“Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object”
Spending time with Psychiatrists and Speech and Language Therapists with our son, dealing with understanding his emotions and terrors, often he gets asked ‘what makes you happy’ ? Our son can never answer this and in truth, it’s difficult for me to answer it for him. One day he can appear happy and thrilled undertaking some activity, or doing nothing at all and the next, he appears unhappy doing exactly the same thing.
I’ve learned to turn thing son their head and look at it completely differently and when I found this quote many years ago ‘Happiness is a how ….’ I began to realise that it was not so much our son, listening to music, or being with his pet cat or dog, but more about how he enabled the music to play, the selecting a disc, setting the volumes and tones or what game to play with his dog, choosing a ball to play catch with and then, his dog chasing after it and bringing it back, or his selected piece of music actually playing and his listening to the beat, repeating the process to catch every beat played.
This, I learned is happiness, not just the result, but the journey taking you to it.
When our son is now asked ‘what makes you happy?’ I get them to reword their question to ‘what activity do you enjoy doing to listen to music?’ to which he answers, in considerable detail and with a passion how he selects a disc, examines the cover (he can’t read, so it is the design and colours) chooses the volume, the level of bass and treble and then the track number or how he decides which coloured ball his dog will play with, where he will take his chair to play catch. Again with such detail and passion as he talks.
I have realised that happiness can be, and certainly is for our son, a ‘how’ not a ‘what’ and this too has taught myself some very valuable lessons understanding this.