Rasha N AbuShaaban*
I always ask myself what is the definition of happiness? Why do some people seem to have the secret to happiness, while others struggle to gain any satisfaction? No matter where they are from, no matter how hard their lives can be, and no matter what their circumstances can look like, why and how do some people know how to appreciate happiness?
For me, happiness can be found in the present moment, not in some dreamed golden future. Happiness is the art of being content with our current situation. Our current life may be far from perfect, like the life we have in Gaza for instance; but, if we try to detach ourselves from the negative feelings and appreciate the blessings we have in life, happiness becomes easier to cultivate.
Despite all of the unpleasant, uncontrollable, and hard circumstances, when we offer gratitude for small things in life, it helps us feel a broader identity and awareness; our consciousness expands and we bring to the fore our own positive qualities.
Happiness in Gaza has a lot to do with those small things in life we should show gratitude to. One can feel deeply happy when the power is back after a 12 hour blackout. The patients can feel happy when they hear news the crossing with Egypt is open, after months of complete closure, they can now receive medical treatment. The drivers can be happy when they have a full tank of fuel. The housewife can sigh deeply with delight when she succeeds to finish the laundry and house work before the power goes off again. The children can feel happy when they play in the puddles of water – a result of the streets flooding. Gaza has different definitions of happiness.
Love is the one main source of inspiration and happiness we have living in Gaza. The love for our friends and family is the essential element to our ultimate state of happiness. We feel happy when we come together, to recall the old days – even the bad memories we manage to make fun of. We find comfort when we huddle together with neighbours and family in a basement shelter during an offensive assault over Gaza. We seek relief by telling jokes and laugh out loud sometimes. Our laughs can even be louder than the horrific sounds outside. Indeed, Gaza has different definitions of happiness.
Hope is another source of happiness. We should have something to hope for – something that drives us towards a brighter tomorrow, no matter how hard it is. We should have something to dream of, something to hold close and never let completely out of sight. Hope for the farmer to no longer have his land levelled by Israeli bulldozers. Hope for the fisherman to reach any point beyond the seashore to catch fish without being threatened by the Israeli navy. Hope for parents to make sure their children are safe at all times. Hope for the patients to receive decent medical care. Hope for the young and in love couple to afford their marriage. Hope for the new graduate to find their desired job. Hope for the people to be able to plan their lives, and just have it go the way they want without unpredictability and all the uncertainties. Simply, hope for a free land!
Happiness is a state of mind. We should not connect our happiness with future events and goals, and keep waiting to be happy. We should not let our current circumstances stop us from having happy moments. When we hope for something, we should not be overwhelmed by the distance to the finish line – instead we should live in the moment, count our blessings, and look for the small details that make us happy. No matter what kind of life we have, no matter where we live, everyone deserves to feel happy. Everyone can be responsible for cultivating their own happiness.
*Rasha writes from GazaStrip.