wonderful.  So they have a celebration.  One of the repeated lines in the song is "happy is what happens when all your dreams come true."  Now, I could be wrong but it seems to me that this song is to be taken as a criticism of the Disney-esque mindset we are often told to have by various entertainment media.  Either way, I wanted to comment on that line of the song because it's completely false.

We often have this misconception that we won't be happy until we have our dreams come true.  If I just get my dream house or my dream car, then I'll be happy.  If I get my dream job, then I'll be happy.  If I get that one new video game console, then I'll be happy.  I'll be happy if I can just make $5/hr more than I'm currently making.  If I just had the perfect man, then I'll be happy.  This is all a lie.  There is little truth in this.

Happiness isn't something that happens to you.  It isn't something that you wait around for.  It isn't something that can only be achieved when life is perfect.  Aside from cases of clinical depression, where the brain simply doesn't produce the right chemicals, happiness is a choice.  You can enjoy your life or you can hate it.  I was a pizza delivery boy for a year and I loved it.  It's not the dream job by any means (aside from getting free pizza).  But I had fun.  Karen and I lived off of an income of about $800/month for half a year.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't nearly as luxurious as most people would like, but we did it, and we were happy together.  It was a good time in my life.  I've been married to a woman, single, and married (practically, not legally) to a man.  I've enjoyed all of that time.  I've been happy with any of those three statuses.

Happiness doesn't come from external sources.  It comes from within.  Literally.  I mean, really, happiness comes from endorphins that your brain releases.  It really does.  That's science.  And whether those chemicals are released (again, unless you're clinically depressed) is your own choice.  You can be rich and be unhappy.  You can be poor and be happy.  You do not need material things in order to be happy.  You don't need to perfect spouse or the perfect house.  You don't need the perfect job or the perfect car.  Happy is what happens when you choose to let it happen.  Happy is what happens when you make it happen.  Happy is what happens when you smile, when you laugh, when you let things roll off your back.  Happy is what happens when you love other people and show kindness to them.  Happy is what happens when you make others happy.  Don't just pursue happiness.  Capture it.  Live it.