By Dana Damiani

Happiness. What is it? Where do I find it? Is there a yellow brick road to follow? Does it smell like grandmie’s home-made apple pie? For me it does, but the little things make my day. Heck, I’m easily pleased with a freezer meal. Merriam-Webster, on the other hand, simply says that happiness is a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience ...And suddenly I understand why my third grade teacher said I couldn’t use pretty to define beautiful - they all mean the same thing! 

So before I go running to my dad to get the answers to life, let’s talk genuine experience. In terms of The Office, when I’m happy, Pam and Jim did it right with their imaginary hand cameras taking memory pictures for the moments they want to remember forever. Warm, silky, clean sheets with freshly shaved legs? First of all, a hot commodity, but talk about emerging yourself in happy girl hours. Not even to mention, there’s no feeling more satisfying than defying Siri’s ETA (yes, I went there).

To me, the “little things” are my trail of breadcrumbs. Parents trust me with their children to babysit and these kids come up to me with a bouquet of weeds from underneath their rusty swing set and all I can think is “awe, my angels”. All they get to worry about is their pure intentions. Children are admirable because they don’t need to worry about finding social, financial, cultural, personal success. Instead, they just focus on giving their long-lost relatives the obligatory hugs, learning how to master teamwork, and maybe even being the chef to their own home-made PB&Js. But they learn through the trial and error process.

It’s so easy for me to consider the destination as my own definition of happiness. I love the breath-taking views from the top of a mountain and finally hanging up that picture that’s been looking at me half-painted for months. But it sucks walking up the equivalent of 23 flights of stairs, and realizing it’s 2am and the painting can wait. That’s no fun! It should be all about the cotton candy cloud photoshoot for Instagram to adore later, but quite literally at the end of the day, all that’s left is darkness. The cycle is even endless when you get that feeling after finally putting that laundry away that’s been looking at you all week, but there’s always going to be more laundromat trips to come. So the reality of my happiness is the journey.

I live to learn. I went around elementary school around Thanksgiving time every year telling everyone I was thankful for school because “otherwise we’d all be stupid”. Well, my eight-year old self was onto something. Sure, I love depositing my paycheck, but I don’t see it as work; that’s my social life. My coworkers? Those are my friends - As are my teammates whether we leave the game with a win or a big, fat L across our foreheads. The loss teaches us what we’ll do better next time. The satisfaction of a successful destination means something to me, but the process of getting there is everything. It just so happens that satisfaction and pure joy go hand in hand. 

Children naturally go through the process and it’s so exciting. I’m jealous! 21 years later, I sometimes need to be reminded that all the efforts made to reach my goals make me just as happy. Yes, I may make a mean PB&J, but every one of those reminder’s my mom gave me to go kiss Aunt Josie goodbye have made being close to people an absolute joy. Anyone that knows me now, knows that I’m a hugger, cuddler, invader of personal space-er. I do it because it makes me happy, and I want to pass my tightly squeezed bundles of joy on to others. No, I don’t necessarily care how you’re doing after my “How are you?” texts (no offense), but I care that you’re happy because it makes me happy.

Happiness may be the little things to some, and the satisfaction for others, but recognizing how far I’ve come from learning to hug everyone when I can? There’s nothing like it. Happiness to me is the fun in life, the not worrying, reaching a goal and enjoying every minute of the process. I (will) love being rich, but happiness is getting hugs from my coworkers when I walk in the door, the little efforts to make my day from others, and learning a faster route than Siri could ever imagine. The paycheck destination is just a perk! The excitement of people walking towards me with their arms out wide gives me butterflies. I’m thankful for the process and I’m happy with any butchered PB&J, as long as it’s made with love. It makes me happy:-)

How to Be Happy: 63 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier

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