I've actually been thinking about my answer to what makes me happy for a quite a while. In fact, I keep the question in an easily accessible part of my brain so that I can re-answer it regularly. Unlike Megan, I am no longer in my 20s, or even my 30s for that matter. In fact, just this week I hit my mid-40s, 45 to be exact. While age doesn't guarantee wisdom, it certainly brings experience.
I remember one particular day so vividly that I can still recall standing on one of the bike bridges in the park worrying about some bill that I had to pay and feeling over-whelmed by it. All of a sudden, I realized that things always work out. And they do. I've never been homeless, I've never missed more than one meal, and I've never been arrested. Some might call it faith in God, whatever, I just realized while standing on that bridge that things will be okay.
I think that's one of the first ingredients to being happy - not borrowing trouble and not worrying about what might be. To this day I remind myself to be present in the here and now. And isn't it funny that that is exactly how our horses live - in the present?
My husband and I went though a pretty rough patch in my thirties, and I think that's when I learned that happiness doesn't come from milestones, pay raises, or other people. It has to come entirely from within. I am responsible for my own happiness, and only I know if I am truly happy.
My husband and I made some huge life changes, and that's why the question, What makes me happy? is always in the front of my mind. I keep it there so that I remember to ask myself that question, and I answer it honestly. If I find that I am unhappy, I figure out what is wrong, and I change something.
I find that I don't let things get to me like I used to. I don't have pity parties, I don't let myself wallow in fear and anxiety about money, relationships, or the horses' health and soundness, and I deliberately surround myself with people and things that I enjoy.
So to answer the ever-present question of what makes me happy?, I think about what brings a smile to my face and makes me feel good. Aside from spending time with my husband, horse things are what make me happiest.
Like most horse people, simply being with the horses warms my heart and makes me smile. But since I am very goal oriented and driven to succeed, simply being with them isn't really enough, so I take lessons, clinic, and show. I do strive to move through the dressage levels, earn certain awards, and get certain scores, but I never pin my happiness on achieving any of those things.
Instead, I make sure that I am enjoying the process. I get great satisfaction out of a job well done. I love to check off boxes and cross things off the list. For me, happiness comes from the learning process. Bettering myself and bringing out the best in my horses makes me very happy. Sure, getting to Second Level or earning my bronze would make me happy, but it's not the end goal.
I derive happiness through the process of getting wherever I am going. And as cliché as it sounds, it really is the journey and not the destination that brings me joy.
So ... how do you answer the question: what makes you happy?