Reflection points and realizing happiness

Someone once said that the main reason people are unhappy is because they try to be happy. Lately, I’ve found a couple others who seem to say the same thing:

“We are never happy; we can only remember that we were so once.” -Alexander Smith

“Ask yourself if you are happy, and you cease to be so.” -John Stuart Mill

How do you feel about that?

When my parents and my brothers and my sister took a road trip to Michigan a few years ago, I distinctly remember realizing happiness. I was riding in the back seat of the van we took, reading a book. I looked up from the book for a moment, paused, and thought, I’m extremely happy.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been happy. It might not have even been the first time I realized I was happy. But in my memory, it’s the first instance I remember consciously realizing happiness in the moment, rather than realizing it looking back.

Since that moment, I’ve tried to realize happiness more often. The New Year’s Eve after that trip to Michigan, as a bunch of us gathered around, sharing things we were thankful for, I remember sharing something about that moment in Michigan. And in that moment on New Year’s Eve, I remember thinking, I’m extremely happy.

Since moving to Korea, I’ve realized my own happiness way more often. But I’m not sure it’s because I’m actually happier here. It seems more likely that it’s because I have more opportunity to pause and reflect here.

Either way, I hope one of the biggest of experiences I remember about Korea is the set of reflection points, these moments when I paused and thought, I’m extremely happy.