During my early-morning news reading, I came across a story on CNN.com featuring an Oprah re-run about happiness (which will air today).
"Are you happy --really?" the headline reads.
It certainly got me thinking.
A guest on the show, psychologist Dr. Robert Holden has dedicated his life to studying happiness. He is the founder of the Happiness Project in England and also is the author of 10 best-selling books, including "Happiness Now!"
Dr. Holden said those looking for happiness often don't realize they already have it, the article states. He recalled a conversation that he had with a spiritual teacher some time ago.
"'You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake,'" said the teacher, Holden recalled. “'It's like, you don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you, and then you go running.'"
That made me think a little bit more. So much so that my cynicism broke just enough to let it make some sense.
We often find ourselves in absorbing situations – whether short-term or whether they threaten to swallow us whole, but some of us seem to lose sight of the fact that, though the situation may be difficult, it hasn’t entirely altered our complete "inner spirit."
When I used to think about the more than 1,000 miles that separate me from my family, I believed that I was anything, but happy. But now, I’m coming to realize that when 4:30 p.m. rolls around each day, I get the first of two or three phone calls from my older sister. A few hours later, I call my mom to ask her about her day or she calls me to ask me about mine.
Rather than sadness, those times are undoubtedly when I smile the most and laugh the hardest. Yes, it’s also when I miss my family the most, but at the same time, I realize I’m actually happy – I just miss them.
I’ve frequently confused missing my family with unhappiness. Yes, it still sounds a little weird to me, but it does make sense – for me anyway.
From now on, I’m going to try to do a better job of differentiating between the two.
If you’re unsure of your happiness, try this Happiness Quiz on Oprah.com and don't forget to share your thoughts here.